Award-winning Israeli author Amir Gutfreund dies at 52

Gutfreund was best known for novel based on his experiences growing up with parents who survived the Holocaust

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Writer Amir Gutfreund in Tel Aviv on December 31 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Writer Amir Gutfreund in Tel Aviv on December 31 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Renowned Israeli author Amir Gutfreund died on Saturday at the age of 52 after a year-long battle with cancer.

Born in Haifa to Holocaust survivors in 1963, Gutfreund earned an MA in applied-mathematics from the prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and went on to serve as an officer in the air force doing mathematical research for 20 years. He retired with the rank of Lt. colonel.

His first novel, “Our Holocaust”, is based on his memories as the son of Holocaust survivors, and humorously explored his personal struggle to understand the horrors of the Holocaust as a child.

Gutfreund’s 2001 literary debut was warmly received by critics and instantly brought him acclaim as a writer.

In 2002, Gutfreund won the Buchman prize from the Yad Vashem Institute as well as the Sami Rohr Choice Award from the Jewish Book Council in 2007 for the novel.

“Our Holocaust” has been translated from Hebrew into a number of languages including English, French, German, Dutch and Hungarian.

In 2003, he was awarded the prestigious Sapir Prize in 2003 for his novel “Ahuzot Hahof (Seaside Estates), and in 2013, he received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Creative Works.

Some of Gutfreund’s other notable works include the novels “The World a Moment Later, “When Heroes Fly,” and “Mazal Orev”(Lucky Crow).

Gutfreund passed away almost exactly three years after his first wife, Neta, died of cancer, and two months before his latest novel, “Har Haosher” (Mountain of Happiness) was due to be published.

He is survived by his wife Michal and three children.

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