A Horse Walks into a Bar, by David Grossman
In a small club in a remote Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a stand-up comedian on the downside of his career, attempts to reconcile the tragic aspects of his life in what may become his farewell, signature performance.
Comedy is often derived from one’s own personal pain, and Dov’s performance is no exception. The reader is drawn into the intimacy of the club and is entertained and exhausted in equal measure due to the intense, and often razor sharp wit and agony of the past. The story is told by a boyhood acquaintance that Dov invites to this specific show. His friend is a judge by profession and also was witness to a key event in Dov’s past. Dov wants him there as an impartial validation—judge if you will—to Dov’s story.
The concept of a book told through a two hour performance is in and of itself remarkable, however, the masterful writing which layers the perspectives, insights, and reactions of the audience is startling in its craft and complexity. A Horse Walks into a Bar winning the 2017 Man Booker International Prize is not surprising. Excellent, intelligent, insightful and human.
Review by Barry Novick