22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Zeruya Shalev

Zeruya Shalev was born in Kinneret kibbutz in Galilee, Israel, in 1959. She took Biblical Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; after graduation, she initially worked as an editor.

»Ḥayyê ahavā« (1997; Eng. »Love Life«, 2007), the first volume of a novel trilogy, brought her international acclaim as a writer and the Golden Book Award of the Israeli Publishers’ Association and the Prize of the Prime Minister of Israel. In 2000, she published »Ba’al we-ischa« (Eng. »Husband and Wife«, 2001). »Terā« (Eng. »Thera«, 2010) followed in 2005. The three novels focus on love in our times, on passion, disappointment, and the family. In »Love Life«, the heroine falls in love with a much older man, a friend of her father. She knows that their relationship has no future, but she surrenders unreservedly to the affair and abandons all her prior ideas about life. Shalev’s story reflects a restless life in a country shaken by unrest. Maria Schrader directed a film based on »Love Life« in 2007. »Husband and Wife« is about a seemingly perfect nuclear family. However, the couple is in the throes of a marriage crisis. »Late Family« deals with the same topic. After the end of her marriage, the protagonist starts a new life. Here, as in many others of her works, Zeruya Shalev draws on her personal experience. She lives in a patchwork family with her third husband. For the author this means freedom, but also the need to be strong to keep the family together. Her latest novel, »Ke’ev« (2015; tr. Pain), also works with autobiographical material. Here, Shalev, who was severely injured by a suicide bomber in 2004, tells the story of Iris, whose encounter with the love of her youth revives the memory of a pain that long preceded the suffering she now feels since she was badly hurt when a suicide bomber blew himself up beside her. Although her former lover left her long ago, she now wants to come close to Eitan again, even though this poses a risk to the fragile life as wife and mother that she has put great effort into building out of broken fragments. As in her novel »Love Life«, Shalev uncompromisingly and grippingly describes the abysses and erotic tension of a forbidden love.

Zeruya Shalev’s most recent prizes were the WELT literature prize in 2012 and the Prix Femina Étranger in 2014. She lives and works as an independent writer in Jerusalem.