Amos Oz

Amos Oz

Amos Oz was our guest in Krakow on 20 October, at the invitation of his own main Polish publisher: Dom Wydawniczy Rebis, which in recent years has published Oz’s newest book Scenes From a Village Life, and on the occasion of the writer’s visit, will be preparing for publication his short stories Where the Jackals Howl. Partner in the visit of Amos Oz to Krakow are the Krakow Festival Office and the Tygodnik Powszechny Foundation – the organisers of the Second Joseph Conrad International Literature Festival. Amos Oz (1939) – Israeli essayist, prose author and journalist. His parents came to Palestine from Równe and Oddessa in the 1930s. Their marriage was ended by the tragic suicide of his mother in 1952, when Amos was 12 years old. Two years later Amos Klauser (his name by birth) decided to leave his family home in Jerusalem, took the name ‘Oz’ (meaning ‘strength’ in Hebrew), and settled in the kibbutz Hulda. There he worked, completed middle school, went through military service, began to publish his first short stories, and was sent to study philosophy and literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He returned to the kibbutz, where for over twenty years, he taught, worked and wrote. The experiences he took away from his stay on the kibbutz are described in his first novel entitled Elsewhere, Perhaps (1966). He took part in battles on the Sinai front (1967) and in the Golan Heights (1973). During 1969-1970 he travelled to Oxford, and in 1984-1985 to the United States. In 1986, at 46 years of age, he left the kibbutz and settled in Arad, a small town set in the desert of Negew, between Beer Shewa and the Dead Sea, where he continues to live today in a modest row house; he is a professor of the Hebrew Language at the University of Beer-Sheva and an activist with the Peace Now movement. He made his literary debut with the collection of short stories Where the Jackals Howl. He is counted among the so-called literary “Generation of the State of Israel”. This term describes creators whose literary identity was formed in an already independent State of Israel. Several of his other books have been translated into Polish, including Fima, My Michael (a book which was recognised by critics as the Israeli Madame Bovary), Black Box, Panther in the Basement, To Know a Woman, Unto Death, Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest, Rhyming Life and Death, and Scenes From a Village Life, as well as his newly-prepared selection Where the Jackals Howl. Apart from writing books, opinion journalism constitutes an important part of his life. The writer’s literary sensitivities were influenced by his mother (his father wanted him to become a scholar), reading him Agnon, Chekov, Tolstoy, Balzac, Flaubert, Dickens, Thomas Mann, Iwaszkiewicz, Knut Hamsum, and Hermann Hesse. The echoes of his childhood reading resound through his works, which are characterised by a propensity for refrain-like repetitions, ambiguities, insinuations, and self-irony. The painful history of Israel and Palestine, backed by his personal experience has become a main theme addressed in Oz’s work. He has received the Israel Prize for Literature, the Goethe Prize, the Heine Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award, and has been named as a favourite for the Nobel Prize. (MD)