PM (briefly) congratulates David Grossman on winning Man Booker prize
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Novelist is highly critical of PM's policy on the Palestinians

PM (briefly) congratulates David Grossman on winning Man Booker prize

In one-sentence statement, Netanyahu praises author's 'abilities and literary works'

Author David Grossman (left), shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel 'A Horse Walked Into a Bar,' interviewed by Benjamin Balint in an event hosted by the Times of Israel in Jerusalem, April 2, 2017. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Author David Grossman (left), shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel 'A Horse Walked Into a Bar,' interviewed by Benjamin Balint in an event hosted by the Times of Israel in Jerusalem, April 2, 2017. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Israeli author David Grossman on wining the Man Booker International Prize of 2017 for his novel “A Horse Walks into a Bar,” becoming the first Israeli writer to receive the prestigious award.

In a one-sentence press release by the Prime Minister’s Office, some 24 hours after the announcement, Netanyahu said the prize “reveals [Grossman’s] abilities as an author and his literary works.”

Grossman has been an outspoken critic of the prime minister and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

He was announced as the winner of the award on Wednesday. His novel, translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen, is set in a comedy club in Netanya, focusing on an embittered comedian falling apart on stage.

“David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly,” said chair of the judging panel Nick Barley in a statement.

Grossman says his prize-winning novel is a window into ‘the intensity’ that is Israel

“‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft,” he said.

US translator Jessica Cohen (L) and Israeli author David Grossman (R) pose for a photograph with his book A Horse Walks Into a Bar at the shortlist photocall for the Man Booker International Prize at St James' Church in London on June 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel Leal-Olivas)
US translator Jessica Cohen (L) and Israeli author David Grossman (R) pose for a photograph with his book A Horse Walks Into a Bar at the shortlist photocall for the Man Booker International Prize at St James’ Church in London on June 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel Leal-Olivas)

“Thank you all. I will cherish this award and this evening,” Grossman said after receiving the prize at a ceremony in central London.

“I thank first of all my wonderful, devoted, translator, Jessica Cohen,” the 63-year-old author added.

The translator, Cohen, was born in England, raised in Israel and lives in Denver, and has translated Grossman as well as Etgar Keret, Rutu Modan, Dorit Rabinyan and others.

Grossman and Cohen will share the £50,000 ($64,000) award.

The cover of David Grossman's latest novel, 'A Horse Walks Into a Bar' (Courtesy Random House)
The cover of David Grossman’s latest novel, ‘A Horse Walks Into a Bar’ (Courtesy Random House)

Since he started writing in the late 1970s after being fired from public radio following anger over his critical coverage, Grossman has won numerous Israeli and international awards.

His 1986 novel “See Under: Love” is seen by a number of critics as his masterpiece, delving into the Holocaust and the generation of Jews that followed.

His 2008 novel “To the End of the Land,” published after his son Uri who was killed fighting in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, contemplates the effects of war while portraying Israeli life.

Grossman’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and he was also decorated with France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.

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