Spanish-born writer Antonio Munoz Molina was awarded the 2013 Jerusalem Prize
Sunday night at the opening of the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair at the
International Convention Center.
With President Shimon Peres in
attendance, retired Supreme Court justice Daila Dorner, who headed the jury,
described Molina as “the most outstanding among the most outstanding.”
preserves historical memory in numerous ways, she said, and does not hesitate to
wander among different literary genres and subjects.
The jury had been
particularly impressed by the sympathy Molina expresses for exiles, “which makes
him one of the most important authors of our time.”
“We have been struck
by his depth of morality, his humanism and his intellectuality,” she
Peres confessed that he been moved almost to tears when reading
Molina’s book, especially the chapter entitled “Those that wait,” which presents
so many indepth unanswered questions about our lives.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat said that Molina’s writing expressed tolerance and the freedom of the
individual, and touched the complexity of the soul. He thanked the author for
resisting pressures urging him not to come to Jerusalem.
almost embarrased to be delivering the speech in public, because writing is a
He thanked the translators for making his work
available to a Hebrew readership, saying that they also deserved an
Stressing the significance of literature both to writer and
reader, Molina said it was important for parents and teachers to pass on to
children a love of the written word.
This year’s fair marks the debut of
new chairman Avi Pasner, a retired diplomat who served as a senior adviser to
former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir and, after retiring from the Foreign
Ministry as chairman of Keren Hayesod.
Barkat had nominated Pasner to
step into the late Zev Birger’s large shoes.
Birger took a small book
fair and transformed it into one of the largest and most important of its kind
in the world, said Barkat.
Peres also paid tribue to Birger. He said that
other than Teddy Kollek, no-one had made a greater contribution to
Barkat described Birger as a great Jew and a great Israeli who
turned the bookfair into Israel’s intellectual visiting card. The Jerusalem
editorial and agent fellowship will now bear Birger’s name.
said, had turned the city into the “capital of the book.”
that “it was strange and difficult to open the book fair without him, first as
its director, then as chairman, for 30 years.
The book fair was launched
in 1963, with the first of the biannual Jerusalem prizes awarded to Bertrude
Russell by former mayor Mordechai Ish Shalom.