Pen and paper (illustrative)..
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Prizewinning author Ronit Matalon died on Thursday at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, following a long bout with cancer. She was 58.
Much of Matalon’s writing focused on the identity issues of North African Jews in Israel and the status of women in those communities. In 2009, she was appointed head of the Hebrew Creative Writing program at the University of Haifa.
Matalon was born in Ganei Tikva and studied literature and philosophy at Tel Aviv University. She began her writing career as a journalist at Haaretz
and her initial works as an author began to appear in the early 1980s. Her writings were published in the literary pages of various newspapers, and her books were translated into English and German.
The most famous and the last of her novels, And the Bride Closed the Door (2016), is about an unwilling bride who locks herself in a room in her mother’s house and refuses to emerge.
Matalon won many literary prizes, and in recognition of her contribution to Hebrew literature, the Hebrew University conferred an honorary doctorate on her.
Although she did write several books, Matalon was not a prolific writer and there were sometimes long gaps between one book and another. When asked why, she replied that she writes only when she has something to say.
In a eulogy to Matalon, President Reuven Rivlin, who is an avid reader, wrote on his Facebook page that she was not only a wonderful writer but that she had projected a clear, determined female voice in her writing, and that through her academic work
she had raised a new generation of Israeli writers.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said that she was heartbroken over Matalon’s death. The collection of awards Matalon received during her lifetime included the Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature, and the Brenner Prize for her last book, said Regev.
Referring to the title of that book, Regev said: “The bride closed the door to our world but opened many people’s doors to thoughtful literature that will remain with us forever.”
Matalon was eulogized by several well-known fellow writers who praised her wisdom and sensitivity, as well as her unique voice in Israel’s literary treasure trove.