Israeli author David Grossman has won the prestigious 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar. In his review of the book for Tablet, David Mikics wrote that the novel, which centers on a stand-up comic who reveals to a crowd a traumatic moment in his childhood, “promise[d] to give a new jolt to [Grossman’s] career.”

The book is a monologue by a wickedly misanthropic stand-up comic, and it’s scurrilous, rancid, and very funny indeed. Dovaleh G, alias Dov Greenstein, Grossman’s hero, is in his mid-50s, divorced, with a handful of kids to support; he’s skinny, double-jointed, and dirty-minded. He’s also sick with prostate cancer, which prompts one of the book’s funniest jokes. Suppose that an Israeli scientist were to discover a cure for cancer—how would the world react? Dovaleh acidly predicts that “there’d be protests and demonstrations and UN votes and editorials in all the European papers, and they’d all be saying, ‘Now, wait a minute, why must we harm cancer? And if we must, do we really need to completely annihilate it right off the bat? Can’t we try and reach a compromise first? Why go in with force straightaway? Why not put ourselves in its shoes and try to understand how cancer itself experiences the disease from its own perspective? … Has history taught us nothing?”

Grossman, whom Mikics calls “the conscience of his nation,” was longlisted with Amoz Oz, a fellow contemporary Israeli novelist. Grossman and his translator will both receive a prize of over $63,000.

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