David Grossman: ‘You have to act against the gravity of grief – to decide you won’t fall’

The Israeli author on his comedic novel, family tragedy and reading in a war zone

David Grossman makes an unlikely standup comedian. Aged 62, he is slim and slight, fair-skinned and ginger-haired. Gentle, compassionate curiosity radiates out from behind his spectacles. You fear he would be eaten alive at an open-mic night. His trade is deep empathy and the closeup observation of frailty. He is a writer so sensitive, picking up every wave of heartache or joy, that the broad, robust demands of a spotlit stage at a comedy club would, you suspect, be hard to endure.

And yet in Grossman’s newest novel, he brilliantly channels the voice of a battered, bruised, half-crazed veteran comic as he performs a set in a nothing venue in a second-tier Israeli city. We get the entire two hour show, the voice of Dovaleh G commanding the novel, save for the observations of the narrator, a childhood friend, whom the comedian has begged to see this performance – which, it seems, might be his last.

Related: Shimon Peres did great things, but he failed in what mattered to him the most | David Grossman

Related: We have been given a frightful glimpse into Netanyahu’s mind | David Grossman

Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to stir the dangers that Israel faces

Grossman is not after anything wild, just the two-state solution that Israeli peaceniks have been advocating for decades

Related: Trump has 'every intention' of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital

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Brexit and Trump have exposed the left’s crucial flaw: playing by the rules | Jonathan Freedland

If the leavers or the alt-right had lost the vote, they would be howling. The remain camp and the Democrats must learn a tactical lesson – sheer ruthlessness

Join me in a little thought experiment. Imagine, if you would, that the Brexit referendum had gone the other way, 48% voting to leave and 52% to remain. What do you think Nigel Farage would have said? Would he have nodded ruefully and declared: “The British people have spoken and this issue is now settled. Our side lost and we have to get over it. It’s time to move on.”

Related: Lord Farage? Theresa May declines to rule out peerage for Ukip leader

The government will reportedly have to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants for Brexit – 6,000 more than the EU's total

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Brexit and Trump have exposed the left’s crucial flaw: playing by the rules | Jonathan Freedland

If the leavers or the alt-right had lost the vote, they would be howling. The remain camp and the Democrats must learn a tactical lesson – sheer ruthlessness

Join me in a little thought experiment. Imagine, if you would, that the Brexit referendum had gone the other way, 48% voting to leave and 52% to remain. What do you think Nigel Farage would have said? Would he have nodded ruefully and declared: “The British people have spoken and this issue is now settled. Our side lost and we have to get over it. It’s time to move on.”

Related: Lord Farage? Theresa May declines to rule out peerage for Ukip leader

The government will reportedly have to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants for Brexit – 6,000 more than the EU's total

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The US will no longer feel like a haven for Jews under Trump | Jonathan Freedland

Donald Trump’s election victory and his appointment of Steve Bannon have lent legitimacy to overt antisemitism

To the long list of things that Donald Trump’s election has upended, we should add one more: the way Jews see the world.

Related: Bannon’s unveiling as Trump’s chief strategist is a layer cake of horrors | Lindy West

Related: Senator Al Franken accuses Donald Trump of launching antisemitic TV ad

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Trump’s world is too dark – even for Leonard Cohen | Jonathan Freedland

Still, the old poet’s words offer some consolation as we face the prospect that the world we have known is unravelling

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They said he wrote music to slit your wrists to, which in this week of all weeks feels timely. As it happens, I never felt that barb was fair to Leonard Cohen. True, his songs often told of gloom and defeat and darkness, but his voice was one of consolation – of sharing the loss by finding another who felt it too, of discovering the glimmer of love or light that might get you through.

My word, do we need that now. Cohen died on Monday, slipping out before he had to glimpse the news that has convulsed the world. He saw a lot in his 82 years, but he never had to see the words President-elect Trump. With his impeccable timing, Cohen spared himself that ordeal. But his songs anticipated how the rest of us would feel. Looked through the paper. Makes you wanna cry.

