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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

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Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

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.

If you like David Grossman you might also like to read books by Salman Rushdie and Amos Oz.


A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

This is a Guardian and New Statesman Book of the Year. 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.


'Unrelentingly claustrophobic... The violence that A Horse Walks Into A Bar explores is more private and intimate. Its central interest is not the vicious treatment of vulnerable others but the cruelty that wells up within families, circulates like a poison in tight-knit groups, and finally turns inward against the self... Strategic weaving together of manic humour and tears... Searing and poignant.' -- Stephen Greenblatt, New York Review of Books

'Brilliant, blistering... With Dovaleh, Grossman has created a character who's captivating and horrific and a stand-up routine that's disgusting and authentically human. I can hardly say how the book achieves its bewitching effects. It all happened so fast.' -- Ken Kalfus, Washington Post

'Unless pop lyricists have the lock on the Novel prize in literature from now on, then a leading future candidate must be David Grossman.' -- Mark Lawson Guardian, Book of the Year

'Much of it is extremely funny, but it's also tightly controlled and carefully paced... Few writers hold a more unflinching mirror up to Israeli society than Grossman... [A Horse Walks into a Bar] is a work of sombre brilliance and disquieting rage, an unsparing exploration of the seductive spell of escapism and the corruption that is in cynicism.' -- Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

'This is a virtuoso piece of writing, a whirlwind of laughter and tears that sucks you in and makes you holds your breath.' -- John Harding Daily Mail

'A writerly tour de force that would be unbearably painful, were it not also so generously humane.' -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett New Statesman, Book of the Year

'A short, shocking masterpiece.' -- Adam Lively, Sunday Times

About the Author

David Grossman is the bestselling author of numerous works, which have been translated into thirty-six languages. His most recent novels were To the End of the Land, described by Jacqueline Rose as 'without question one of the most powerful and moving novels I have ever read', and Falling Out of Time. He is the recipient of the French Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the 2010 Frankfurt Peace Prize.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th June 2017


David Grossman

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Vintage Publishing


208 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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