The Nimrod Flipout, by Etgar Keret
This diminutive book of (some very) short stories packs a big wallop. The stories are fantastical, vulgar, and highly symbolic. Some of the more staid readers may not be able to get past the language and sometimes torrid situations that Keret describes, but if they can, they are duly rewarded. A strong voice of the new Israeli generation, Keret writes of the relationships between people, of loss and regret, of love and acceptance. This is the voice of an Israel that seeks to find its place in the world, and in a region that does not want it. It is the voice of the soldiers of the Israeli army - i.e. everyone, since army service is compulsory - who win military battles but cannot win the war within themselves. It is the voice of anyone, anywhere, who feels so alone they can hardly breathe. The stories explore many kinds of relationships: marital, friendships, that between a dog and his master, extramarital, pre-marital. These are people who want to feel appreciated and loved for who they are but are forced to give up little bits of themselves in compromise to the people in their lives who seek the same. This voice of the new Israel is haunting and lonely, but hopeful, all the same.