Related: Trump and Obama put differences aside in first White House meeting

We tell our children that ‘cheats never prosper', but Trump did not pay income tax for two decades

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Will Donald Trump destroy America?

With Democrats defeated and Republicans scared to step out of line, Donald Trump’s control over the three branches of the US government means this horror show hasn’t yet begun

Always quick to get to the point, social media came up with an instant distillation of the global response to the improbable, unsettling election of Donald Trump as president of the United States: #RIP America.

That hashtag declared that we had witnessed something more than a simple change of government. (Such a slogan would not have circulated had Mitt Romney beaten Barack Obama in 2012.) Instead, it implied that Trump had not merely taken over the running of the United States for four years, but that his presidency represented a much darker threat – that it would, in fact, destroy the country.

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The US has elected its most dangerous leader. We all have plenty to fear | Jonathan Freedland

The people of America have stepped into the abyss. The new president elect is an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar; he is capable of anything

We thought the United States would step back from the abyss. We believed, and the polls led us to feel sure, that Americans would not, in the end, hand the most powerful office on earth to an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar.

People all around the world had watched and waited, through the consecutive horrors of the 2016 election campaign, believing the Trump nightmare would eventually pass. But today the United States – the country that had, from its birth, seen itself as a beacon that would inspire the world, a society that praised itself as “the last best hope of earth”, the nation that had seemed to be bending the arc of history towards justice, as Barack Obama so memorably put it on this same morning eight years ago – has stepped into the abyss.

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Who is to blame for this awful US election?

Fox News? The four horsemen of the Republican apocalypse? The FBI? Whatever the outcome, historians will judge harshly those who did not stop Trump when they could

The US election might not end tomorrow. Anyone who lived through the photo-finish of 2000, when it took until mid-December for a winner to be declared – and only then by a ruling of the supreme court – will know that a presidential contest does not always produce a president, at least not right away. But one thing will certainly be over – and that is the dizzying, sometimes nauseating, 18-month-long saga that has been the 2016 campaign.

It is standard to describe a US presidential contest as bitter and divisive. In 2012, the Guardian’s front-page story branded the battle of Barack Obama v Mitt Romney “one of the most closely fought and polarised in recent history”. Looking back, that race looks like a veritable philosophy seminar, exemplary in its civility and decorum, compared with this one.

Related: If elected, Donald Trump poses the greatest threat to all our futures | Letters

The New York Times deserves great praise for keeping the spotlight on Trump by exposing his non-payment of tax

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If Donald Trump wins, it’ll be a new age of darkness | Jonathan Freedland

America stands on the brink of the abyss. Its choice could weaken the ties that make civilised order possible – in the US and beyond

We are standing on the brink of the abyss. And, like anyone who’s ever peered into a chasm, we are experiencing a queasy, sinking feeling. All round the world, not just in the United States, people are contemplating the prospect that on Wednesday morning we will wake to hear of victory for Donald J Trump.

Related: Donald Trump makes Pennsylvania play as election cranks up – campaign live

It's the contempt Trump shows for democratic norms that has people fearing they are witness to something akin to fascism

Related: A few months ago, I woke up to Brexit. Here's my advice to US voters | Stephen Moss

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US election and Brexit’s article 50 court case – Politics Weekly podcast

Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Hadley Freeman and Martin Kettle to discuss the US presidential election and the high court’s ruling against the government that parliament must be involved in the article 50 process of leaving the EU

High court says parliament must vote on triggering article 50 – Politics live

This year’s US presidential election has been part political thriller and part reality TV show. It comes to a climax next week as polls narrow and stock markets adjust to the renewed possibility of a Trump victory.

Joining Heather Stewart to discuss it all are Guardian columnists Hadley Freeman, Jonathan Freedland and Martin Kettle.

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