Winner of prestigious Sapir Prize forced to give it back

Comes after concerns raised about conflict of interest between author and one of the judges, Yossi Sarid.

Yossi Sarid 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Yossi Sarid 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Alon Hilu, winner of this year's prestigious Sapir Prize for literature, will be forced to give back the NIS 150,000 award after the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel raised concerns of a conflict of interest between him and one of the judges, former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid. The other nominees, winners of NIS 25,000 each, will be forced to it back, following similar concerns regarding other judges. "I am shocked and surprised," one of the winners, former Ma'ariv editor Amnon Dankner, told Army Radio on Thursday morning. "I believe what has happened here, contrary to reports, is that the problem is that the editor [of the winning book] is the niece of Yossi Sarid. There was also a problem with another of the judges, Prof. [Ariel] Hirschfeld, because the book he backed was dedicated to him." "I don't think we can hide behind the excuse of being a small country," he said. "I didn't know about the relationship, though, and I think that really innocent people, like the contestants and the winner, have been harmed by the inappropriate conduct of the members of the judging committee," Dankner said. "Even if they didn't have any bad intentions, the result is catastrophic and terrible. We all deserve an apology." The Sapir Prize, based on the British Man Booker Prize, is the most lucrative literary prize awarded in Israel. In addition, the winner is granted translation of his work to the language of his choice. Hilu had received the award, sponsored by the National Lottery, Mifal HaPayis, for his book Ahuzat Dajani (The House of Dajani), while Dankner was recognized as a finalist for his work Yomav Ve'leylotav Shel Hadoda Eva (Aunt Eva, His Nights and Days).