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A Horse Walks into a Bar
Cover of A Horse Walks into a Bar
A Horse Walks into a Bar
Borrow Borrow

WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.

WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.

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About the Author-
  • David Grossman is the bestselling author of numerous works, which have been translated into thirty-six languages. His most recent novel, A Horse Walks into a Bar, was awarded the International Man Booker Prize 2017, and shortlisted for the TLS-Risa Domb/Porjes Prize 2019. Grossman is also the recipient of the French Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the 2010 Frankfurt Peace Prize.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 27, 2017
    Grossman (To the End of the Land) masterfully balances the neuroses and hard-earned insight of veteran stand-up comedian Dov Greenstein with a defining memory that’s 40 years in the shaping. The story of Dov’s life—his worship of a mentally ill mother who survived the Holocaust, his contentious relationship with his father, his awkward adolescence, and a brief stay at a military camp in Gadna—unspools over one evening in a basement club in the small city of Netanya, Israel, related through the observations of Avishai Lazar, a boyhood friend of Dov’s and, later, a respected judge. As Dov immerses himself in his act, the audience—many of whom eventually walk out in bewilderment or anger at Dov’s deeply personal (and often decidedly grim) revelations—come to understand that, amid the self-deprecating humor and good-natured banter, the comedian is, for the first time, recounting the formative event of his life. “For an instant, when he looks up, the spotlight creates an optical illusion,” Avishai muses as he watches Dov discover what has lain hidden for decades, “and a fifty-seven-year-old boy is reflected out of a fourteen-year-old man.” Grossman wrestles with questions of faith and friendship, fate and family, with empathy, wisdom, and acerbic wit.

  • Financial Times Much of it is extremely funny, but it's also tightly controlled and carefully paced... Few writers hold a more unflinching mirror up to Israeli society than Grossman... [A Horse Walks into a Bar] is a work of sombre brilliance and disquieting rage, an unsparing exploration of the seductive spell of escapism and "the corruption that is in cynicism."
  • Washington Post Brilliant, blistering... With Dovaleh, Grossman has created a character who's captivating and horrific and a stand-up routine that's disgusting and authentically human. I can hardly say how the book achieves its bewitching effects. It all happened so fast.
  • New York Review of Books Unrelentingly claustrophobic... The violence that A Horse Walks Into A Bar explores is more private and intimate. Its central interest is not the vicious treatment of vulnerable others but the cruelty that wells up within families, circulates like a poison in tight-knit groups, and finally turns inward against the self... Strategic weaving together of manic humour and tears... Searing and poignant.
  • Guardian, Book of the Year Unless pop lyricists have the lock on the Novel prize in literature from now on, then a leading future candidate must be David Grossman.
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A Horse Walks into a Bar
A Horse Walks into a Bar
David Grossman
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