22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Etgar Keret

Portrait Etgar Keret
© Ali Ghandtschi

Etgar Keret was born in Tel Aviv in 1967 and is considered one of the most renowned Isreali writers of his generation. He has published several short story collections as well as children’s books and graphic novels in which he highlights different aspects of modern Israeli society: racism, love, the military, longing, and fear. Keret counteracts the problems in his homeland with ruthless directness, irony, and optimism. He combines the everyday with the surreal; the fantastic and the absurd. Although the depicted reality is often threatening, the stories appear emphatically casual and testify to a dry and bizarre sense of humor. »I want to slap people with my stories so that they wake up and start to ponder. I don’t want to give my readers answers; all I want is for them to start asking questions.«
In 2012, Keret’s work »Suddenly, a Knock on the Door« also appeared in German. In this book, the characters are faced with the pitfalls of life. Together with the Palestinian Samir El-Youssef, Keret wrote »Gaza Blues« (2004), in which both authors complain about the politicization of their societies and the »tyranny of public opinion and politics«. The focus of the sometimes funny and imaginative, sometimes sad and desperate stories about the normal life of the younger generation are always anti-heroes that do not correspond to the collective identity of Israel or Palestine. They are meant to be understood as an indirect statement about the war between their two countries, and to provide optimism for those who still believe in reconciliation. In »The Seven Good Years« (2016), he reports on his role as a father and as a son against the backdrop of the sometimes absurd everyday life in Israel. »Bumerang« (2018; tr: Boomerang) is a German-language compilation of Keret’s best short prose from earlier years. The stories from his volume »Fly Already« (2019), awarded with the National Jewish Book Award, straddle the realm of fantasy and deal in many ways with the inability to communicate and to see or let alone understand the world. Keret’s works also include political satires in which he explores contemporary relations between Germany and Israel.
Keret’s works have been translated into forty languages, have received multiple awards, and have been filmed several times. He also writes screenplays for short films and Israeli television, and has directed together with his wife, lyricist and children’s book author, Shira Geffen. Their film »Jellyfish« won the Camera d’Or as the best debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. Together with Inbal Pinto, he created the 2020 art film about the Corona Year 2020, »Outside: A Covid-19 Fairytale«. The author lives in Tel Aviv, where he teaches at the university.