Emet Prize Laureates

Late S. Izhar

2002 Laureates of Emet Prize

In Category: Humanities
In Field: Literature


Late S. Izhar

Jury Statement

“For his rich and varied writing that draws inspiration from all levels of the history of the Hebrew language, while creating a new and innovative style that has had a significant artistic and linguistic influence on the world of Israeli literature.”


S. Yizhar was born in 1916 to parents of the First Aliyah and Second Aliyah. He spent his childhood in Kvutzat Hulda, Tel Aviv and Rehovot. He studied at the Teachers Seminary in Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood, and worked as a teacher in Yavniel, Ben Shemen and Rehovot.

In the War of Independence he served as an intelligence officer in the Central District. In January 1949 he was elected to the first Knesset on the Mapai list, and served as a Mapai MK until the fifth Knesset. He was elected to the Sixth Knesset on the Rafi list.

He studied at Hebrew University and Harvard University, and received his PhD. He taught at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University for many years as a professor of literature.

The first story he wrote, “Ephraim Goes Back to Alfalfa,” was published in 1938. Additional stories were subsequently published, which established his status as a leading figure among young Israeli-born writers. His first collection of stories, The Wood on the Hill, was published in 1947 by Sifriyat Hapoalim. In 1948, the book was awarded the Ruppin Prize. At the end of the War of Independence the story “The Prisoner” was published, which aroused debates that are still reverberating today. The collection of stories Hirbet Hiz’ah (1949), which includes a novella of this name, also generated public controversy. In 1958, the two volumes of his large book Days of Ziklag appeared in print, bringing him the Brenner Prize a year later, for the second time. The Israel Prize was awarded to him the same year.

In the 1960s, another book appeared, Stories of a Plain. In the following years he did not publish stories, but wrote articles and books, mainly on topics of literature and education. In the 1990s he published six new books consecutively – Foretellings, Tzalhavim, Asides, By the Sea, Beautiful Malcomia and Discovering Elijah.

He has won a large number of awards and honorary doctorates for his writing.