Suddenly, a Knock on the Door Stories

Etgar Keret; Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston, and Nathan Englander

FSG Originals



Trade Paperback

208 Pages



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Bringing up a child, lying to the boss, placing an order in a fast-food restaurant: in Etgar Keret’s new collection, daily life is complicated, dangerous, and full of yearning. In his most playful and most mature work yet, the living and the dead, silent children and talking animals, dreams and waking life coexist in an uneasy world. Overflowing with absurdity, humor, sadness, and compassion, the tales in Suddenly, a Knock on the Door establish Etgar Keret—declared a “genius” by The New York Times—as one of the most original writers of his generation.


Praise for Suddenly, a Knock on the Door

"When [Keret's] final sentences hit, they hit hard, like literary afterburners that push the stories deeper into your gut . . . An extraordinary vision, a fresh, original and effective portrait of a society and its beleagured young men. In three-page burts, he shows us an Israel no longer filled with pioneers and heroes but with ordinary people—a view from the ground as genuine as it is bleak."—Joseph Weisberg, The New York Times

“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

“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

"Etgar Keret's short stories are fierce, funny, full of energy and insight and at the same time often deep tragic and very moving."—Amos Oz, author of A Tale of Love and Darkness

"Stories that are short, strange, funny, deceptively casual in tone and affect, stories that sound like a joke but aren't—Etgar Keret is a writer to be taken seriously"—Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi

“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

“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

“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

“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  writes with alternating Singeresque magical realism and Kafkaesque absurdity.”—Publishers Weekly

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Willem Dafoe, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Shalom Auslander Read Etgar Keret
There's something about Etgar Keret's short stories that sound great when read aloud. Fortunately for us, a few of his notable friends have volunteered to read pieces from his latest collection, Suddenly, A Knock on the Door. You can also read Keret's story "Mystique" along with Willem Dafoe, should you so choose.
In Warsaw, a Creative Home Fills a Void -
At just four feet across at its widest, and a mere 28 inches at its narrowest point, the Keret House in Poland may be the world's thinnest home.
'Suddenly': Surreal Stories From A Modern Master : NPR
A killer is doomed to live out the afterlife as Pooh Bear. A magical goldfish grants wishes, and disgruntled divorced dads abound. Welcome to the absurd and very tender world of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, the new story collection by Israeli writer Etgar Keret.
New story collections by Melissa Pritchard, Rajesh Parameswaran and Etgar Keret - The Washington Post
Wonderfully strange new story collections by Melissa Pritchard, Rajesh Parameswaran and Etgar Keret.
'Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,' by Etgar Keret -
Etgar Keret's stories highlight humor, bizarre twists and characters in the midst of psychic upheaval.
'Suddenly, a Knock On the Door' by Etgar Keret: Book review -
Book review: Etgar Keret goes from one extreme to another in the wonderfully absurdist short-story collection 'Suddenly, a Knock On the Door.'
Etgar Keret makes 'Suddenly, a Knock on the Door' a cross between Aesop and George Carlin |
Over and over, Keret's characters create stories to deal with the unstable ground their lives are built on, and to do so, they fall deeper into more complicated deceptions.
A Mustache for My Son -
I honored my son's birthday request to "do something special" with my face, and learned just how freighted facial hair can be.
Israeli Author Etgar Keret's New Short Story Collection - The Daily Beast
Israeli author Etgar Keret turns a dry spell into gold.
Wry, Coy Looks at Modern Israeli Life in Etgar Keret's 'Suddenly, A Knock on the Door' – Tablet Magazine
Etgar Keret's Chaos Theory: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door, the acclaimed Israeli writer's new story collection, offers wry, coy looks at the paradoxes of life in the Jewish state
Etgar Keret: What Happens Next - The Barnes & Noble Review
Listeners of public radio's This American Life have endured no shortage of the breezy yet fully imagined vignettes of Israeli life written and read by Etgar Keret, but long-suffering readers have had to wait four years for his latest collection
Omnivoracious: ""Suddenly, a Knock on the Door"": Ira Glass Reads a Story by Etgar Keret
There are authors who cut their milk teeth on short stories, and there are authors who dedicate themselves to the form with Buddha-like focus. Israeli writer Etgar Keret

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Suddenly, a Knock at the Door
SUDDENLY, A KNOCK ON THE DOOR"Tell me a story," the bearded man sitting on my living-room sofa commands. The situation, I must say, is anything but pleasant. I'm someone who writes stories, not someone who tells them. And even that isn't something I do on demand. The last time anyone asked me to tell him a story, it was my son. That was a year ago. I told him something about a fairy and a ferret--I don't even remember what exactly--and within two minutes he was fast asleep. But the situation is fundamentally different. Because my son doesn't have a beard, or a
Read the full excerpt



  • Etgar Keret Gets Streetwise

    Forward managing editor Dan Friedman takes a walk with Etgar Keret.



  • Etgar Keret; Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston, and Nathan Englander

  • 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.

  • Etgar Keret © Yanai Yechiel
    Etgar Keret




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