Selected Shorts: The World of Etgar Keret

The new season of SELECTED SHORTS begins with a program devoted to the darkly humorous Israeli writer Etgar Keret, whose playful but subversive stories, in which harsh reality often topples into fantasy, have earned him an international following.  His story collections include The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God, The Girl on the Fridge, and The Nimrod Flipout.

Keret lives in Tel Aviv, but came to New York to host an evening of his works at Symphony Space, and disarmed the live audience by admitting that he had taken some time away from fiction (he is also an award-winning filmmaker) because his life had taken a turn for the normal (“I got married, and had a kid, and a mortgage") that he didn’t know how to put into words. (“I could describe a filthy apartment 500 ways, but I didn’t know how to describe a clean one, and now I lived in a clean one.”)

Happily, Keret’s small son provided some inspiration, and he is back to fiction, including several of the tales you’ll hear here.

First, the author is a character in his own work in “Suddenly, a Knock at the Door,” read by “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor.  Next, the intriguing “Lieland,” in which the character meets his own inventions in an alternate universe.  (“This is a great idea,” says SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti—“to some extent to be a writer is to be a successful liar.”  The reader is Tony Award-winner B.D. Wong.

Listeners familiar with Keret’s absurdist universe will have no trouble swallowing “Halibut,” his tale of a morose Israeli yuppie and his lunch. (Yep.)  Josh Radnor is the reader.

We finish this program with robust reading of Keret’s gendering bending romance, “Fatso” by the playwright John Guare.

The  SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

“Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,” performed by Josh Radnor

“Lieland,” performed by B.D. Wong

“Halibut,” performed by Josh Radnor

“Fatso,” performed by John Guare


For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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Announcing the 2012 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize.  This year's theme is “objects of desire.”  The judge is the author Maile Meloy and the deadline is March 2, 2012.