Posted by jukkahoo
The skating season is taking a brief break between EuroChamps and Worlds. Thus there is obviously time for something different?
Unfortunately the latest isn't too jolly. Ephraim Kishon has died at the age of 80.
The author of Paratiisi vuokrattavana, Merisairas valas and Hullu perhe, or as I liked to all him The Funniest Man Ever. Born Hungarian, he moved to Israel in 1949 having survived Holocaust (he escaped from a train to Sobibor death camp) and became soon Israel's leading humorist. He wrote thousands of satirical columns that portrayed the everyday life of the new state, constantly on the verge of war, or warring. He was hugely popular in Germany. His son Rafi (who is a doctor! Little Rafi!) told, that his father viewed his success in Germany as "a great feeling, that the children of my hangmen are my admirers." I'll say.
I first read his book (must've been the Hullu perhe ie. My Family Right or Wrong) in late 70's. It came out in Finnish in 1978 and I pretty much grabbed as-good-as-new copy from the library some time later. It wasn't particularily tempting cover-wise, nor was a name like Ephraim Kishon a sign of must-have-entertainment, but probably the words "The most famous humorist in the world" that begin the backpage blurb were sufficiently alluring enough.
It all starts with the birth of Little Rafi. It's madcap mayhem from the word go (or "Sinä" meaning "that" in this instance). It's funny, it's delirious, it's almost stream of consciousness. And I loved it. The whole book is more or less brilliant, a collection of various unbelievable (yet believable enough, that you can see the possibly Real event behind all this screwball comedy of errors) family-related happenings. It has that Forsythe-story and the Babysitter-story and the Bar Mitzvah -story etc.