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Israeli Author Etgar Keret Opens Up About ‘Seven Good Years’

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Israeli author Etgar Keret is out promoting his new book “Seven Good Years.” The memoir is a collection of essays that tell the story of the seven years between the birth of the author’s son and the death of his father.

(THE SEVEN GOOD YEARS, A Memoir By Etgar Keret, Translated by Sondra Silverston, Miriam Shlesinger, Jessica Cohen, Anthony Berris, 171 pp. Riverhead Books. $26.95.)

etgar keret

On how he brought his primary experience as an author of fiction to his new work of non-fiction, Keret told Paste Magazine, “Writing, for me, was always associated with fiction. I always felt kind of sorry for nonfiction writers. Fiction writers had more fun. When I write a story I don’t know what’s going to happen, so it feels like an adventure. When you write nonfiction, it’s more like retelling an adventure because you already know what happened. I never had the urge to write nonfiction. I never wrote a diary as a kid. I felt the role of writing was to go somewhere life hadn’t taken you rather than document something that’s already happened. I think this changed the day I became a father. I can’t even really explain it. One of the things I discovered about writing nonfiction is how it’s a good way of dealing with your emotions when you’re confused. When you retell something, it makes it very clear where you stand towards it. Are you more afraid or bitter? It also helped me accept things. With the birth of my son, I started writing these pieces. In the beginning, I didn’t think about them as something that would become a book. Only when my father became ill did I decide I wanted to turn them into a book.”

(Read the whole interview here.)

On growing up the child of Holocaust survivors he told the Huffington Post, “I grew up in a family with a mother who was orphaned at a very young age, and she would say to us, ‘Every week I’m a parent, you look at your own children and think about how your parents raised you. If you had a good childhood, then you imitate them. If it was a bad one, then you do the opposite. I have no point of reference.’ Going through the Holocaust as children, they never had that natural growing up process in which they rebelled against their parents. My mother was the sole survivor of her family, so she created the world inside her own head.”

“Going through the Holocaust, the thing my parents wanted the most was to have a family. I was born in six months by cesarean operation with the umbilical cord tied around my neck weighing 900 grams and having jaundice. My mother said that the first memory she had of me was two doctors betting how long it was going to take before I died. So when I grew up as a kid, when I’d say to my parents, ‘What do you want me to do?’ they’d say to me, ‘You’re alive, that’s enough. We survived the Holocaust and had a child. You’re alive; you’re great. We don’t need anything more.’”

(Read the whole interview here.)

The New York Times said of the book, “Keret is best when he sticks to family, and particularly the subject of his father, a Holocaust survivor. Keret risks sentimentality recklessly and often. When it works, the payoff is powerful: a palpable urgency of emotion. There’s a lot of love in this book. One hopes it’s contagious.”



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