ist, and journalist
. He is also a professor
at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.
Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice of a two-state solution
to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
. Oz's work has been published in some 30 languages, including Arabic in 35 countries.
The minute we leave south Lebanon we will have to erase the word Hezbollah from our vocabulary, because the whole idea of the State of Israel versus Hezbollah was sheer folly from the outset. It most certainly no longer will be relevant when Israel returns to her internationally recognized northern border.
The [political] left are people with an imagination and the right are those without an imagination.
ist, and journalist
. He is also a professor
at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.
Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice of a two-state solution
to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
. Oz's work has been published in some 30 languages, including Arabic in 35 countries. He has received many honours and awards, among them the French National Order of the Legion of Honour 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.
BiographyOz was born in Jerusalem, where he grew up at No. 18 Amos Street in the Kerem Avraham
neighborhood. Roughly half of his fiction is set within a mile of his boyhood home.
His parents, Yehuda Arieh Klausner and Fania Mussman, were Zionist
immigrants from Eastern Europe
. His father studied history and literature in Vilnius
and after immigrating, worked as a librarian and writer. His maternal grandfather had owned a mill in Rovno, Ukraine
, but moved with the family to Haifa
in 1934. Many of Klausner's family members were right-wing
. His great uncle Joseph Klausner
was the Herut
party candidate for the presidency against Chaim Weizmann
and was chair of the Hebrew literary society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
He and his family were distant from religion, disdaining what they perceived to be its irrationality. Yet he attended the community religious school Tachkemoni as the alternative was the socialist school affiliated with the labor movement, to which his family was decidedly opposed in their political values. The noted poet Zelda
was one of his teachers. After Tachkemoni he attended Gymnasia Rehavia
His mother who had suffered from depression, committed suicide when he was 12, repercussions of which he would explore in his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness
. Soon after at the age of 15, he became a Labor Zionist
, left home, and joined kibbutz Hulda
There he was adopted by the Huldai family (whose firstborn son Ron
now serves as mayor of Tel Aviv
) and lived a full kibbutz life. He also changed his surname to "Oz", Hebrew
for "strength". Asked why he did not leave Jerusalem for Tel Aviv, he later said, “Tel Aviv was not radical enough – only the kibbutz was radical enough.” However by his own account he was “a disaster as a laborer... the joke of the kibbutz.” When Oz first began to write, the kibbutz gave him one day a week to write, when his book “My Michael” became a best-seller, and he had become “a branch of the farm”, three days, and in the eighties he had four days for writing, while teaching for two days and taking turns as a waiter in the kibbutz dining hall on Saturdays.”
Like most Israeli Jews, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces. In the late 1950s he served in the kibbutz-oriented Nahal
unit and was involved in border skirmishes with Syria
; during the Six-Day War
(1967) he was with a tank
unit in Sinai
; during the Yom Kippur War
(1973) he served in the Golan Heights. After Nahal, Oz studied philosophy and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he was sent by the General Assembly of the kibbutz. After graduating in 1963, he worked as a teacher of literature and philosophy.
His earliest publications were a few 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. Following this, he began to write prolifically, publishing an average of one book per year on the Labor Party press, Am Oved. He ultimately left Am Oved, despite his political affiliation, and went to Keter Publishing House
and signed an exclusive contract that granted him a fixed monthly salary regardless of frequency of publication.
Oz married Nily Oz-Zuckerman in 1960. The couple has three children. They remained in kibbutz Hulda until they moved to Arad in the Negev
desert in 1986, due to their son Daniel's asthma
. Their oldest daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, teaches history at the University of Haifa
Oz has written 18 books in Hebrew, and about 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into some 30 languages, including Arabic. In 2008 he was Nr. 72 on the Foreign Policy/Prospect list of 100 top public intellectuals.
Awards and honours
- In 1976, Oz was awarded the Brenner PrizeBrenner PrizeThe Brenner Prize is an Israeli literary prize awarded annually by the Hebrew Writers Association in Israel and the Haft Family Foundation.It was founded in the name of the author Yosef Haim Brenner and was first awarded in 1945....
- In 1983, he was awarded the Bernstein PrizeBernstein PrizeThe Bernstein Prize is an annual Israeli literary award for writers 50 years of age and younger. The prize is awarded by the Bernstein Foundation, named after Mordechai Bernstein, who left money in his estate to establish a foundation in order to encourage young Hebrew writers...
