2017 Man Booker International Prize Winner Makes Rare Appearance at the Book Festival

2017 Man Booker International Prize Winner Makes Rare Appearance at the Book Festival

Humour is an “important and vital way to cope with grief”, believes the Man Booker International Prize-winning Israeli author David Grossman. Making a rare appearance at the Book Festival this afternoon, he said: “Not only to cope, but to make the one you have lost, to make him move, to be alive again.”

Grossman’s 20 year old son Uri was killed in the 2006 Israel-Hizbollah conflict, an event that prompted the Jerusalem-born writer to deal with Israeli-Palestinian relations in his 2008 book To The End of the Land. “Because there is something in humour that is so breaking rules and irrational and unlogical,” he explained, “it allows the eruption of some movement in the congealed world.”

But the award-winning author was in discussion about his most recent book, A Horse Walks Into a Bar, which scooped the £50,000 Man Booker prize earlier this year. Set in a small Israeli town, it features the fictional comedian Dovaleh Greenstein, who needles his audience with vulgar and aggressive jokes. The judges of the Prize praised the novel as “a mesmerising meditation on the opposite forces shaping our lives: humour and sorrow, loss and hope, cruelty and compassion, and how even in the darkest hours we find the courage to carry on.”

But asked by Book Festival director Nick Barley how many stand-up routines he had seen in his life, Grossman replied: “Never, never, not even once.” He added: “I saw stand-up comedians on television…most of them after I’ve written the book. Usually, I’m very meticulous about my research and I will go to the ends of the world if I can interview someone who can give me a small detail, but regarding that, somehow I felt I [already] have it.”

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