An armed man forces his way into the house of a man named Etgar Keret. He orders Keret, “Tell me a story.” But before Keret can rattle something off, there’s a knock at the door. And then another. Suddenly, Keret has 3 armed men in his home, pistols aimed at him, and he can’t come up with a story that appeases any of them.
This scene isn’t just a glimpse into the strange and ingenious imagination of Israeli writer Etgar Keret; it’s also the plot of the title story of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, his latest collection.
Like his prior short story collections—which are peppered with unusual characters overflowing with big hearts—Suddenly exemplifies the kind of idiosyncratic and magical fiction Keret is famous for. In “Hemorrhoid,” a man’s hemorrhoid replaces his conscience as the ethical center of his body. And in “Lieland,” the protagonist finds himself in a mystical land in which all of the lies he has ever told come to life, and are played out before his very eyes. Sounds crazy, and it is. But that’s just an ordinary day in Keret’s world.