“Mitzvah”
by Etgar Keret
translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
from the June 27, 2022 issue of The New Yorker

It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a story from Etgar Keret, the last being “Fly Away” in 2017. I haven’t really loved any of his stories, and have actively disliked a few as well. But there’s always hope! Here we get “Mitzvah,” translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen. And here is how it starts:

Yogev and I sit on the tattered couch in his brother’s living room, waiting for the Molly to kick in.

Yogev’s brother is a dealer. He hates it when people call him a dealer. Says he’s just buying for friends. But he’s the mother of all dealers. Looks like a lizard. Cold-blooded. Takes money from his own little brother, but gives him a thirty-per-cent discount, like he’s generosity personified. While we wait for the high to kick in, he drones on about how this is primo shit, super pricey, and how he paid top dollar to the Dutchman who sold it to him and now he’s losing money on us. Yeah, right, Dutchman. I guarantee he bought the whole stash from some Arab kid in Jaffa. “When this shit goes to your head, it’s straight to the penthouse!” he gushes. “Rocket launch. No stops.”

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