Writers Line Up For Israel's Top Literary Prize by the Forward

Writers Line Up For Israel's Top Literary Prize

Reuven Namdar in New York. Photo by Beth Kissileff.

In a time when the famed British Man Booker Prize has been opened to writers in English from all countries, Israel too has achieved a milestone. For the first time in its 14 years, the Sapir Prize, given by Mif’al Ha-Payis (Israel’s national lottery), has on its long list of 12 novels one by New York based writer Reuven Namdar.

Though it is in part a meditation on the service of a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, Namdar’s novel, “The Ruined House,” takes place entirely in New York City, and is based in locales like the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights and Wave Hill in the Bronx (called View Hill in the book). This unprecedented level of recognition for Hebrew writers living and working outside of Israel speaks to a different side of Israeli literature and an awareness of how it is widening.

The rest of the list also indicates a sense of wide horizons. It includes past nominee and the author of over 20 books Lea Aini, for “Daughter of the Place”; veteran writer Galit Distel Etebaryan for “Peacock on the Steps”; Celine Assayag for “Overturned Cry”; Nir Baram for “World Shadow,” and Hagit Grossman for “Lila and Louis.”

Other nominees include “I am Leona” by 2002 Sapir prize winner Gail Hareven (her “The Confessions of Noa Weber” was published in English in 2009); “Four Lands” by Matan Hermoni; “The Quiet of the Planters” by Levana Moshon; “Written Fire by Yael Neeman; “Borderlife” by Dorit Rabinyan and “The Latecomers” by Agur Schiff.

Matan Hermoni is also the editor of the anthology “America: The Yiddish World of Shtetl America,” which brings stories by Yiddish writers living in America into Hebrew. Hermoni can be read in English in a new anthology “Tel Aviv Noir,” edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron.

Based on the Man Booker Prize, the Sapir Prize will come out with its short list in December.

Writers Line Up For Israel's Top Literary Prize

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Writers Line Up For Israel's Top Literary Prize

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close