(K. Brent Tomer),
A Horse Walks into a Bar. By David Grossman. Translated by Jessica Cohen. Jonathan Cape; 197 pages; £14.99. To be published in America by Knopf in February 2017.
IN A shabby club in the Israeli city of Netanya, a diminutive, rake-thin, 57-year-old comedian takes the stage. Illness, death, war: all is fair game for a motor-mouthed provocateur whose onslaught of outrage draws his audience—aghast but spellbound—into an “alluring abyss”. Soon, though, the reader grasps that the masochistic Dovaleh is turning his whiplash tongue not so much on taboo topics as on himself—and on a retired judge, an old classmate summoned by the stand-up to the show, who recounts this story. Justice Lazar now fears that a shameful tale of teenage betrayals will come to light. Will Dovaleh put the judge himself in the dock?
In drama, film and fiction, comic turns usually bomb. But in his new novel, a monologue intercut with the judge’s memories, David Grossman, a fine Israeli writer, dares to turn the spotlight on a real, if ruinous, talent. Although an embittered, multiply divorced cancer survivor from a family blighted by the…Continue reading