2005 Goethe Prize Winner - Amos Oz, Israel


Amos Oz

Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז; born May 4, 1939, birth name Amos Klausner) is an Israeli writer, novelist, journalist and intellectual. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

Oz's work has been published in 42 languages, including Arabic, in 43 countries. He has received many honours and awards, among them the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature, the Heinrich Heine Prize and the Israel Prize. In 2007, a selection from the Chinese translation of A Tale of Love and Darkness was the first work of modern Hebrew literature to appear in an official Chinese textbook.

Since 1967, Oz has been a prominent advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Literary career

Oz's earliest publications were short articles in the kibbutz newsletter and the newspaper Davar. His first book Where the Jackals Howl, a collection of short stories, was published in 1965. His first novel Elsewhere, Perhaps was published in 1966. Subsequently Oz averaged a book per year with the Histadrut press Am Oved. Ultimately Oz left Am Oved for the Keter Publishing House, which offered him an exclusive contract that granted him a fixed monthly salary regardless of output.

Oz has published 38 books, among them 13 novels, four collections of stories and novellas, children’s books, and nine books of articles and essays (as well as six selections of essays that appeared in various languages), and about 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into some 42 languages, including Arabic.

Oz's political commentary and literary criticism have been published in the Histradrut newspaper Davar and Yedioth Ahronoth. Translations of his essays have appeared in the New York Review of Books. The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev maintains an archive of his work.

Oz tends to present protagonists in a realistic light with an ironic touch while his treatment of the life in the kibbutz is accompanied by a somewhat critical tone. Oz credits a 1959 translation of American writer Sherwood Anderson's short story collection Winesburg, Ohio with his decision to “write about what was around me.” In A Tale of Love and Darkness, his memoir of coming of age in the midst of Israel's violent birth pangs, Oz credits Anderson's “modest book” with his own realization that "the written world … always revolves around the hand that is writing, wherever it happens to be writing: where you are is the center of the universe." In his 2004 essay "How to Cure a Fanatic" (later the title essay of a 2006 collection), Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute — one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise.