BERLIN – The Die Welt daily presented Zeruya Shalev, one of Israel’s most
acclaimed fiction writers, with its annual 10,000 euro literary prize for her
body of novels at a ceremony on Friday.
The paper’s literary jury dubbed
Shalev’s writings as marked by “great magical language.”
Shalev has an
enormous literary readership in the Federal Republic. The German book program Das
Literarische Quartett, hosted by prominent German- Polish Jewish literary critic
Marcel Reich-Ranicki, praised her book Love Life in 2001 along with his
co-hosts, quickly catapulting the work to literary stardom.
Salamander, publisher of Die Welt’s literary supplement, told a packed audience
at publisher Springer Verlag media group headquarters that that a million
viewers watched Reich- Ranicki on the evening when he declared that Shalev’s
book “belongs to the best of what I have read this year.”
delves into the trials and tribulations of a young married woman who falls in
love with a cynical older man, and German actress Maria Schrader in 2007
directed the joint German- Israeli film production of the work (known as
Liebesleben in German).
Shalev spoke at the prize ceremony about the
biblical influences on her writings as well as her travels as an Israeli writer,
saying she is asked at “every international event about why she doesn’t write
“I feel that my country is at my side for better or
worse,” she affirmed.
Literary inspiration for Shalev was “the beauty of
Jewish sources, primarily the Bible.” She recalled how as a young girl, her
father read her biblical stories about Ruth, Moses and Abraham, and that he
later introduced her to the writings of Franz Kafka.
Shalev was born on
Kibbutz Kinneret and lives in Jerusalem, and holds a master’s in Biblical
Studies from the Hebrew University.
She joins the ranks of 13 literary
giants who have previously won the Die Welt prize, including Israel’s Amos Oz;
Imre Kertész, who won the 2002 Noble Prize for literature; Philip Roth; Yasmina
Reza; and Leon de Winter.
Shalev said that Die Welt is “the new face of
Germany” because the paper shows a deep interest in Israel and Israeli
Salamander – who was born in a displaced persons camp in
post-Holocaust Germany – is the head of the daily’s literary supplement, and has
garnered a reputation as one of Germany’s leading literature experts. Its prize
is awarded in memory of Willy Haas (1891-1973), the German-Jewish founder of the
paper’s literary section.