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Acclaimed Israeli author Amos Oz has been named winner of the 2013 Franz Kafka Prize in Prague, Czech Republic. The prize, awarded by the Franz Kafka Society, is given in recognition of an author’s entire body of work and honors those whose “work addresses readers regardless of their origin, nationality, and culture, like the work by Franz Kafka.” Winners receive $10,000.
Born Amos Klausner, he changed his surname to “Oz”—meaning strength in Hebrew—after his mother committed suicide. In 1963, he graduated from Hebrew University after studying philosophy and Hebrew literature.
After publishing articles in his kibbutz’s newsletter and the newspaper Davar, Oz published his first book in 1965, a collection of short stories entitled Where the Jackals Howl. Since then, Oz has published 18 novels and numerous non-fiction articles and essays. His most popular works include the novels The Black Box and My Michael along with his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness. He has also published multiple works of non-fiction on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His latest novel, Between Friends, was published in English earlier this year.
The Kafka Prize was first awarded in 2001 and has been awarded annually since. It is seen as an indicator for future Nobel Prize winners: the 2004 and 2005 Kafka Prize laureates, Elfriede Jelinek and Harold Pinter, went on to win the Nobel later those same years. Other past winners of the Kafka Prize include Philip Roth, Haruki Murakami, and John Banville, all of whom are considered perennial candidates for the Nobel.
Oz, whose other awards include the Goethe Prize and the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature, has been a possible Nobel Prize contender before, even being the favored candidate back in 2009. Could the Franz Kafka Prize have given Oz the stepping-stone he needs to finally win the Nobel?
To date, only one Israeli has been awarded the Nobel Prize: novelist S.Y. Agnon, who won it in 1966 in a joint award with Jewish German poet and playwright Nelly Sachs. Other notable Jewish Nobel Prize laureates include Saul Bellow, Imre Kertesz, and I.B. Singer. Could Oz, like Jelinek and Pinter, win the award in the same year he won the Kafka Prize? The Nobel Prize in Literature is slated to be announced early in October.
Oz is already expecting an exciting October, though. The Franz Kafka Society released a statement saying Oz has agreed to come to Prague with his wife for a ceremony in October to receive the prize.
Image credit: Blaues Sofa via Flickr