“There are many Jewish values that affect my work, but the one that I find central is questioning. Jewish heroes share a passion to think and challenge, and not follow anyone blindly. Abraham, Moses, Job, Jonah and many other Jewish role models did not hesitate to argue about what they thought right—even with God himself.”
Using storytelling to convey Jewish values across cultures, Etgar Keret’s works have universal appeal and impart a humanitarian vision.
Hailed as the voice of young Israel, Keret is best known for his short stories, graphic novels, and film and television projects. He has been one of Israel’s most popular writers since his first collection of short stories was released in 1992.
Keret’s work has been published in 46 countries and translated into 41 languages, including Farsi, and has been featured internationally in outlets such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, The Paris Review, The Comédie-Française, Zoetrope and NPR. More than 40 short films have been based on his stories, one of which won the MTV Prize in 1998.
Born in Ramat Gan in 1967 and raised by parents who survived the Holocaust, Keret has received international acclaim for his contributions as a storyteller and filmmaker. Hailed as the voice of young Israel and one of its most innovative and extraordinary writers, Keret is best known for his short stories, film and television projects, and graphic novels. Rarely extending beyond three or four pages, these stories offer a window into a surreal world that is at once funny and sad. Keret started writing in 1992 during his service in the Israel Defense Forces, and since then he has published five collections of short stories, one memoir, four graphic novels, and four children’s books.
Keret, 48, has been one of Israel’s most popular writers since his first collection of short stories was published. His work has been published in 46 countries and translated into 41 languages including Farsi, and has been featured around the world in outlets including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, The Paris Review, Zoetrope and NPR.
Through his allegorical tales full of wisdom, insight and profound humanism, Keret is an influential global voice who demonstrates that writers can play a critical role in a democratic society such as Israel, as well as beyond its borders. He counters brutality and dehumanization, inspiring his readers with warmth and humor. He encourages others to make the world a better place and translates the lessons of the Holocaust to a new generation.
Keret is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize (1996), the Ministry of Culture’s Prime Minister Award for Literature in Israel (1998), the Ministry of Culture’s Award for Film Making in Israel (2000), the Jewish Quarterly—UK Wingate Award (2008), the St. Petersburg Public Library’s Foreign Favorite Award (2010), and the Newman Prize (2012). Each of his books has received the Book Publishers Association’s Platinum Prize (1995, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011). In 2010, Keret was honored in France with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His latest book, The Seven Good Years, his first non-fiction work, was chosen by The Guardian as one of the best biographies and memoirs of 2015. He has written several screenplays, including Malka Lev Adom (Skin Deep) (1996), which won first prize at several international film festivals and received an Israeli Film Academy Award. Keret and his wife, Israeli filmmaker and children’s book author Shira Geffen, won the 2007 Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Director Award from the French Artists and Writers’ Guild for their film Jellyfish. His latest book, A Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy, was published in Hebrew in 2018.
In an effort to bring literature to a younger generation, Keret initiated and edited Silhouettes, and founded the nonprofit StoryVid. Silhouettes is an anthology of work by young Israelis that aims to describe—through fiction—the difficulties confronted by people with psychiatric disabilities. Proceeds from the book were donated to help related causes. Keret’s StoryVid is a new-media project that combines books and cinema to create, according to The Paris Review, “the literary equivalent of a music video.”
He is a regular contributor to This American Life and a lecturer in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Keret resides in Tel Aviv with his family.
AWARD PRESENTATION: Etgar Keret in Conversation with Ira Glass
Etgar Keret is an important international voice who speaks of the Jewish condition in contemporary terms and demonstrates that writers can play an influential and critical role within society.WATCH HERE