Amoz Oz Wins Major German Literature Prize for 'Judas'

Oz and translator Mirjam Pressler to receive prize July 8 in Berlin.

Ilan Assayag

Renowned Israeli author Amos Oz was named winner of Germany's International Literature Prize on Monday for his novel "Judas," according to media reports.

The work, which explores the theme of treachery and looks at key questions of Israel's existence – including its foundation in the wake of the Holocaust, the wars it has fought since then, and its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians – tells the story of five characters, three living and two dead.

Oz, together with Mirjam Pressler, who translated the work into German, will be presented with the award on July 8 in Berlin. The duo will receive prize money of 25,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively, Deutsche Welle reported.

The judges' decision did not go without criticism. Literary critic Sigrid Löffler accused them of selecting Oz in an effort to draw international attention to the award. According to Deutschlandradio Kultur, the culture-oriented station of the German national radio service, Löffler said the decision to grant the prize to such a famous writer as Oz distorts the very purpose of the award: to draw attention to parts of the world that have received little literary attention thus far.

The cover of the German version of Judas.

The judges, however, said Oz masterfully conveys the major issues and conflicts of the Middle East in his novel, and recognized the fine nuances of Pressler's clever translation, according to the Austrian daily Der Standard.

The International Literature Prize, now in its seventh year, is presented by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) and the Elementarteilchen Foundation in Hamburg.

In March, Pressler won the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for her translation of this novel.