(original Hebrew novel category), for A Perfect Peace.
- In 1984, he received the Officier des Arts et Lettres in France.
- In 1986, he was a co-recipient (jointly with Yitzhak Auerbuch-Orpaz) of the Bialik PrizeBialik PrizeThe Bialik Prize is an annual literary award given by the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel for significant accomplishments in Hebrew literature. The prize is named in memory of Hayyim Nahman Bialik. There are two separate prizes, one specifically for "Literature", which is in the field of fiction,...
- In 1988, he received the French Prix Femina Etranger.
- In 1992, he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book TradePeace Prize of the German Book TradeThe Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize given yearly at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main, Germany...
- In 1997, President Jacques Chirac presented him with the Légion d'honneur.
- In 1998, he was awarded the Israel PrizeIsrael PrizeThe Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...
, for literature.
- In 2004, he was awarded the Ovid PrizeOvid PrizeThe Ovid Prize, established in 2002, is a literary prize awarded annually to an author from any country, in recognition of a body of work. Past recipients include Orhan Pamuk, Andrei Codrescu, Amoz Oz, Jorge Semprún and António Lobo Antunes. It is named in honour of the Roman poet Ovid, who died in...
from the city of NeptunNeptunNeptun may refer to:*Neptun, Romania, resort town on the southeast Black Sea coast of Romania*Neptun , educational administration system used by universities and colleges in Hungary*SK Neptun, Swedish swim team...
, RomaniaRomaniaRomania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...
- In 2005, he was awarded the Goethe PrizeGoethe PrizeThe Goethe Prize of Frankfurt-am-Main is a German literary award of high prestige named after Johann Wolfgang Goethe. It was initially an annual award, but became triennial...
from the city of FrankfurtFrankfurtFrankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...
, Germany for his life's work, a prize which was awarded in the past to the likes of Sigmund FreudSigmund FreudSigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...
and Thomas MannThomas MannThomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...
- In 2005, he received the JQ Wingate Prize (nonfiction) for A Tale of Love and Darkness
- In 2006, he received the Jerusalem-Agnon Prize.
- In 2006, he received the Corine Prize (Germany).
- In 2007, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (Spain).
- In 2007, his book "A Tale of Love and Darkness" was nominated one of the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel.
- In 2008, he received the German President's High Honor Award.
- In 2008, he was awarded the Primo LeviPrimo LeviPrimo Michele Levi was an Italian Jewish chemist and writer. He was the author of two novels and several collections of short stories, essays, and poems, but is best known for If This Is a Man, his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland...
- In 2008, he received the Heinrich Heine PrizeHeinrich Heine PrizeHeinrich Heine Prize refers to two different awards named after the 19th century German poet Christian Johann Heinrich Heine:* Heinrich Heine prize of Düsseldorf...
of DüsseldorfDüsseldorfDüsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...
- In 2008, he received an Honorary DegreeHonorary degreeAn honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...
from the University of AntwerpUniversity of AntwerpThe University of Antwerp is one of the major Belgian universities located in the city of Antwerp. The name is sometimes abbreviated as UA.-History:...
- In 2008, he also received Tel Aviv University'sTel Aviv UniversityTel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...
Dan David PrizeDan David PrizeThe Dan David Prize annually awards 3 prizes of $1 million each awarded by the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in the fields of science, technology, culture or social welfare. There are three prize categories - past, present and...
("Past Category"), jointly with Atom EgoyanAtom EgoyanAtom Egoyan, OC is a critically acclaimed Armenian-Canadian stage director and film director. Egoyan made his career breakthrough with Exotica...
and Tom StoppardTom StoppardSir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL is a British playwright, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and...
, for "Creative Rendering of the Past".
- In 2010, he received the honorary fellowship from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Oz has been considered in recent years as a serious candidate to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature
In 2005, he was voted the 41st-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.
Literary careerBesides his fiction, Oz regularly publishes essays on the subjects of politics, literature, and peace. He has written extensively for the Israeli Labor newspaper Davar
and (since the demise of Davar in the 1990s) for Yedioth Ahronoth
. In English, his non-fiction has appeared in various places, including the New York Review of Books. Oz is one of the writers whose works literary researchers study from a fundamental approach. At Ben-Gurion University a special collection was established dealing with him and his works.
