Amos Oz

Amos Oz

Israel: A Personal Perspective

Acclaimed author and public intellectual, Amos Oz, addressed Brandeis audiences with his personal perspective on Israel and the art of story telling on November 15th. His visit is part of the Schusterman Center's annual program of invited artists and scholars.

Amos Oz Bio

Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. His family included scholars and teachers, some of whom were militant right-wing Zionists, who emigrated to Israel in the early 1930s from Russia and Poland. In 1954, aged 15, Amos Oz rebelled against his father's world and left Jerusalem to live and work in Kibbutz Hulda, where he also completed his secondary education. After completing his Army service in 1961, he returned to the kibbutz to work in the cotton fields. In his early twenties his first short stories were published in the leading literary quarterly Keshet, before the kibbutz assembly sent him back to Jerusalem to study philosophy and literature at the Hebrew University. With his BA degree, he returned to Kibbutz Hulda where, for twenty five years, he divided his time between writing, farming and teaching in the Kibbutz High School.

As a reserve soldier in a tank unit, Amos Oz fought on the Sinai front during the 1967 Six Day War, and on the Golan Heights in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War.

In 1969-70 Amos Oz was a visiting Fellow at St. Cross College, Oxford. In 1975, and again in 1990, he was 'Author in Residence' at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in 1984-5, together with his wife and son, he spent a year in residence at Colorado Springs College in America. In 1986 they took the difficult decision to leave the Kibbutz and make their home in Arad, where the dry desert climate is beneficial to his son's asthma. In 1997 he was a visiting professor at Princeton University, NJ and in 1998 at Oxford University, England.

Amos Oz continues to devote his time to writing, teaching (he is a full Professor and holds the Agnon Chair of Hebrew Literature at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Beer-Sheva), and actively campaigning for the Israeli Peace movement.

Since the 1967 war Amos Oz has published numerous articles and essays about the Israeli/Arab conflict, campaigning for an Israeli/Palestinian compromise to be based on mutual recognition and co-existence between Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. As one of the leading figures in the Israeli Peace movement since 1967, his articles, essays and political activities have made him a foremost figure in Israel. His speeches and articles appear in translation throughout the world.

Prizes, awards and international recognition:

  • 1986 Prix Femina - France's top literary prize for the best foreign novel of the year.
  • 1991 he was elected a full member of the Academy of the Hebrew Language.
  • 1992 German Friedenspreis, one of the most important international peace prizes, presented to him by the German President, Richard von Weizsacker.
  • 1997 French cross of the Knight of the Legion d'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac.
  • 1998 Israel Prize for literature.
  • 2005 Goethe Prize honoring his literary work and impressive moral responsibility.

Author of Where The Jackals Howl, Elsewhere Perhaps, My Michael, Unto Death, Touch The Water, Touch The Wind, The Hill of Evil Counsel, Soumchi, Under This Blazing Light, A Perfect Peace, In The Land of Israel, Black Box, The Slopes of Lebanon, To Know A Woman, Fima, Israel, Palestine And Peace, Don't Call It Night, Panther In The Basement, The Story Begins, The Same Sea.

* His fiction and non-fiction writings have been translated into more than thirty different languages.