David Grossman

David Grossman

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David Grossman is an Israeli author. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have won numerous prizes.

He is also a noted activist and critic of Israeli policy toward Palestinians. The Yellow Wind, his non-fiction study of the life of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 met with acclaim abroad but sparked controversy at home. Alongside Amos Oz
Amos Oz
Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva....

, he has been one of the most prominent cultural advocates of a two-state solution
Two-state solution
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007...

 to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...


He addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his latest novel, To the End of the Land
To the End of the Land
To the End of the Land is a 2008 novel by Israeli writer David Grossman depicting the emotional strains that family members of soldiers experience when their loved ones are deployed into combat...

. Since that book's publication he has written a children's book, an opera
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 for children and several poems.


David Grossman was born in Jerusalem. He is the eldest of two brothers.

His mother, Michaella, was born in Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine existed while the British Mandate for Palestine, which formally began in September 1923 and terminated in May 1948, was in effect...

; his father, Yitzhak, emigrated from Poland with his widowed mother at the age of nine. His mother's family was Zionist and poor, his grandfather having paved roads in the Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and supplementing his income by buying and selling rugs. His maternal grandmother was a manicurist. His paternal grandmother left Poland after being harassed by police, never before having left the region where she'd been born. Along with her son and daughter, she traveled to Palestine where she became a cleaner in wealthy neighbourhoods.

Grossman's father was a bus driver, then a librarian, and it was through him that David – "a reading child" – was able to build up an interest in literature, which would later become his career. Grossman recalled, "He gave me many things, but what he mostly gave me was Sholem Aleichem." Aleichem, who was born in Ukraine, is one of the greatest writers in Yiddish, though he is now best known as the man whose stories were the inspiration for Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters by Sholem Aleichem...


In 1971, Grossman began his national service
National service
National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes . The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes...

 working in military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

. Although he was in the army when the Yom Kippur war
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 broke out in 1973, he saw no action.

Grossman studied philosophy and theater at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

. After university, Grossman began working in radio, where he'd once been a child actor, eventually becoming an anchor on Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael is Israel's public domestic and international radio service, operated as a division of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.-History:...

, Israel's national broadcasting service. In 1988 he was sacked for refusing to bury the news that the Palestinian leadership had declared its own state and conceded Israel's right to exist.

Grossman lives in Mevasseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He is married to Michal Grossman, a child psychologist and the mother of his three children, Jonathan, 28, Ruth, 18, and the late Uri.

Politics and activism

Grossman is an outspoken peace activist who is politically left wing.

Initially supportive of Israel's action during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War #Other uses|Tammūz]]) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War , was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. The principal parties were Hezbollah...

 on the grounds of self defence, on August 10, 2006, he and fellow authors Amos Oz
Amos Oz
Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva....

 and A.B. Yehoshua held a press conference at which they strongly urged the government to agree to a ceasefire that would create the basis for a negotiated solution saying: "We had a right to go to war. But things got complicated... I believe that there is more than one course of action available."

Two days later, his 20-year-old son Uri, a staff sergeant in an armoured unit, was killed by an anti-tank missile during an IDF
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 operation in southern Lebanon shortly before the ceasefire. However, Grossman explained that the death of his son did not change his opposition to Israel's policy towards the Palestinians. Although Grossman had carefully avoided writing about politics, in his stories, if not his journalism, the death of his son prompted him to deal with the Israeli-Palestintian conflict in greater detail. This appeared in his latest book To The End of the Land.

Two months after his son's death, Grossman addressed a crowd of 100,000 Israelis who had gathered to mark the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 in 1995. He denounced Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

's government for a failure of leadership and he argued that reaching out to the Palestinians was the best hope for progress in the region.

Of course I am grieving, but my pain is greater than my anger. I am in pain for this country and for what you [Olmert] and your friends are doing to it.

About his personal link to the war, Grossman said:

There were people who stereotyped me, who considered me this naive leftist who would never send his own children into the army, who didn't know what life was made of. I think those people were forced to realise that you can be very critical of Israel and yet still be an integral part of it; I speak as a reservist in the Israeli army myself.

In 2010 Grossman, his wife, and her family attended demonstrations against the spread of Israeli Settlements. While attending weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah
Sheikh Jarrah
Sheikh Jarrah is a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem on the road to Mount Scopus.-History:Sheikh Jarrah was established on the slopes of Mount Scopus, taking its name from the tomb of Sheikh Jarrah. The tomb, dated to 1201, is the burial place of Husam al-Din al-Jarrahi, an...

 [in east Jerusalem] against Jewish settlers taking over houses in Palestinian neighbourhoods he was assaulted by police. About the incident Grossman said, "we were beaten by the police." When asked by a reporter for The Guardian newspaper
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

about how a renowned writer could be beaten he replied, "I don't know if they know me at all."

Awards and honors

  • In 1984, Grossman won the Prime Minister's Prize for Creative Work;
  • In 1985 and again in 1993, he was awarded the Bernstein Prize
    Bernstein Prize
    The Bernstein Prize is an annual Israeli literary award for writers 50 years of age and younger. The prize is awarded by the Bernstein Foundation, named after Mordechai Bernstein, who left money in his estate to establish a foundation in order to encourage young Hebrew writers...

