Ronit Matalon, Renowned Israeli Author, Dies at 58 After Battle With Cancer

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Author Ronit Matalon, December 8, 2014
Author Ronit Matalon, December 8, 2014Credit: Iliya Malinkov

Writer Ronit Matalon died early Thursday at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital after a battle with cancer. She was 58.

Matalon served as head of Haifa University’s creative writing program. She won the Brenner Prize this year for her last novella, “And the Bride Closed the Door.” Her daughter Talya accepted the award in her name on Wednesday, where she read the speech her mother wrote.

Matalon was the daughter of Egyptian immigrants: Her father, Felix, was a social activist and her mother, Ama Matalon, worked for the Petah Tikva municipality.

Matalon started writing prose in the 1980s. She began gaining fame writing youth literature, including “A Story that Begins with a Snake’s Funeral,” which was published in the 1990s, and then was turned into a movie.

The protagonist of her last book, "And the Bride Closed the Door," is Margie, the missing heroine who refuses to leave her room on the day of her marriage and just says “No.” Her relatives and the groom, an ensemble of characters ranging from amusing to eccentric, go crazy from virtual helplessness. The book is a farcical look at contemporary Israel. “The ridiculousness and the tragic, the cruel and the stupid, the melancholy and the heartbreaking,” she told Haaretz in Hebrew last year.

In 2016, Matalon spoke with the French newspaper Le Monde in which she said Israeli lives "under an apartheid regime."

"As an intellectual, I ask myself questions," she continued. Calling the occupation a "terminally ill patient," Matalon wondered how the string of knife attacks at the time "did not happen sooner." She added, "I see that the fundamental characteristic of the Israeli society is denial. It is a prisoner of its own rhetoric on security and sacrifices."

"What is happening in Israeli society is more frightening then knife attacks. I'm afraid of losing our democratic identity," she continued.

Matalon is survived by her two children, Daniel and Talya.

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