In his works, 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.
after the Six-Day War. He did so in a 1967 article "Land of our Forefathers" in the Labor newspaper Davar. "Even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation," he wrote. In 1978, he was one of the founders of Peace Now. Unlike some others in the Israeli peace movement, he does not oppose the construction of an Israeli West Bank barrier
, but believes that it should be roughly along the Green Line
, the pre-1967 border.
He has opposed settlement activity from the beginning and was among the first to praise the Oslo Accords
and talks with the PLO
. In his speeches and essays he frequently attacks the non-Zionist
left and always emphasizes his Zionist identity. He is identified by many right-wing observers as the most eloquent spokesperson of the Zionist left. His views can be encapsulated as follows:
Two Palestinian-Israeli wars have erupted in this region. One is the Palestinian nation's war for its freedom from occupation and for its right to independent statehood. Any decent person ought to support this cause. The second war is waged by fanatical Islam, from Iran to Gaza and from Lebanon to Ramallah, to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out of their land. Any decent person ought to abhor this cause." (April 7, 2002)
(Unofficial translation from Hebrew) Our biggest problem is the disappearance of social solidarity. A gross egotism is developing here, that isn't even ashamed of itself. Twenty years ago a girl from Bet Shean said on television "I'm hungry", and the doorposts shook (Isaiah 6:4). Yes, partly it was just lip service, but at least there was lip service. Today, even if she died of hunger on a live broadcast, nothing would happen, apart from high ratings and copywriters using the incident for their purposes. Anyone who once naively thought that the engine of the entrepreneurs and the rich would pull behind it a long train in which the rear cars would also go forward, was mistaken. That didn't happen. The engines are moving, and the rear cars are left behind on the rusting tracks. (September 6, 2002)
For many years Oz was identified with the Israeli Labor Party and was close to its leader Shimon Peres. When Shimon Peres
retired from party leadership, he is said to have named Oz as one of three possible successors, along with Ehud Barak
(later Prime Minister
) and Shlomo Ben-Ami
(later Barak's foreign minister). In the 1990s, Oz withdrew his support from Labor and went further left to the Meretz Party, where he had close connections with the leader, Shulamit Aloni
. In the elections to the sixteenth Knesset that took place in 2003, Oz appeared in the Meretz television campaign, calling upon the public to vote for Meretz.
In July 2006, Oz supported the Israeli army in its war with Lebanon
, writing in the Los Angeles Times
"Many times in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side… The Israeli peace movement should support Israel's attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians.
Like fellow Israeli novelists David Grossman
and A.B. Yehoshua, Oz changed his position (of unequivocal support for a military act of "self-defense" at the outbreak of the war) in the face of the cabinet's later decision to expand operations in Lebanon. Grossman shared their view at a press conference as he argued that Israel already exhausted its self-defense right.
On December 26, 2008, a day before the Israeli offensive into Gaza
commenced, Oz signed a statement published as an ad in Yediot Aharonot supporting military action against Hamas
. Two weeks later in a Yediot Aharonot article he advocated a ceasefire with Hamas and called attention to the harsh conditions there. He was also quoted in the Italian paper Corriere della Sera
as saying "Hamas is responsible" for the outbreak of violence, but "the time has come to seek a cease-fire." He called for a "complete cease-fire, in which they don't fire at us, in exchange for us easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip." Oz also condemned some of the actions taken by the Israeli defence forces and called them war crime
In an editorial in the New York Times of June 1, 2010, criticizing aspects of Israel's policy towards Gaza and its interception of the Marmara boat, Oz wrote: “Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians. No idea has ever been defeated by force ... To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one. Thus, the only way for Israel to edge out Hamas would be to quickly reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the establishment of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as defined by the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel has to sign a peace agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government in the West Bank — and by doing so, reduce the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip. That latter conflict, in turn, can be resolved only by negotiating with Hamas or, more reasonably, by the integration of Fatah with Hamas.”
In March 2011, Israeli media reported that Oz had sent imprisoned former Tanzim
leader Marwan Barghouti
a copy of his book A Tale of Love and Darkness
in Arabic translation with his personal dedication in Hebrew: “This story is our story, I hope you read it and understand us as we understand you, hoping to see you outside and in peace, yours, Amos Oz”. The gesture was criticized by members of rightist political parties. He was singled out for published criticism by the Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely
. The incident led Assaf Harofeh Hospital to cancel Oz's invitation to give the keynote speech at an awards ceremony for outstanding physicians.
