Listen: Professor Yaron Peleg reads from his translation of an Etgar Keret short story not yet published in English.
St. Martin's Press
Etgar Keret's short stories often describe encounters between people with cultural differences, but he discounts the notion that his fiction is meant to be political.
Etgar Keret is often called Israel's hippest young writer. His deadpan descriptions of life among ordinary people — often young people — offer a window on a surreal world that is at once funny and sad.
People often read the stories — such as one about a homeless man who threatens to shoot himself if he's not given money for a cup of coffee — as parables about conflicts between different segments of society in the Middle East. That impression was strengthened by the publication in Britain of Gaza Blues. Keret wrote the book with London-based Palestinian author Samir el-Youssef.
But Keret tells NPR's Neda Ulaby that he and other Israeli writers of his generation have a less political goal in mind:
"We want to fight for the ability to be normal," he says. "We want to fight for the ability to talk about what's private. To talk about emotions... and not our emotions in the national context."
Keret's second collection of stories, The Nimrod Flipout, will be published in the United States in the spring.