Sapir Prize for Literature

Canelo Alvarez



Mifal Hapais is currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Sapir Prize for Literature and is excited to announce the five candidates on the 2020 shortlist.
The Sapir Prize for Literature from Mifal Hapais, founded in 2000 with the aim of encouraging Hebrew literature and the culture of reading, will be awarded this year for the 20th year.
Final Five Candidates:
Sami Berdugo, “Donkey” published by The New Library; Yosef Bar Yosef, “Father, Son, Grandmother Dina” published by The New Library; Roy Chen, “Souls” published by Keter; Guy Ad, “Vicky Victoria” published by Asia; Jacob Z. Meir, “Nehemiah” published by Yedioth Books
The five candidates on the shortlist will receive a grant of NIS 40 thousand.
The winner of the Sapir Prize for Literature will receive a grant of NIS 150 thousand; their book will be translated and published in Arabic and translated into another language of their choice.“Mifal Hapais is proud to lead the most prestigious and important enterprise in the field of literature in Israel – the “Sapphire Prize for Literature,” said CPA Avigdor Yitzhaki, Chairman of Mifal Hapais. “In such a challenging year for the Israeli cultural world, it is more important than ever to proudly lead this important institution whose entire purpose is to recognize and cherish Hebrew literature as a cornerstone of Israeli culture and to praise the important contribution of Israeli writers to society. This year we are proud to mark the award’s 20th anniversary, which was founded in 2000 and has over the years become an important and esteemed institution that receives great interest, both among the writers’ community in Israel and among the entire public.”
Mifal Hapais’ 2020 shortlist for the Sapir Prize for Literature:
Sami Berdugo, “Donkey” published by The New Library; Yosef Bar Yosef, “Father, Son, Grandmother Dina” published by The New Library; Roy Chen, “Souls” published by Keter; Guy Ad, “Vicky Victoria” published by Asia; Jacob Z. Meir, “Nehemiah” published by Yedioth Books.
Considerations of the judging committee:
Father, Son, Grandmother Dina by Yosef Bar Yosef
The three novellas bound in Yosef Bar Yosef’s book deal with the threatening presence of lacking, loss, and absence in family relationships. A father who abandons his children and finally returns, a mother anxious about the loss of her son who believes he is the Messiah, a bereaved son who finds it difficult to serve as a functioning father for his own children. The three figures at the center of the novellas are tossed back and forth in the overwrought world, bounded by the strict laws of the ultra-Orthodox community in Meah She’arim. Bar-Yosef’s autobiographical elements are translated into an accurate and sensitive description, in language that is both passionate, mysterious, and realistic, which weaves the three stories into a magical fabric and an impressive literary achievement.
Donkey by Sami Berdugo
In a virtuosic and resolutely original language, with wisdom and courage, Sami Berdugo’s “Donkey” sheds light on corners of abandonment and neglect in a way that has not been done before. Material corners and abandoned corners in consciousness and thought. The book also manages to represent the triviality of consciousness, the void, and yet its characters remain in their foreignness and thus also maintain their independence. Writing that is pure being – moment by moment, alive and sharp.
Souls by Roy Chen
Roy Chen’s book is written as a dizzying dance of Western periods and languages, myth and history, and juggles with impressive success between literary genres and combines precise and brilliant linguistic combinations. Although it depicts the incarnation of one soul over centuries and across three continents, it is ultimately rooted in the striking Israeli reality of the early twenty-first century, in an unstable building in the heart of the city of Jaffa. Chen’s plot twists distill moments of horror and loneliness, humor, and compassion, and create a world that clings to imagination and words but at the same time fades into the reality of wandering in search of a sense of home.
Vicky Victoria by Guy Ad
Vicky, a single mother from Hod Hasharon, leaves the shelter of her parents’ home for an independent life in Tel Aviv with her eight-year-old son. The house on Gottlieb Street where her rented apartment is located and the nearby home-style restaurant that serves as a refuge and shelter for some of the characters become a bustling junction of relationship textures, bringing together a variety of characters and painful and muted life stories. With a variety of original observations, empathetic and heartfelt, and with precise, succinct language, Guy establishes a captivating, very human world, in which wounded and shattered figures walk, people longing all year round for correction, kindness and perhaps even happiness.
Nehemiah by Jacob Z. Meir
“With the help of humor (and sometimes even satire), Meir leads the reader through a variety of adventures that go through the social and historical fringes of Saturnian drama. The Jewish and non-Jewish Europe of the seventeenth century presents itself as alive to the reader thanks to his extraordinary ability to describe and illustrate, relying on meticulous historical credibility on the one hand and remarkably poetic imagination on the other, with elaborate use of the music of language – the language of the beit midrash and the language of the street.”


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