- In the Land of Israel (essays on political issues) ISBN 015144644X
- Israel, Palestine and Peace: Essays (1995) (Previously published: Whose Holy Land? (1994).)
- Under This Blazing Light (1995) ISBN 0521443679
- Israeli Literature: a Case of Reality Reflecting Fiction (1985) ISBN 0935052127
- The Slopes of Lebanon (1989) ISBN 0151830908
- The Story Begins: Essays on Literature (1999) ISBN 0151002975
- A Tale of Love and DarknessA Tale of Love and DarknessA Tale of Love and Darkness is an autobiographical novel by Israeli author Amos Oz, first published in Hebrew in 2002.The book has been translated into 28 languages and over a million copies have been sold worldwide. In 2011, a bootleg Kurdish translation was found in a bookstore in northern Iraq...
(2003) ISBN 0151008787
- How to Cure a Fanatic (2006) ISBN 9780691126692
- Where the Jackals Howl (1965) ISBN 0151960380
- Elsewhere, Perhaps (1966) ISBN 0151837465
- My Michael (1968) ISBN 0394471466
- Unto Death (1971) ISBN 0151930953
- Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1973) ISBN 0151908737
- The Hill of Evil Counsel (1976) ISBN 070112248X ; ISBN 0151402345
- Soumchi (1978) ISBN 0060246219 ; ISBN 0156001934
- A Perfect Peace (1982) ISBN 015171696X
- Black BoxBlack Box (book)Black Box is a book by Israeli writer Amos Oz. It was first published in Israel in 1986 by Am Oved, and in the US by Harcourt in 1988.The book's plot deals with the tensions resulting from a destroyed marriage...
(1987) ISBN 015112888X
- To Know a Woman (1989) ISBN 0701135727 ; ISBN 0151904995
- Fima (1991) ISBN 0151898510
- Don't Call It Night (1994) ISBN 0151001529
- A Panther in the BasementA Panther in the Basement-Plot:Amos Oz's reminiscent novel describes the doings of a twelve-year-old boy in 1947, the last year of the British Mandate of Palestine, during the British–Zionist conflict. Young Proffy has organized a pro-Israel underground cell that proposes to blow up Buckingham Palace or perhaps 10 Downing...
(1995) ISBN 0151002878
- The Same Sea (1999) ISBN 0151005729
- The Silence of Heaven: Agnon’s Fear of God (2000) ISBN 0691036926
- Suddenly in the Depth of the Forest (A Fable for all ages) (2005)
- Rhyming Life and Death (2007) ISBN 978-0701182281
- Scenes from Village Life (2009)
External links/ Amos Oz Archive
- Amos Oz is most translated Israeli author
- 2008 Dan David Prize laureate
- Amos Oz – The Nature of Dreams, Documentary film about Amos Oz: In-depth interviews, situations and literature quotes
- Heinrich Heine Award for Amos Oz: A Literary Bridge-Builder Par Excellence
- Tal Niv from Haaretz speaks with Amos Oz about "Rhyming Life and Death" and more
- Amos Oz interviewed on CBC RadioCBC Radio OneCBC Radio One is the English language news and information radio network of the publicly-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is commercial free and offers both local and national programming...
's Writers and CompanyWriters and CompanyWriters & Company is a Canadian radio show that airs Sunday afternoons on CBC Radio One. Hosted by Eleanor Wachtel, the program broadcasts interviews with Canadian and international writers....
- “Arafat's gift to us: Sharon”, The Guardian, February 8, 2001
- “An end to Israeli occupation will mean a just war”, The Observer, April 7, 2002
- “Free at last”, Ynetnews, August 21, 2005
- “This can be a vote for peace”, The Guardian, March 30, 2006
- “Defeating the extremists”, Ynetnews, November 21, 2007
- “Don't march into Gaza”, Ynetnews, February 13, 2008
- “Secure ceasefire now”, Ynetnews, December 31, 2008
- List of Israel Prize recipients
- List of Bialik Prize recipientsBialik PrizeThe Bialik Prize is an annual literary award given by the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel for significant accomplishments in Hebrew literature. The prize is named in memory of Hayyim Nahman Bialik. There are two separate prizes, one specifically for "Literature", which is in the field of fiction,...