I wasn’t so sure about this one. The premise, a novel based on a performance by a stand-up comedian, worried me. Was this just going to be an excuse for an epic monologue, as in, say, the wildly overrated The Reluctant Fundamentalist?

Though it is told without chapter breaks, it is far from just a single monologue. It is another brilliant example of Grossman’s ability to combine the personal and political in a compelling story. Here, as in To the End of the Land, it is a story that needs to be told, not for entertainment or information but, as is often the case in Israel, for survival.

I had the good fortune to hear Grossman talk about the book at the 92nd Street Y (a personal Mecca for me), and his insights and explanations made me want to read it again.

On top of all of that, many of the jokes in the book are really funny!

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