grossman - AP - January 31 2011
David Grossman Photo by AP
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Tom Segev Photo by AP

Two of the finalists for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle award are books by Israeli writers David Grossman and Tom Segev. The prestigious American literary prize will be awarded March 10.

Grossman's "To the End of the Land," translated into English by Jessica Cohen, was one of five fiction finalists and one of two translated works in the fiction category, the Book Critics Circle announced earlier this month.

The other translation, "Comedy in a Minor Key," also has a Jewish theme. It was written by Hans Keilson, a German Jew who survived the war by hiding in Holland. Other fiction nominees include Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom."

Grossman's latest book, about an Israeli mother who hikes in the Galilee rather than wait at home to hear potentially bad news about the fate of her soldier son, featured prominently on many U.S. publications' lists of the year's best books.

The themes of the novel, which was published in Hebrew in 2008, echo Grossman's own life; his son Uri was killed in August 2006, during the last hours of the Second Lebanon War.

However, Grossman began writing the book in 2003, when Uri's older brother, Yonatan, was serving in the army.

"This straight-talking novel has a rare humanity to it and especially an ability to stir the readers' most human and most intense emotions," Menachem Perry, a literature professor at Tel Aviv University and the book's editor, told Haaretz in 2003.

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died in September of 2005, is the subject of one of the five finalists in the biography category - a book by Segev, a historian and Haaretz columnist, entitled "Simon Wiesenthal: The Lives And Legends" and translated by Ronnie Hope.