Etgar Keret and illustrator Assaf Hanuka have again joined forces to present us with a wonderful graphic version of Keret’s best-selling novella, Kneller’s Happy Campers. The novella has already been translated into numerous languages (English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Spanish, Norwegian, Czech, Greek, Arabic and Chinese), and in some cases, as here, is called Pizzeria Kamikaze. Pizzeria Kamikaze can be read as a clever parody, full of humor and comic flashes, but it can also be seen as a wistful longing for a better world and perfect love. When the hero, Hayim, commits suicide, he is transported to an afterworld that is the destination of all suicides. This place is remarkably like the world he comes from: there are Jews and Arabs, junk food and Polish food just like Mother's. Soon he finds a job in a pizzeria and makes friends. But it is also possible to perform small miracles there. For example, Hayim is "dying" to perform a miracle that will help him find his girlfriend, Desirée, who committed suicide not long after he did. His search for Desirée takes him on a colorful, picaresque journey, full of gripping encounters. The books climax is the long-awaited meeting with Desirée and the "Messiah", who promises to show his followers the way to a better world. Needless to say, the Messiah goofs and lets them down, causing Hayim to lose Desirée for a second time. An incurable optimist, he keeps longing and hoping.
The graphic version of Pizzeria Kamikaze was serialized in English in the United States, in the Bipolar Comics series (2002-2004).
The set-up is fantastic…a character-filled, caper-enhanced road trip, expertly paced and drawn all the way to its eerie conclusion. Asaf [Hanuka]’s artwork is gorgeous. Also Raanan Elizov has designed the best damn book cover of the year, period. Wayne Alan Brenner, Austin Chronicle
Keret creates a compelling journey in a world of the vacant eyed and the pleasure seeking. The tale is perfectly complemented by illustrator Hanuka's black-and-white noirish ink, and his use of silver adds even more interest to this already sharp work. Pizzeria Kamikaze stays lighthearted without being funny and is morbid without employing despair. Recommended.