A Horse Walks into a Bar
by David Grossman (read by Joe Barrett)
David Grossman’s A Horse Walks into a Bar won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for fiction, three years after it was published in Hebrew. Its hero is Dovaleh G (for Greenstein), a stand-up comedian who celebrates his 57th birthday by performing a concert/exorcism/breakdown before an audience. The crowd loves him, to start with, but his real target is one person: Grossman’s narrator, Avishai Lazar, a judge invited by his old friend Dovaleh to see the show. The gags are aimed directly at Lazar, light-heartedly at first. Dovaleh bares his soul until he reaches the event that connects the old friends in a mutual stranglehold. Grossman’s delivery, hysterical in all senses of the term, isn’t read so much as declaimed by Joe Barrett, who is simply terrific, like Mel Brooks on amphetamines and then in need of sedation.