Etgar Keret

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Etgar Keret
Etgar Keret, 2016
Etgar Keret, 2016
Bornאתגר קרת
(1967-08-20) August 20, 1967 (age 56)
Ramat Gan, Israel
Alma materBen-Gurion University of the Negev,
Tel Aviv University
Genreshort stories,
graphic novels,
Notable awardsOrdre des Arts et des Lettres
SpouseShira Geffen

Etgar Keret (Hebrew: אתגר קרת, born August 20, 1967) is an Israeli writer known for his short stories, graphic novels, and scriptwriting for film and television.

Personal life[edit]

Etgar Keret in 2005

Keret was born in Ramat Gan, Israel in 1967.[1] He is a third child to parents who survived the Holocaust.[2] Both of his parents are from Poland.[3] He studied at Ohel Shem high school, and at the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife, Shira Geffen, and their son, Lev. He is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, and at Tel Aviv University. He holds dual Israeli and Polish citizenship.

Literary career[edit]

Keret's first published work was Pipelines (צינורות‎, Tzinorot, 1992), a collection of short stories which was largely ignored when it came out. His second book, Missing Kissinger (געגועיי לקיסינג'ר‎, Ga'agu'ai le-Kissinger, 1994), a collection of fifty very short stories, caught the attention of the general public. The short story "Siren", which deals with the paradoxes of modern Israeli society, is included in the curriculum for the Israeli matriculation exam in literature.

Keret has co-authored several comic books, among them Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Fun (לא באנו ליהנות‎, Lo banu leihanot, 1996) with Rutu Modan and Streets of Fury (סמטאות הזעם, Simtaot Haza'am, 1997) with Asaf Hanuka. In 1999, five of his stories were translated into English, and adapted into "graphic novellas" under the joint title Jetlag. The illustrators were the five members of the Actus Tragicus collective.

In 1998, Keret published Kneller's Happy Campers (הקייטנה של קנלר‎, Hakaytana Shel Kneller), a collection of short stories. The title story, the longest in the collection, follows a young man who commits suicide and goes on a quest for love in the afterlife. It appears in the English language collection of Keret's stories The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God & Other Stories (2004) and was adapted into the graphic novel Pizzeria Kamikaze (2006), with illustrations by Asaf Hanuka. Keret's latest short story collections are Anihu (אניהו‎, literally I-am-him, 2002; translated into English as Cheap Moon, after one of the other stories in the collection) and Pitom Defikah Ba-delet (פתאום דפיקה בדלת‎, translated into English as Suddenly a Knock at the Door).

Keret also wrote a children's book Dad Runs Away with the Circus (2004), illustrated by Rutu Modan.

Keret publishes some of his works on the Hebrew-language web site "Bimah Hadashah" (New Stage).

His 2019 book published in English as Fly Already (תקלה בקצה הגלקסיה‎, literally Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy) won Israel’s prestigious Sapir Prize in Literature. The prize includes a paid translation of the winning book into any language of the author’s choosing, and Keret gained some attention for selecting Yiddish. This was the first time an author had chosen that language in the prize’s 20-year history.[1]

Other media[edit]

Keret has worked in Israeli television and film, including three seasons as a writer for the popular sketch show The Cameri Quintet. He also wrote the story for the 2001 TV movie Aball'e starring Shmil Ben Ari.

In 2006, Wristcutters: A Love Story, a dark comedy/love story based on Keret's novella Kneller's Happy Campers, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The story was adapted by director Goran Dukić into a film starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Tom Waits and Will Arnett.

Etgar and his wife Shira directed the 2007 film Jellyfish, based on a story written by Shira.

$9.99, a stop motion animated feature film, was released in 2009. Written by Keret and directed by Tatia Rosenthal, it is an Israeli/Australian co-production featuring the voices of Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia and other leading Australian actors.[4]

In 2010 a short feature film based on Keret's story was released. An Exclusive novella was adapted and directed by the young Polish director Krzysztof Szot. The film, also known as Wyłączność (An Exclusive), was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2010 in the Short Film Corner section.

Keret's work is frequently featured on the National Public Radio program This American Life, which has presented readings of eight of his stories.[5]

In October 2011 the public radio show Selected Shorts devoted an entire show to live readings of Keret's stories, including “Suddenly a Knock at the Door,” “Halibut," “Lieland”, and “Fatso.”[6] Keret himself introduced several of the stories.[7]

In August 2012, the short film Glue [8] based on Etgar Keret's short story "Crazy Glue", participated in the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

In May 2013, the short film LieLand,[9] adapted and directed by Silvia Grossmann, a Brazilian/American filmmaker, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2017, Keret's short story Parallel Universes was adapted into a short film by British-Israeli actor Liran Nathan.[10] The film was screened at various international film festivals including the Newport Beach Film Festival and the British Urban Film Festival.

