Israel's hippest bestselling young writer today, Etgar Keret is part court jester, part literary crown prince, part national conscience. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God gathers his daring and provocative short stories for the first time in English.
Brief, intense, painfully funny, and shockingly honest, Keret's stories are snapshots that illuminate with intelligence and wit the hidden truths of life. As with the best comic authors, hilarity and anguish are the twin pillars of his work. Keret covers a remarkable emotional and narrative terrain-from a father's first lesson to his boy to a standoff between soldiers caught in the Middle East conflict to a slice of life where nothing much happens.
Bus Driver includes stories from Keret's bestselling collections in Israel, Pipelines and Missing Kissinger, as well as Keret's major new novella, "Kneller's Happy Campers," a bitingly satirical yet wistful road trip set in the afterlife for suicides.
Etgar Keret's The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories stings and thrills with fierce fables of modern life. Set in landscapes ranging from "this armpit town outside Austin, Texas" to "this village in Uzbekistan that was built right smack at the mouth of Hell," these stories lay their plots' central tensions out plainly: "Dad wouldn't buy me a Bart Simpson doll," one begins. Then they take off like little roller coasters, careening through the pathos of Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, the clowning of David Sedaris's Barrel Fever, the in-your-face violence of Quentin Tarantino, and the bewildered alienation of Franz Kafka. But readers need not know any of Keret's sources to enjoy his stories fully. The Israeli writer's aphorisms leap off the page and lodge themselves in the mind: "There are two kinds of people, those who like to sleep next to the wall, and those who like to sleep next to the people who push them off the bed." Keret's vernacular prose is fun to read, and his vision of the world is weirdly comforting. Happiness never really flourishes, but small hopes and graces abound. --Michael Joseph Gross