An American Humorist Reads Notes From an
Israeli's Twisted Imagination

With Gary Shteyngart

Of the authors currently dominating the Jewish literary scene, two of the most prominent are Gary Shteyngarta Soviet ex pat and NYC fixture, and Etgar Keretan Israeli writer of short fiction and screenplays. Shteyngart is beloved for his satirical novels, which incidentally often feature male leads born in Soviet Russia who are transplanted to Brooklyn and are consequently traumatized by Hebrew School. (And Shteyngart says that now he's writing a memoir.) Shteyngart's most recent novel, Super Sad True Love Story, came out in the summer of 2010 and made such a splash it catapulted him onto The New Yorker's Best 20 Under 40 list of fiction writers and the Forward 50 of 2010.

Keret, on the other hand, is known in Israel
and, increasingly, beyondfor his dark, poignant, and sometimes twisted fiction. In a short story published by The Paris Review in 2005, a child's observations about the death penalty in Israel illustrate the horrors of corporeal punishment--culminating in a prank where school children hang a cat and break its neck, just to see how something dies when it's hung.

Animals, children, and a gory death are also at the crux of "What, of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?", a Keret-penned story recently published in English by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux as part of a collection titled
Suddenly, a Knock on the Door. The blood and guts might be predictable, but quite unexpectedly, FSG tapped Keret's literary oppositeGary Shteyngartto record a reading of the story. Here's how it went:

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