cover image Suddenly, a Knock on the Door

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door

Etgar Keret, trans. from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston, and Nathan Englander. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $14 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-374-53333-5

In this slim volume of flash fiction and short stories, Israeli author/filmmaker Keret (The Nimrod Flipout; the film Jellyfish) writes with alternating Singeresque magical realism and Kafkaesque absurdity, to mixed effect. Bookended by cautionary tales of writers at work—the title story and “What Animal Are You?”—this collection often takes characters beyond their comfort zones into scenarios of twisted reality. In “Ari,” a man suspects that everyone named Ari is after him. In “Bad Karma,” an insurance salesman tries to recover from being struck by the body of a suicidal jumper. In the longest and most satisfying story, “Surprise Party,” three strangers are the only guests at a celebration from which the guest of honor is strangely absent, and then they help the man’s wife search for him, concerned that he may have suicidal or homicidal tendencies. Many of Keret’s stories are literary doodles; others seem to be concepts in search of a few good characters. Readers tuned in to the author’s narrow-band broadcast will be pleased. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander, on behalf of Nilli Cohen at the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. (Apr.)