Israeli author Amos Oz on Friday became the first recipient of Germany's Siegfried Lenz Prize.
"We honour Amos Oz in the spirit of Siegfried Lenz," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, adding that Oz and Lenz, who died October 8, both were "bridge builders."
Lenz had been one of the early proponents of understanding between Germans and Israelis, Steinmeier said, and played a leading role in Germany's discovery of Hebrew literature.
Oz, 75, has demonstrated for decades in the Middle East conflict the power of words and reason, Steinmeier said.
In his acceptance speech, Oz, a co-founder of the peace group Peace Now, spoke of the power of literature to overcome hatred.
The author of Black Box, To Know a Woman and Under This Blazing Light said he himself grew up with great animosity against Germany. Then as a younger man, he began to read German authors. Lenz's The German Lesson especially made him reconsider his views and help him dispense with simplistic black-and-white images, Oz said.
The prize, which is worth 50,000 euros (62,000 dollars), is awarded by the Siegfried Lenz Foundation, which was established this year. It is to be awarded biennially to international authors "whose creative works approach the spirit of Siegfried Lenz."
Lenz was born in 1926 in East Prussia (now Poland) and was known for works that addressed Germany's role in the rise of the Third Reich.
He along with his contemporaries and Nobel literature laureates Guenter Grass and Heinrich Boell were members of the literary association Gruppe 47, a group of writers that formed in the postwar period and had a significant hand in shaping Germany's reconciliation.
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