Keret was born in Ramat Gan, Israel. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife, Shira Geffen, and their son, Lev. He is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, and in the Tel Aviv University.
Keret's first published work was Pipelines (???????, Tzinorot, 1992), a collection of short stories which was initially ignored. In 1993 he won the first prize in the Alternative Theater Festival in Akko for Entebbe: A Musical which he wrote with Jonathan Bar Giora. His second book, Missing Kissinger(??????? ???????'?, Ga'aguai le-Kissinger, 1994), a collection of fifty very short stories, caught the attention of the general public. His short story "Siren", which deals with the paradoxes of modern Israeli society, is included in the curriculum for the Israeli bagrut examination in literature.
Keret has co-authored several comic books, among them Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Fun (?? ???? ??????, Lo banu leihanot, 1996) with Rutu Modan and Streets of Fury (?????? ????, Simtaot Hazaam, 1997) with Asaf Hanuka. In 1999 five of his stories were translated into English, and adapted into "graphic novellas" under the joint title Jetlag. The illustrators were the five members of the Actus Tragicus collective.
In 1998 Keret published Kneller's Happy Campers (??????? ?? ????, Hakaytana Shel Kneller), a collection of short stories. The title story, the longest in the collection, follows a young man who commits suicide and goes on a quest for love in the afterlife. It appears in the English language collection of Keret's stories The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God & Other Stories (2004) and was also adapted into the graphic novel Pizzeria Kamikaze (2006), with illustrations by Asaf Hanuka. The story was also adapted by director Goran Dukic into a feature-length film called A Love Story starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Tom Waits and Will Arnett. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Keret's latest short story collection in Hebrew is Anihu (?????, literally I-am-him, 2002; translated into English as Cheap Moon, after one of the other stories in the collection).
Keret also wrote a children's book Dad Runs Away with the Circus (2004), illustrated by Rutu Modan.
Keret publishes some of his works on the Hebrew-language web site "Bimah Hadashah" (New Stage).
Keret has also worked in Israeli television and film, including three seasons as a writer for the popular sketch show The Cameri Quintet. He also wrote the story for the 2001 TV movie Aball'e starring Shmil Ben Ari.
In 2006, A Love Story, a dark comedy/love story based on Keret's novella Kneller's Happy Campers, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Etgar and his wife Shira directed the 2007 film Jellyfish, based on a story written by Shira.
$9.99, a stop motion animated feature film, was released in 2009. Written by Keret and directed by Tatia Rosenthal, it is an Israeli/Australian co-production featuring the voices of Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia and other leading Australian actors.
's writing style is lean, utilizing everyday language, slang, and dialect. His work has influenced many writers of his generation, as well as bringing a renewed surge in popularity for the short story form in Israel in the second half of the 1990s.
Keret has received the Prime Minister's award for literature, as well as the Ministry of Culture's Cinema Prize. In 2006 he was chosen as an outstanding artist of the prestigious Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation. The short film Malka Lev Adom (Skin Deep, 1996) which Keret wrote and directed with Ran Tal, won an Israel Film Academy award and first place in the Munich International Festival of Film Schools. The film Jellyfish, a joint venture for Keret and his wife received the Camera d'Or prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Keret is currently on the jury for the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
A review of Missing Kissinger describes Etgar Keret's locale as that of "male confusion, loneliness, blundering, bellowing and, above all, stasis. His narrator is trapped in an angry masculine wistfulness which is awful to behold in its masturbatory disconnection from the world's real possibilities and pleasures." Etgar is "not much of a stylist - you get the impression that he throws three or four of these stories off on the bus to work every morning," and his "wild, blackly inventive pieces...might have been dreamed up by a mad scientist rather than a writer."