‘I feel a human deterioration’

Etgar Keret, a writer, at home in Tel Aviv, Oct 22. The Israeli writer has spent the last few weeks trying to make sense of the violence and loss around him. So far, he can't. [Ofir Berman/The New York Times]

When I spoke with the writer Etgar Keret at home in Tel Aviv earlier this week, he was in anguish. Keret is one of Israel's most beloved contemporary authors, whose books include "Suddenly, a Knock on the Door" and "The Seven Good Years." He primarily writes short stories that are whimsical, surrealist and darkly funny, and that make meaning from life's smallest, most unremarkable interactions.

But this moment - and the pain it has brought Israelis and Palestinians - is one that Keret is struggling to comprehend. A self-described "left-wing, liberal peace activist," he has been grasping for clarity by reflecting on his parents' experiences as Holocaust survivors. But as the war enters its fourth week, and civilian casualties mount in Gaza, words are often failing him. "When I see children running in fear and crying, I don't care about anything," he told me. "I just want this...

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