Published by Comma Press
"When you’re dead, I figure you can quit adjusting to other people, but until then life is all about adjusting." So reflects Arnon Grunberg, as he finds himself high-fiving an elderly drug-dealer and her husband in a Las Vegas hotel room ("We use it before sex"). Bizarre, garrulous, self-confident, often desperately lonely; such is the variety of characters Grunberg meets – in Amsterdam or New York – it’s thanks only to this ability to adjust, and quietly tune in, that we’re able to share so many private worlds, or be moved by the most fleeting encounters.
From the rich widow blowing her husband’s fortune on slot machines because she "doesn’t believe in an afterlife", to the language student telling of her arrival in America under the hood of a truck, Grunberg moves effortlessly between worlds. Be it cynical high society New York, claustrophobic family arguments back in Amsterdam, or simply small-talking with waiters in the people-watching capital of the world, Grunberg steals glimpses deep into the most guarded of lives, sharing moments of joy and absurdity at every turn.
The perfect appetiser for a major, emerging voice.
"Deadpan, offbeat, quirkily comic but steeped in loneliness."
"The wit and sardonic intelligence that shine through Arnon Grunberg’s prose make it a continual pleasure to read."
"A literary treat."
Arnon Grunberg is one of Holland’s most prolific and acclaimed writers. He has published 11 novels to date, 3 collections of essays and two plays. His first novel, Blue Mondays (1994), won the Dutch prize for the best debut novel that year. In 2000, under the pseudonym Marek van der Jagt, he won the best debut prize again for his novel The History of My Baldness. In 2007, The Jewish Messiah was published by Penguin USA. This is the first translation of his short fiction.
Translated by Lisa Friedman.