This is not just a book review of the title of the same name by David Grossman which won the Man Booker International Prize for the year 2017 but also a social commentary of the genre of stand up comedy because it is everywhere. From bars, pubs, laughathons organized by business houses, fests and TV shows like Last Comic Standing which have made characters such as Clayton English, Zakir Khan, Vir Das, Kapil Sharma, Tanmay Bhat to name a few. They came into national subconsciousness in the year 2015 by the roast of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor in December which was subsequently released the following month on youtube and went viral, to put it mildly, and created a hue and cry for reasons ranging from hurting the religious sentiments to using abusive language. I, personally, was a huge fan and still am of the group All India Backchod but we as a nation have never had the guts or gumption to laugh at ourselves at the cost of the others but that is a separate story altogether.
|A Horse Walks Into A Bar|
Stand up comedy is here to stay and have personally attended small gigs across town such as Zakir Khan on a nine-city tour in India or Hindustan Times’s Laughya at Arya auditorium in Delhi. The concept grows on you and you are sucked into the social nuances and nitty-gritty of everyday life from a comedic perspective which is what the protagonist Dovaleh Greenstein starts off with the book A Horse Walks Into A Bar but slowly but surely, it is a deliberate ploy to disintegrate or change track completely to give a glimpse of his dark past and the situations that he had to decide on given the limitations of the “stage”. The narrative and the gestures are difficult to comprehend because one is not sure whether it is funny or sad at times and does not give it an easy read but makes it engrossing nonetheless. The plot is also held together because the audience in front of Dovaleh also includes a couple of his acquaintances. The concept is top drawer because of a whole gamut of emotions involved and gives an absorbing contrast through a comic.
David Grossman is an Israeli author and this work has been translated from Hebrew from his frequent collaborator and translator, Jessica Cohen. David is married to Michal and had three children one of whom died in the Lebanon war of 2006 with the Hezbollah. Personally, would recommend the book because it wouldn’t take too much time and would provide a refreshing outlook from the middle east.