At a gala ceremony in Tel Aviv January 16, author Haggai Linik joined a select group of literary luminaries when his third novel, “Darush Lahshan” (“Prompter Needed”) was awarded Israel’s Sapir Prize for Literature. Inaugurated in 2000, the Sapir Prize is Israel’s most prestigious literary prize. Awarded by Mifal HaPayis — the National Lottery — the Sapir Prize has previously been given to authors such as Ron Leshem, Gail Haraven, Sara Shilo and David Grossman.
Like many other book awards, the prize has been tinged with controversy in the past. Several leading authors have declined to submit their books for adjudication, claiming a bias towards bestsellers over “quality” literature; more recently, the 2009 award, to Alon Hilu for “Ahuzat Dajani” (translated into English as “The House of Rajani”), was revoked amidst an unseemly row involving allegations of censorship and conflicts of interest in the judging panel. But none of these problems were evident at a tightly choreographed award ceremony, presented by media darling Avri Gilad and with entertainment from virtuoso pianist Shlomi Shaban.