     (original Hebrew novel category);
  • In 2001, he was award the Sapir Prize
    Sapir Prize
    The Sapir Prize for Literature of Israel is a prestigious annual literary award presented for a work of fine literature. The prize is awarded by Mifal Hapayis , and is a part of the organization's cultural initiatives...

     for Someone to Run With;
  • In 2004, he was award the JQ Wingate Prize (fiction) for Someone to Run With;
  • In 2004, he was awarded the Italian prize Premio Flaiano
    Ennio Flaiano
    Ennio Flaiano , was an Italian screenwriter, playwright, novelist, journalist and drama critic...

  • In 2004, he was a co-recipient (jointly with Haya Shenhav and Ephraim Sidon
    Ephraim Sidon
    Ephraim Sidon is a renowned Israeli author, playwright and satirist, cherished for both for his satirical work and his children's books.-Biography:...

    ) of the Bialik Prize
    Bialik Prize
    The Bialik Prize is an annual literary award given by the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel for significant accomplishments in Hebrew literature. The prize is named in memory of Hayyim Nahman Bialik. There are two separate prizes, one specifically for "Literature", which is in the field of fiction,...

     for literature
    Hebrew literature
    Hebrew literature consists of ancient, medieval, and modern writings in the Hebrew language. It is one of the primary forms of Jewish literature, though there have been cases of literature written in Hebrew by non-Jews...

  • In 2007, he was awarded the Emet Prize
    EMET Prize
    The Emet Prize for Art, Science and Culture is an annual Israeli prize given for excellence in academic and professional achievements that have far reaching influence and significant contribution to society....

  • In 2007, he received the Ischia International Journalism Award
    Ischia International Journalism Award
    The Ischia International Journalism Award is one of the most important Italian journalism awards. It is organized under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, the Regione Campania, the Province of Naples, the National Federation of the Italian Press and the Order of...

  • On February 2, 2007, he was awarded the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa
    Honorary degree
    An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

     by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is a Dutch-speaking university in Flanders, Belgium.It is located at the centre of the historic town of Leuven, and is a prominent part of the city, home to the university since 1425...

    , Belgium;
  • In 2008, he received the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis
    The Geschwister-Scholl-Preis is a literary prize which was initiated in 1980 by the State Association of Bavaria in the Stock Market Society of the German Book Trade and the city of Munich...

  • In 2010, he received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize given yearly at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main, Germany...

  • In 2011, he was award the JQ Wingate Prize for To the End of the Land.

In 2005, he was voted the 97th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Fiction in English translation

  • Duel [דו קרב / Du-krav, 1982]. London: Bloomsbury, 1998, ISBN 0-7475-4092-6
  • The Smile of the Lamb [חיוך הגדי / Hiyukh ha-gedi: roman, 1983]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1990, ISBN 0-374-26639-5
  • See Under: Love [עיין ערך: אהבה / Ayen erekh—-ahavah: roman, 1986]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989, ISBN 0-374-25731-0
  • The Book of Intimate Grammar [ספר הדקדוק הפנימי / Sefer ha-dikduk ha-penimi: roman, 1991]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994, ISBN 0-374-11547-8
  • The Zigzag Kid [יש ילדים זיג זג / Yesh yeladim zigzag, 1994]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997, ISBN 0-374-52563-3 – won two prizes in Italy: the Premio Mondello in 1996, and the Premio Grinzane Cavour
    Grinzane Cavour
    Grinzane Cavour is a comune in the Province of Cuneo in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 50 km southeast of Turin and about 45 km northeast of Cuneo.Grinzane Cavour borders the municipalities of Alba and Diano d'Alba....

     in 1997.
  • Be My Knife [שתהיי לי הסכין / She-tihyi li ha-sakin, 1998]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001, ISBN 0-374-29977-3
  • Someone to Run With [מישהו לרוץ איתו / Mishehu laruts ito, 2000]. London: Bloomsbury, 2003, ISBN 0-7475-6207-5
  • Her Body Knows: two novellas [בגוף אני מבינה / Ba-guf ani mevinah: tsemed novelot, 2003]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005, ISBN 0-374-17557-8
  • To the End of the Land [אישה בורחת מבשורה / Isha Borahat MiBesora, 2008]. Jessica Cohen, trans. Knopf, 2010, ISBN 0-307-59297-9

Nonfiction in English translation

  • The Yellow Wind [הזמן הצהוב / Ha-Zeman ha-tsahov, 1987]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1988, ISBN 0-374-29345-7
  • Sleeping on a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel [נוכחים נפקדים / Nokhehim Nifkadim, 1992]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993, ISBN 0-374-17788-0
  • Death as a Way of Life: Israel Ten Years after Oslo [מוות כדרך חיים / Mavet ke-derech khayyim, 2003]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, ISBN 0-374-10211-2
  • Lion’s honey : the myth of Samson [דבש אריות / Dvash arayiot, 2005]. Edinburgh; New York: Canongate, 2006, ISBN 1-84195-656-2


  • Smile of the Lamb (novel) was the basis for an award-winning film written and directed by Shimon Dotan
    Shimon Dotan
    Shimon Dotan is an award winning film director, screenwriter, and producer.-Early life:Shimon Dotan was born in Romania in 1949 and moved to Israel in 1959...

  • Someone to Run With (novel) was the basis for a film directed by Oded Davidoff.

External links