No joke: Israeli author David Grossman’s award-winning “A Horse Walks into a Bar” is coming to a cinema near you.
The Australian-American studio Village Roadshow will adapt the 2017 novel into a feature film, Variety reports.
The book, which snagged Grossman and his English translator Jessica Cohen the Man Booker International Prize in 2017 and the Israel Award in 2018, takes place over just two hours in a comedy club in Netanya, Israel. Those two hours are all it takes for the central character, stand-up comic Dov Greenstein, to spiral into destructive self-reflection as he confronts both his past and the novel’s narrator, a childhood acquaintance and retired judge.
“A Horse Walks into a Bar” may not be the most obvious Hollywood property, but the movie will not be the first time the book has been dramatized. In 2017, Israeli actor-director Dror Keren premiered a stage adaption of the book in Tel Aviv. And in 2018, the Austrian Salzburger Festspiele debuted a German-language theatrical adaptation of the book by Eva-Maria Voigtländer. The novel’s themes of alienation and the capricious nature of fate are certainly big enough to fill the big screen.
“Almost in every book I write there is an individual facing an outer arbitrariness,” Grossman told the Forward’s Talya Zax in 2017, adding that “what attracted [him] was the contradiction between the detachment and cynicism of the stand-up comedy and the tenderness and intimacy of the story being told.”
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org