The entirety of David Grossman’s new novel, A Horse Walks into a Bar, takes place in a comedy club in Netanya, a small Israeli town. The narrative spans the set of Dovaleh Greenstein, a stand-up celebrating his fifty-seventh birthday. He has acquired the accoutrements that are not uncommon to middle-aged comedians: a handful of failed marriages, five children requiring support, and disillusionment with his act, which once had the excitement of ‘tightrope walking’.
In the audience is our narrator, Avishai, a former judge who has not had contact with Dovaleh since childhood. Dovaleh has requested that Avishai – ‘someone who’s spent his whole life looking at people and reading them in an instant’ – watch his set and tell him what