An absurdist Israeli writer confronts the serious business of family life

Cover00Gal Beckerman at Bookforum:

There’s a shorthand phrase in Israel for describing the politics of war and peace that permeates everything: ha matzav, “the situation.” You might come upon a conversation between two people and ask, “What are you talking about?” And the response would simply be “the situation.”

This can mean whatever happened that morning—a café blown up, olive trees vandalized in the occupied territories, or the latest proclamation of “Death to Israel” from Tehran. But it can also capture the particular flavor of a collective existence that finds itself, on a regular basis, trounced by History—an unrelenting, never-forgotten force, as much a part of everyday life as whether the buses are running or it’s rainy outside.

Etgar Keret, the most internationally celebrated and widely read of his generation of Israeli writers, has been notably uninterested in “the situation.” His microstories are no longer than a couple pages each and don’t concern themselves much with Hezbollah or Netanyahu. The best of them are fantastical and arrive, very economically, at some strange wisdom about the inner life of the human animal.

more here.