Arnon Grunberg


It's not the religion, stupid

The (late) launch of “The Jewish Messiah” took place in the spacious penthouse of the former Forward-building; rumor has it that the penthouse is for sale for $ 3.3 million. I didn’t see a kitchen, but who needs a kitchen these days? The klezmer music was loud but good and the vodka terrific.
A small group of people ended up in a club in the West Village. To my surprise plenty of people were smoking there.
While I was talking to another writer a young man, clearly drunk and looking eerily like the young Bob Dylan, came to our table. He asked the other writer: “Can I have a sip of your drink?” She answered: “Why?” And the young Bob Dylan declared: “Because I’m a bum.” Who could refuse a bum a sip of his drink? When the other writer went up to go to the wardrobe the young Bob declared – who happened to write poetry, although I’m afraid the difference between getting drunk and writing poetry was not that big for him: “She is cute. Do you think I can sleep with her?” “You have to ask her yourself,” I responded.
Also I got informed that there is no such thing as dating in the UK. You get drunk, you get laid; there is the shameful walk home in your old clothes. And that’s it. If you are out of luck you are pregnant.
I don’t know why but when I heard this I was reminded of a conversation I had a week ago with one of my Israeli publishers. He said: “The biggest problem in the Arab world for young men is sex. No sex can drive young men crazy.” Keep this in mind: it’s not religion; it’s sex.
And also: the UK-system might not be perfect, but it’s better than nothing.