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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories Paperback – March 27, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Keret's greatest book yet--the most funny, dark, and poignant. It's tempting to say these stories are his most Kafkaesque, but in fact they are his most Keretesque.” ―Jonathan Safran Foer

“Etgar Keret's stories are funny, with tons of feeling, driving towards destinations you never see coming. They're written in the most unpretentious, chatty voice possible, but they're also weirdly poetic. They stick in your gut. You think about them for days. ” ―Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life

“Strangeness abounds. Keret fits so much psychological and social complexity and metaphysical mystery into these quick, wry, jolting, funny, off-handedly fabulist miniatures, they're like literary magic tricks: no matter how closely you read, you can't figure out how he does it.” ―Donna Seaman, Booklist (March 15)

“His pieces elicit comparison to sources as diverse as Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut and Woody Allen . . . [Keret is] a writer who is often very funny and inventive, and occasionally profound.” ―Kirkus Reviews (March 15)

“Israeli author Keret writes sometimes appealingly wacky, sometimes darkly absurdist stories that translate well to America . . . Sophisticated readers should check this out.” ―Library Journal, pre-pub alert

“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.” ―Publishers Weekly

“This collection of short stories brims with invention . . . Etgar Keret is a great short story writer whose work is all the greater because it's funny . . . [He] most becomes himself in comedy shorts, telling tales of the absurd and the surreal . . . As one of the 20th century's great comic writers--and one of Keret's true precursors--might have said, so it goes . . . To complain about Keret being Keret is like complaining about Chekhov being Chekhov.” ―Ian Sansom, The Guardian

“[Keret] deserves full marks for chutzpah . . . His work zings with imaginative conceits, clever asides and self-conscious twists. Yet there is also an easygoing quality to his writing that makes the 37 stories collected here instantly likeable . . . his stories assume an anecdotal style that gives them an air of spontaneity, as if he were relating them over a cup of coffee in one of the Tel Aviv cafes frequented by his characters . . . Keret's willingness to develop quirky concepts (one story features a magic, talking goldfish) would seem to grant him a place alongside such idiosyncratic writers as Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino. But if his work is sometimes reminiscent of these writers, it also carves out its own territory.” ―James Ley, The Sydney Morning Herald

“A brilliant writer . . . completely unlike any writer I know. The voice of the next generation.” ―Salman Rushdie

“Keret can do more with six . . .paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages.” ―Kyle Smith, People

About the Author

Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Etgar Keret is the author of six bestselling story collections. His writing has been published in Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope. Jellyfish, his first movie as a director along with his wife, Shira Geffen, won the Camera d'Or prize for best first feature at Cannes in 2007. In 2010 he was named a Chevalier of France's Order of Arts and Letters.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; Reprint edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780374533335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533335
  • ASIN: 0374533334
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Etgar Keret can do more in three or four pages than many short story writers can in stories that border on novellas. There are nearly three dozen stories that span just 188 pages, yet many are simply brilliant.

The eponymous and first story starts with a directive: "Tell me a story." Under gunpoint, the narrator - Etgar - is ordered to make up a story. He is interrupted early on: "That's not a story...That's an eyewitness report. It's exactly what's happening here and now. Exactly what we're trying to run away from. Don't you go and dump reality on us like a garbage truck. Use your imagination, man, create, invent, take it all the way."

I quoted that passage at length because it's really the raison d'etre of the collection. Etgar, an Israeli writer, leaves the politics and the moral quandaries to others such as David Grossman, Amos Oz and Nathan Englander. His stories focus on the escape from reality through stories that stretch and define us.

Some - as would be the case with any collection - are better than others. I'll call out a few: Lieland, where the subjects of lies become real, is one of my favorites. The protagonist, Robbie, learns that his lies live and thrive in another dimension and he meets his "lies come alive" simply by turning a handle.

Teamwork, another fine story, starts like this: "My son wants me to kill her. He's still young and doesn't express this perfectly yet, but I know exactly what he's after." The "her" refers to his maternal grandmother; he is the product of divorce and a brutal plan is soon imagined by his obsequious father. Or take another story: Unzipping; in it, the narrator finds a small zipper under her lover's tongue; when she pulls it, he opens up "like an oyster" with a second man revealed.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful confection of 35 very odd short short shorts that deftly evoke a theatre of memory and meaning - assuming that theatre is the Second City. Some like "The Story Victorious", "A Knock On the Door", "Creative Writing" and "What Animal Are You" are deliciously self referential to the process of creating a story. Others such as "LieLand", "Healthy Start", "Guava" and "What, of This Goldfish, Would You Wish" are microparables of modern life. Here and there Keret's son (or is he magic too?) peers innocently through the pages under different names - in "Big Blue Bus" he's Gilad throwing a television induced tantrum on the way to school; in "Teamwork" he's Roiki, listening to advice from his father on how they can conspire to get back at his grandmother/mother-in-law.

What I enjoyed most was the gradual collision of the absurd with everyday life. "Cheesus Christ" intertwines the life of a restaurant czar with the butterfly effect, resulting in a non-suicide. "Bad Karma" dealt with a successful insurance agent visiting the family of the accident victim that lead to his success. In "Bitch" a widower comes to terms with the reincarnation of his dead wife. "Hemorrhoid" is a Kafkaesque tale of where a man's inner voice takes over. And "September All Year Long" is about a fabuluous devices that sets extremely local weather conditions, its allure to the well to do and its failure in the market.

There are a few misses, but like an assortment of chocolates most can be sampled according to personal taste and the overall selection is delightful.
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Very disappointing book - and I am a HUGE Keret fan.

These stories feel forced, the endings don't work, and just don't flow like his previous work. The sharp wit and humor that characterizes most of his stories is lacking as well.

There was not even one story in this book that I felt captivated me like most of the previous stories of his that I read. The stories simply lack the life, and fun, and creativity, of his other work. I kept reading story after story, hoping and waiting for the magical stories that I had come to expect, but to no avail.

I would definitely not recommend anyone seeking to be introduced to Keret's work to start with this collection. If I had read this book first, I would not have read anymore. Read his other stuff, and avoid this book. However, if you are a big fan, you'll still probably want to read this for yourself - but be warned, this collection is not the same quality or feel when compared to his other stories.
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"Suddenly A Knock At The Door" is a delight. Etgar Keret is the real thing. He's a master. Sometimes, though, the point of his stories are hidden and at times buried. But, do not get discouraged. Great stories... great writers - it is their job to make you think. Keret has been compared to the likes of Kafka, Vonnegut, and Woody Allen. I agree. His style is both whimsical & serious. His style is also lean and reminiscent of Hemingway. But he writes with a spontaneity and freeness that is both Whitmanesque and Kerouacian in my opinion. His stories are fantasy but they're not any less real. If you enjoy this book, which I believe you absolutely will, and you appreciate short stories and poetry, I recommend reading "Leaves of Grass" (the 1892 edition) again as well as "On The Road" (1957) and the new but impressive "Seven At The Sevens" (2012). If you appreciate different styles & many different ideas, you can't go wrong with any of these volumes. Trust me.
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