Israel's Top Literary Award, Sapir Prize, Goes to Shimon Adaf

Sapir Prize coveted not only for the 150,000 shekels it carries, but for its reputation as a serious sales booster.

Israeli author Shimon Adaf was announced the winner of the 2012 Sapir Prize, for his book ''Mox Nox." The Sapir Prize is Israel's most prestigious literary award. It has been awarded since the year 2000, and was modeled on the British Man Booker Prize.

Including Adaf, nine men and three women have won the prize so far. The first winner was Haim Sabato, and after him, in order, came David Grossman, Gail Hareven, Amir Gotfreund, Dan Zelaka, Alona Frenkel, Ron Leshem, Sarah Shilo, Zvi Yanai, Yoram Kaniuk, and, last year, Haggay Linik.

The award is highly coveted among Israeli authors, not only for the 150,000 shekels it carries, but for its reputation as a serious sales booster.

Adaf expressed surprise upon being pronounced winner, saying he was sure he would not win. He apologized for not preparing a speech, and thanked his editor, his publishers, and his family.

Prior to the announcement, Neta Gurevitch, the head editor of the Yediot Books publishing house, said that the five authors shortlisted this year are an exceptionally strong bunch. "What's beautiful about this prize its continuing power of propelling books into the consensus - unlike the Booker prize, whose influence in this respect has waned somewhat over the years."

The four other contenders this year were Lea eini, Yiremi Pinkus, Sami Bardugo, and Bela Shayer.

David Bachar