Writing style[edit]

Autograph on Keret's book, Jerusalem, 2010, writers' conference

Keret's writing style is lean, using everyday language, slang, and dialect. His work has influenced many writers of his generation,[citation needed] as well as bringing a renewed surge in popularity for the short story form in Israel in the second half of the 1990s.[citation needed][11]

According to linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Etgar Keret was criticized by linguist Menahem Zevi Kaddari "for using a 'thin language' – as opposed to Shmuel Yosef Agnon".[12]: 22  Zuckermann defends Keret and argues that "Kaddari compares Keret to Agnon as if they wrote in two different registers of the same language"[12]: 22  whereas "Keret is, in fact, writing in a different language. Whilst Agnon attempts to write in (Mishnaic) Hebrew, which is obviously not his mother tongue (Yiddish), Keret writes authentically in his native Israeli."[12]: 22  Zuckermann provides an example: when Agnon wrote, in 1944, אשתו מתה עליו ishtó méta alàv, literally "his wife died/dies on him", he meant "he became a widower". When Keret says so, he means "his wife loves him very much".[12]: 22 


Keret has received the Prime Minister's award for literature, as well as the Ministry of Culture's Cinema Prize. In 2006 he was chosen as an outstanding artist of the prestigious Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation.

In 1993 he won the first prize in the Alternative Theater Festival in Akko for Entebbe: A Musical, which he wrote with Jonathan Bar Giora.

The short film Malka Lev Adom (Skin Deep, 1996), which Keret wrote and directed with Ran Tal, won an Israel Film Academy award and first place in the Munich International Festival of Film Schools. The film Jellyfish, a joint venture for Keret and his wife received the Camera d'Or prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Missing Kissinger won the 2008 JQ Wingate Prize.

Keret was on the jury for the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.[13]

In 2010, Keret received the Chevalier (Knight) Medallion of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. [14]

He has received the Charles Bronfman Prize for 2016.[15]

Keret received the 2018 Sapir Prize for Literature for his short-story collection Takalah be-Katzeh ha-Galaksiya (Hebrew title: תקלה בקצה הגלקסיה, "A Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy") whose English translation, Fly Already, won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction.[16][17][18] This book also appeared in a Bulgarian translation in 2020.[19]



A review of Missing Kissinger by Todd McEwen describes Etgar Keret's locale as that of "male confusion, loneliness, blundering, bellowing and, above all, stasis. His narrator is trapped in an angry masculine wistfulness which is awful to behold in its masturbatory disconnection from the world's real possibilities and pleasures." Keret is "not much of a stylist - you get the impression that he throws three or four of these stories off on the bus to work every morning," and his "wild, blackly inventive pieces...might have been dreamed up by a mad scientist rather than a writer."[20]


Short fiction[edit]

  • The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories, New York: Toby Press, 2004, ISBN 1-59264-105-9 (paperback).
Includes "Kneller's Happy Campers" and other stories.
15 short stories by Keret and a novella by El-Youssef.
  • The Nimrod Flipout, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006, ISBN 0-374-22243-6 (paperback).
Selections from Keret's four short-story collections.
Includes "Crazy Glue" and other short stories from Keret's first collections.
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Creative writing 2012 Keret, Etgar (January 2, 2012). "Creative writing". The New Yorker. New York: Condé Nast.
Mitzvah 2022 Keret, Etgar (June 20, 2022). "Mitzvah". The New Yorker. New York: Condé Nast.


Children's books[edit]

  • Dad Runs Away With The Circus, Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7636-2247-8.


  • The Seven Good Years: A Memoir. New York: Riverhead Books. 2015.

Mini Series[edit]

  • The Middleman.[22] 2020

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted


  1. ^ Michael Gluzman; Naomi Seidman (1 September 1996). Israel: a traveler's literary companion. Whereabouts Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-1-883513-03-0. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Jaggi, Maya (17 March 2007). "Life at a louder volume". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  3. ^ Rovner, Adam (12 March 2009). "Interviews Etgar Keret on Tradition, Translation, and Alien Toasters". Words Without Borders. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Etgar Keret". IMDb. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Archive". This American Life. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Broadcast Schedule - Selected Shorts". Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  7. ^ PRI's Selected Shorts Presents "The World of Etgar Keret" (mp3 file)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Glue, the film". Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  9. ^ "LieLand". Retrieved 18 January 2019 – via
  10. ^ "Parallel Universes (Short 2017) - IMDb". IMDb.
  11. ^ Peleg, Yaron (2008). Israeli Culture between the Two Intifadas : A Brief Romance. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292794269.
  12. ^ a b c d Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2020). Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199812790. ISBN 9780199812776
  13. ^ Jury & candidates for 2010 Neustadt Prize Archived May 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, announced March 2009.
  14. ^ Israeli author wins prestigious award Archived 2010-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Administrator. "Etgar Keret - The Charles Bronfman Prize". Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  16. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  17. ^ "Jewish Book Council announces 2019 National Jewish Book Awards Winners". The Jerusalem Post | 19 January 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  18. ^ Izikovich, Gili (21 January 2019). "Etgar Keret Wins Most Prestigious Israeli Literary Award". Haaretz. Tel Aviv.
  19. ^ Benatov, Joseph. "Авария на края на Галактиката". Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  20. ^ McEwen, Todd (24 March 2007). "Review: Missing Kissinger by Etgar Keret". The Guardian. London.
  21. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Fly Already by Etgar Keret, trans. From the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston et al. Riverhead, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59463-327-0".
  22. ^ "The Middleman". The Criterion Channel. Archived from the original on 2023-02-11. Retrieved 2023-02-11.

External links[edit]




Articles and reviews[edit]

Related sites[edit]