Etgar Keret’s “Shiva Tour”


When Etgar Keret was in the IDF, he gave his first short story to his brother to read while they walked the dog. “It’s beautiful, really moving,” his brother responded. “Do you have another copy?” Yes, said Etgar, and his brother bent down to pick up the dog’s feces with the story. That, Keret confides in Etgar Keret: What Animal Are You?, a new documentary by Gur Bentwich, was when he realized he wanted to be a writer.

This and other hilarious, intimate anecdotes pepper the film, which records Keret’s tour to promote Suddenly, A Knock on the Door just five weeks after his father’s death. At an unconventional event in New York, he ad libs monologues for words written on 10 index cards. Each monologue memorialize his father, a Holocaust survivor who insisted on drinking coffee even as he was dying of mouth cancer.

At another point in the film, when Keret remarks that the purpose of shiva is to hear stories about the dead, his friend Ira Glass tells him that this is his shiva tour, extending his mourning for his father. That Keret is the one doing the telling makes for a potent, bittersweet memorial.

Watch Keret do a reading during his “shiva tour”:

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