Etgar Keret’s Dial-a-Story

Andrea D'Cruz

There are literary apps galore from publishers exploiting the potential of the huge smartphone market. But, with all the high-tech animation, multimedia and interactive possibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of the telephone’s original purpose: calling.

Chatto & Windus, however, recently went back to basics with a wonderfully original promotion to celebrate the publication of Israeli short-story writer Etgar Keret’s new collection. They created a special ‘Etgar Keret dial-a-story’ telephone line, which was open for one day only: 23 February 2012, the publication date of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door.

Callers got the chance to listen to a selection of short stories that feature in the new collection (published in translation from the Hebrew) – all for the price of a standard phone call. Listeners were prompted to press 1 ‘for a story about bulging pockets’, 2 ‘for a story about duty-free perfume’ and 3 ‘for a story about a café’.

Keret specialises in playful, inventive stories that are at their longest maybe a dozen pages long, but are often begun and ended within one or two turns of the page (or a few more clicks of your ebook reader). In that fleeting space he fits the absurd, the hilarious and the unexpected to create a lasting impact. He is the master of the very strange, very short short-story, so this quirky promotion was a perfect fit.

Etgar Keret