Vintage Podcast

David Grossman on A Horse Walks into a Bar

David Grossman won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks into a Bar. He joins us to discuss comedy, memory, and the stories we tell ourselves as people and nations


David Grossman, author of To the End of the Land and Falling Out of Time, joins us to discuss his most recent novel, A Horse Walks into a Bar, winner of the Man Booker international prize.

He expounds on the book’s origins: the 24 years it took to write, and how he assembled a room of translators to overturn even the smallest details.

Grossman also discusses the difference between cynicism and irony, what separates Israeli and Yiddish humour, and the stories we tell ourselves, both as people and as nations.

If you are able to make fun of yourself, you are not a victim


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A Horse Walks into a Bar

David Grossman (and others)


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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