Veteran Israeli writer Avraham B. Yehoshua has been awarded France’s Medicis literature prize for a translated work with his novel “The Retrospective”.
A sombre work that explores the relationship between life and art, “The Retrospective” is centred around an ageing film director who is invited to the Spanish pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela for a retrospective of his work.
As he meanders down memory lane with his former screenwriter and an actress who served as their muse, the themes of mortality, the limits of memory and the struggle of artistic creation are explored.
Yehoshua, 75, has won a string of international literary awards and has had his books translated from Hebrew into more than 30 languages.
He is well-known and popular in France, where he lived for three years in the 1960s.
“This prize is special because I am very attached to France,” he told AFP.
“In addition it is given in the Parisian quarter I lived in my youth. It was my first time outside Israel in the 1960s and my first experience of Europe.”
He said there was a spurt of creativity in Israel in music, the theatre and in cinema that was comparable to “Europe between the two wars.
“When there are political problems … threats like Iran today, it makes for a very creative atmosphere.”
The main Medicis prize, which is awarded to writers who, in the opinion of the jury, have not achieved the renown their work deserves, was awarded to Emmanuelle Pireyre, 43, for her fourth novel, “Feerie generale” (General fairytale).