Sayed Kashua
Sayed Kashua. Sick of being the "eternal Arab." Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya
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The Sapir Literary Prize jury have announced the short list for best novel of the year and the winner of the best debut work prize.

The shortlist includes "Rose of Lebanon" by Leah Aini, "Good People" by Nir Baram, "Home" by Assaf Inbari, "1948" by Yoram Kaniuk and "Second Person Singular" by Sayed Kashua, a Haaretz columnist.

Anat Einhar took the best debut work prize for "Summer Predators."

All five short-listed authors and Einhar will receive a prize of NIS 25,000 each, while the author who wins the actual Sapir Literary Prize will get NIS 150,000.

The chairman of the jury, Prof. Zeev Zachor, said yesterday that the choice had been "very difficult."

Changing emphasis from kibbutz to Tel Aviv

"The choice of books indicates a changing trends in the central themes occupying Israeli literature," he said. "The emphasis on the kibbutz, the army, wars and immigration is being replaced by an emphasis on Tel Aviv, alienation and a search for identity. One new characteristic is writing on several layers, about tension between the founding generation and the young generation of today. Writing in general is becoming thinner, with less pathos and more inclined to be discreet about its ideology."

Doleen Melnik, director of the cultural department of the state lottery, which sponsors the award, told Haaretz the Sapir Prize was helping put literature on the national agenda.

"A decade ago, the lottery expanded its activity to promote art and culture. As part of this, it established the Sapir Prize, which has since become a very meaningful achievement, and not just because of the financial award attached to it. The award managed to bring literature out of the back pages of the newspapers, and has helped to expose books and authors to a wider audience. Alongside the award we are also staging activities to encourage reading, and in the coming year we'll look into ideas concerning poetry and strengthening the Hebrew language."

The awards ceremony will take place on March 23, at the Reading 3 building at the Tel Aviv Port. It will be broadcast live on Channel 2.