“‘Tell me a story,’ the bearded man sitting on my living-room sofa commands.”

Short story collections remain, like sketch shows, somewhat hit and miss. When a writer packages together a lot of their work in one go, it is easier to compare them and see what you do and don’t like. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good stories in here, but some of them definitely left a bit to be desired.

The title story of Suddenly, A Knock On The Door features a writer being held at gunpoint by a man who demands he tell a story, which begins to fold in on itself as every time he tries, someone else arrives with the same plea. In the dark “Teamwork”, a divorced man tries to work out a way to save his son from an abusive grandmother. In “A Good One”, a board game designer arrives to a meeting with a bloodied nose and a briefcase containing nothing but a half-eaten apple. In “Surprise Party”, a wife tries to make her distant husband happy but ends up spending time with some distant acquaintances instead. And then there’s “What, of this Goldfish, Would You Wish?” where a man begins a documentary project about the wishes people would ask for if they had the power.

Set mostly in Israel, the stories have a large focus on uncertainty, loneliness, divorce, family and sadness. Few characters in the stories are happy and a lot of them seem to be trapped and unable (or unwilling) to prise themselves out of their ruts. A lot of the stories end abruptly or without giving us a firm resolution, leaving us to make up our own minds about what happens next. Sometimes this works, sometimes I wanted a solid answer.

“Pick a Colour” was a particular favourite story, highlighting in a very clever way the truth of racism, immigration and intolerance. “Lieland” was also interesting, and is one of the many stories to dabble in magic realism, with a compulsive liar finding out that all of his lies have come true and now he has to deal with the consequences. “Healthy Start” is also an interesting one, about a lonely man who has breakfast in the same cafe every morning by himself. Whenever he sees someone come in who is looking for someone, he waves them over and pretends to be whoever it is they’re meant to be meeting, be it a wife’s lover or a business partner.

It’s hard to know quite what else to say about this collection. Yes, there are some great ideas in here – some dark, some funny – and the prose style is easy, but then again it’s a translation, so as ever, I don’t know what’s been lost. Overall, though, I feel there’s something lacking and it didn’t resonate with me as much as I perhaps hoped it would. You might have better luck.

My second novel, The Third Wheel, is now available on Amazon and Waterstones! It tells the story of Dexter, a twenty-something teacher who is struggling with the fact that he alone among his friends is single and isn’t ready to grow up. But when aliens invade, it puts a lot of his problems into perspective. Mixing comedy, science fiction and horror, the novel promises to have something for everyone. I hope you’ll check it out!