Esther Peled wins Sapir Prize

Author beats out two former winners to collect honor.

The book cover of 'Widely Open Underneath' by Esther Peled (photo credit: Courtesy)
The book cover of 'Widely Open Underneath' by Esther Peled
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s 2017 Sapir Prize, one of its highest literary honors, was awarded to Esther Peled for her book Widely Open Underneath.
The top prize includes NIS 150,000 and translation of the book into Arabic and into another language of the author’s choosing.
In accepting the award on Monday night in Tel Aviv, Peled said she didn’t prepare a speech because she never imagined she would win.
“Thank you for this incredibly surprising and joyous thing,” she said. “Thank you to all those who read my book. It was a big shock to see when it joined the bestseller lists.”
Peled beat out the four other authors on the shortlist, including two who have won the prize in the past and one who was nominated four times. The other nominees were Shimon Adaf’s Tolle Lege, Sami Berdugo’s Because Guy, Amir Ziv’s Four Fathers and Noa Yedlin’s Stockholm.
In 2012, Adaf won the Hebrew literature prize for his novel Mox Nox, and in 2013 Yedlin won for House Arrest. This was Berdugo’s fourth nomination and the fourth time he left empty-handed. Every author on the shortlist received NIS 40,000.
“With an extraordinary combination of humor, wisdom and courage, Esther Peled challenges the narrative of the initiation processes of young women,” the judges wrote about her win. “The experience of encountering the other and experiencing loneliness are examined in a fresh and innovative way.”