The Nimrod Flipout Stories

Etgar Keret; Translated by the Institute for Translation of Hebrew Literature

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

176 Pages


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Already featured on This American Life and Selected Shorts, these stories introduce a man who finds equal pleasure in his beautiful girlfriend and the fat, soccer-loving lout she turns into after dark; shrinking parents; a case of impotence cured by a pet terrier; and a pessimistic Middle Eastern talking fish. The Nimrod Flipout is an extraordinary collection from Israel's most acclaimed young writer.


Praise for The Nimrod Flipout

"Keret's short stories are filled with antiheroes. There are no brave Maccabees, no swashbuckling warriors. Instead, his sketches dramatize the mundane details of daily life. Keret’s [stories] seem to promise that there is more to life than Merkava tanks and suicide killers, more even than nanotech or IPOs. His quirky collections . . . offer a glimpse into the Israeli subconscious." —Kevin Peraino, Newsweek
"One of the joys of this collection by Mr. Keret, a young Israeli writer, is the insight it gives into the life of his countrymen . . . Mr. Keret's incredible stories are complemented by his laconic style. Bizarre things happen in each and every one of them, but neither he nor his characters bat an eye at the oddities surrounding them. Like the undercurrent of terrorism, this could be an aspect of the Israeli psyche." —Sonny Bunch, The Washington Times
The Nimrod Flipout contains 30 stories, most of which straddle the line between a joke and a fable. The tone is what Rod Serling might have sounded like had he decided to make ‘The Twilight Zone’ a comedy set in Israel, with each episode lasting just a few minutes . . . Keret’s Israelis are described with the cut-to-the-chase imperative of a comedian. The people who dash in and out of his stories are the sort of familiar urbanites you would find in a sitcom, albeit one playing on a television that might become untethered at any moment, floating away into oblivion as though it were all a strange dream.” —Thomas Beller, The New York Times Book Review
“Keret . . . has been hailed as a radical new voice in Israeli literature.  [He] has cousins at an international level—like Haruki Murakami, his young male characters favor hard-boiled speech and make no apologies for their juvenile habits, and they seem unfazed by the mild magical realism that pervades their lives. Yet Mr. Keret distinguishes himself with a kind of overarching sorrow. The deadly realities of Israeli life facilitate a style that differs from Murakami’s fatalism.” —Benjamin Lytal, The Sun
"The Israeli author Etgar Keret writes short stories, some of which are very, very short and nearly all of which are very, very substantial . . . Keret—whose latest collection, The Nimrod Flipout, has just been published in a brisk English translation by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston—is a master at enticing the reader with a quick bite that miraculously sates for days. As Israel's most acclaimed young writer, the 39-year-old novelist, short story crafter and screenwriter has conspicuously diverged from the pioneers-and-politics narrative central to his country's (admittedly young) literary canon, choosing instead to tell stories of love, loss and everyday neuroses. But to call Keret apolitical would be to miss a seminal moment in the history of Jewish literature. Indeed, it would be like pigeonholing Isaac Bashevis Singer—at whose knee Keret seems to have learned the art of magic realism, only to use it with more discipline than his master. There is fantasy in nearly every story in this collection—parents who shrink as their son grows; a tryst told from the perspective of everyone in the room, including the cat ('I think I'll meow now')—but the sharpest seasoning here is wit. In 'Fatso,' we are regaled with the tale of a man whose girlfriend morphs nightly into a short, hairy man, with surprising consequences for the relationship. 'When you first met him, you didn't give a damn about soccer, but now you know every team. And whenever one of your favorites wins, you feel like you've made a wish and it's come true . . . And so it goes: every night you fall asleep with him struggling to stay awake for the Argentinean finals, and in the morning there she is, the beautiful, forgiving woman who you love, too, till it hurts.' Keret is a cynic who can't manage to shake off his hopefulness—the most reliable kind of narrator there is. His true ancestor may not be Singer but Woody Allen, who, in his earlier years, summoned the gods of fantasy to help argue his most famous philosophical insights. And Keret is exhibiting 'Annie Hall'-era talent here, churning out gem after gem. 'This is one story you've got to hear!' reads another of his attention-grabbing openers. Indeed it is." —Alana Newhouse, The Washington Post Book World
"The Nimrod Flipout is a volume of hip, cynical tales, rendered in a cool, remote tone. It's not too long, though, before Keret's desperate and ridiculous characters, dancing in the face of their existential despair, inspire warmth. Keret's prose is assured, intelligent, funny, and oddly touching." —Richard Vernon, Baltimore City Paper
"If the Brothers Grimm were alive and had expense accounts and girl troubles, they might write like Keret, whose freaky fables usually begin with a crazy idea and end with a sad beauty, all in the span of as little as two or three pages . . . Keret can do more with six strange  and funny paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages." —Kyle Smith, People
"His enchantingly witty stories suggest that a keen intelligence can still flourish even when the air is full of flying metal . . . Our best chance is that Etgar Keret will become a craze, a craze for sanity." —Clive James
"The best work of literature to come out of Israel in the last five thousand years—better than Leviticus and nearly as funny. Each page is a cut and polished gem. Do yourself a favor, walk over to the counter and buy this book now." —Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook

"Stories that are short, strange, funny, deceptively casual in tone and effect, 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

"Etgar Keret's short stories are fierce, funny, full of energy and insight, and at the same time they are often deep, tragic, and very moving." —Amos Oz, author of A Tale of Love and Darkness
"A kaleidoscopic assortment of exact, affecting and richly comic stories from the bestselling Israeli author. Many of the 30 stories in this collection are almost brief enough-and resonant enough-to qualify as poems. 'Dirt' opens as a comic riff, with the narrator imagining starting a chain of laundromats, then becomes a sweet, elegant meditation on love. In 'Eight Percent of Nothing,' an apartment broker is unexpectedly roped into learning about the breakdown of a marriage. 'Fatso' manages to turn its ridiculous setup-a man discovers that his girlfriend transforms into a crass, burly soccer fan after dark-into sharp commentary on identity and male bonding. None of those three tales exceeds ten pages in length, and brevity is their crucial element. Keret attaches a great deal of weight to what's said in a story's closing sentences, which is a risky tactic if he has broader ambitions; he's yet to publish a full-length novel, and it's easy to see how one might be unsuccessful. But here he's in full command of his powers, capable of tackling his chief concerns-sex, youth, family, romantic attachments and detachments-from a variety of angles. That's true even when he does crack ten pages: In the title story, three friends are haunted by the ghost of a dead buddy, and Keret precisely renders the emotional relationship between each of the men, earning the story's beautifully tragicomic kicker. He's not perfect: 'The Tits of an Eighteen-Year-Old' is an obvious commentary about male boorishness, and 'More Life' is a limp fable about infidelity. But unlike many short-story writers, Keret doesn't drown his weaker ideas in puffed-up pages of workshopped prose—he keeps his observations raw, confident and direct. A funny and keen chronicler of human foibles, perfecting his craft." —Kirkus Reviews
"Once you know that Keret's work has been featured on NPR's This American Life and Selected Shorts, it becomes hard to think of these 30 pieces as short stories. The adenoidal 35-going-on-13 tones of the former program's host grate in the mind like the voices of Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, and other ur-stand-ups, and the veil is parted. These aren't stories, they're routines! They're mostly told in the third person by the same kind of guys (once, gal) as the protagonists: schlemiels, though the singles among them are also slackers. They're modern young Israelis fixated on sex, unable to make lasting connections, frustrated to quiet madness, and feckless as . . . a stand-up's persona. Most of their stories are could-be realistic, a few are ultimately sentimental, and the best are arguably the fantasies, such as the volume opener, whose protagonist has a girlfriend ('the sex is dynamite') who becomes a fat, hairy, party-animal guy at night, and is still as much fun to be with. Vulgar, sad-sacky stuff, but amusing." —Booklist

"Keret, an Israeli writer who also writes children's books and collaborates with illustrators on graphic stories and novels, specializes in brainteasing short short stories reminiscent of the 'Shouts and Murmurs' section of the New Yorker—30 are packed in this thin volume. A typical Keret situation is enacted in 'Your Man': the narrator finds that his girlfriends inexplicably break up with him in the back of taxicabs while the radio always announces a caller from a certain address. He goes to the address, finds photos of his exes tacked to the wall and erupts in violence, with repercussions that give new meaning to masochism. Dogs play a role in Keret's stories similar to the sly role they assume in Thurber cartoons, hovering between the fantastic and the everyday, and sex is an obsession ('Actually, I've Had Some Phenomenal Hardons Lately' is one story's title.) In 'Fatso,' a man's girlfriend confides a secret: she turns into a rotund male at night. Like French surrealist Marcel Aymé, Keret keeps his stories one dimensional, but it's a dimension he has mastered, one that peels away the borderlines of normalcy." —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.

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


Surprised? Of course I was surprised. You go out with a girl. First date, second date, a restaurant here, a movie there, always just matinees. You start sleeping together, the sex is mind-blowing, and pretty soon there’s feeling too. And then, one day, she shows up in tears, and you hug her and tell her to take it easy, everything’s going to be OK, and she says she can’t stand it anymore, she has this secret, not just a secret, something really awful, a curse, something she’s been wanting to tell you from the beginning but she didn’t have

Read the full excerpt


  • Etgar Keret; Translated by the Institute for Translation of Hebrew Literature

  • Etgar Keret is the author of three bestselling story collections, one novella, three graphic novels, and a children's book. His fiction has been translated into more than twenty languages and has been the basis for more than forty short films. He lives and teaches in Tel Aviv.
  • Etgar Keret © Yanai Yechiel
    Etgar Keret