Alona Frankel yesterday won Israel's Sapir Prize for Literature for "Girl," a memoir of a young Jewish girl in Poland at the beginning of the 1940s.
The decision was made in a 5-2 vote. At the awards ceremony yesterday, which will be broadcast today on Channel 2, the identity of the seven-judge panel that picks the prize recipient was finally revealed. Until now only the chairman's name has been publicized.
Frankel said at the ceremony that while the adults of today were raised on her children's books, she has now published the story of her own childhood, which she hadn't thought would arouse interest. She has written and illustrated more than 30 books for children.
Frankel quoted the first Hebrew teacher she had as saying in Yiddish in 1950 that this girl would never speak Hebrew. Now that girl has won the prestigious Hebrew literature prize.
"Her writing transcends all cliches and all sentimentality," the judges wrote. They noted that although her book was the only one on this year's shortlist that dealt with the Holocaust, it did not once mention the words "Holocaust" or "Nazis."
Other candidates included Alon Hilu, the author of "Death of a Monk," a homosexual romance, who spoke at the awards ceremony about the difficulty of being a full-time father, which he said is tougher than being a writer.
Yisrael Segal, who wrote an autobiographical work on jealousy among the ultra-Orthodox, was the first of the speakers to watch himself on a screen displaying comments he had made about his literary endeavors. Maya Arad, who wrote a rhyming romance, spoke about the possibility of being Israeli outside the country.
All the award nominees received NIS 25,000, and Frankel received an additional NIS 150,000. Also, 1,000 copies of each nominee's book have been sent to libraries for distribution.