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A Horse Walks into a Bar

Narrated by: Joe Barrett
Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the International Man Booker Prize 2017.

Random House presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, read by Joe Barrett.

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart onstage - an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic - charming, erratic, repellent - exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking listen. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry - and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.

©2017 David Grossman (P)2017 Random House AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a touch of genius

what an excellent book.....I'm sure it will become a classic ...a rare experience.
Honestly, I needed to start and restart reading it from the beginning...because of it's massive tempo....#
I couldn't catch up the with this tempo..and sometime didn't catch the meanings and intents...
but once you get the gusto and adjust to the high tempo and dense content... you can't put it down from start to end.
The ´narrator did marvels with the text...and that is an underestimation. Joe Barrett performance makes this book an
unforgettable experience ...a rare experienced . He isn't a narrator...he is a perfomer, an actor.
So from now on, looking for more David Grossman and more Joe Barrett.

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Outstanding.

You must listen to this. Excellent writing. You will need to listen to again. Outstanding book.

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  • Graham
  • 09-04-17

Creative brilliance

A great exploration of infectious emotion and story telling provided in a unique setting. Narration could be slightly improved with an accent or speech pitch change between the 2 narrators to reduce confusion. Everyone should read or listen to this

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 08-01-17

Superb, intimate and moving

A night of stand-up comedy spirals into the depths of despair. A life that started with abuse and bullying is exposed on the stage, through humour and despair, at times deeply intertwined. Beautifully and movingly written and narrated, this is a brilliant story of an intimate visit by a judge to a comedy club to see a friend from his youth unveil aspects of his life and relationships. Guilt, intimacy, morality and humour are shared on the stage and off.

A fitting winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

Compelling listening, probably worth a repeat to appreciate the layers and lives exposed one evening in a small comedy club in a small coastal town in Israel by a small, terminally ill, bitterly witty, falling apart comic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrea Edan
  • 06-20-19

Life as a stand-up comedy

This book, justifiably, won the Man Booker prize as it is a very original format and very well written. I, personally, found it quite unsettling as it deals with past issues that most of us would rather forget. The story takes the shape of a stand-up comic more or less telling the story of his life during a single performance. In the audience are 2 people from his past, a judge and a female dwarf lady who was a neighbour when he was a boy. A lot of the "reminiscences" make very uncomfortable reading as they lay bare the souls of both the comedian (Dovie) and his one one time "best friend", a retired judge. The lady dwarf has neither forgotten nor forgiven anything. The audience is, to my mind, just a reflection of how we try and deal with uncomfortable truths and memories. An unusual but quite brilliant book. It is not a page turner nor one you would like to read while relaxing on the beach but if you get through it, you will feel enriched.

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  • A. Williams
  • 09-25-18

Haven't a clue what it was about.

I can't believe I wasted my time reading it. I kept thinking something would happen towards the end and all would be revealed . Well nothing happened.

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  • Robert
  • 05-23-18

Booker Prize but disappointing

Having enjoyed previous books by this author, especially the wonderful "Someone to run with", I was looking forward to this new one, especially because of the Booker Prize. It was a disappointment. Flat and cliche-ridden.

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  • M. Tweedale
  • 12-19-18

Grossman is stuck waking in circles

A Horse Walks into a Bar is about a two-hour stand-up comedy act. The performance is a slow-motion car crash, and the book is an even slower version of it. The book recounts every word of every painful joke, even when a paragraph overview wound suffice. This is a short book, but it could stand to be a lot shorter.

The narrator describes the performance as threadbare, which is charitable. I'd also describe the narrator as threadbare, a vague sketch of a human being. He is a prop, existing only as our proxy to judge Dovaleh. An omniscient narrator could've served the same person and the story would barely lose anything. The narrator's interior life is too blank. For a man who professes not to like stand-up comedy or to understand it, he describes the performance with the trained eye of a fellow performer. As a character the narrator reads as entirely constructed.

The audiobook suffers from having stories within stories. Joe Barrett has a certain way of speaking when he's the narrator, but he often slips into that same voice when performing Dovaleh narrating stories to the audience, especially when Dovaleh himself is a character within those stories. It's easy to forget these stories are being relayed by Dovelah at times.

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  • ELIZABETH
  • 10-05-18

Engrossing

Basically, it is one performance by a stand-up comedian in an Israeli night club as he slowly disintegrates. Unusual premise and challenging scenario. Occasionally, the sheer intensity begins to pall, but then the author (and the comedian) will take a breather and the tension builds up all over again. The narrator is compelling and utterly believable.