David Grossman

David Grossman (Hebrew: דויד גרוסמן; born January 25, 1954) is an Israeli author. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have won numerous prizes.

David Grossman
David Grossman (2015)
Born (1954-01-25) January 25, 1954
Jerusalem, Israel
Alma materThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Notable awards
SpouseMichal Grossman

He addressed the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in his 2008 novel, To the End of the Land. Since that book's publication he has written a children's book, an opera for children and several poems.[1] His 2014 book, Falling Out of Time, deals with the grief of parents in the aftermath of their children's death.[2] In 2017, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in conjunction with his frequent collaborator and translator, Jessica Cohen, for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar.[3] In 2018, he was awarded the Israel Prize for literature.

Early life

Grossman was born in Jerusalem. He is the elder of two brothers.

His mother, Michaella, was born in Mandatory Palestine; his father, Yitzhak, emigrated from Dynów in Poland with his widowed mother at the age of nine. His mother's family was Zionist and poor, his grandfather having paved roads in the Galilee and supplemented his income by buying and selling rugs. His maternal grandmother who was a manicurist left Poland after police harassments, never before having left her birthplace. Accompanying by her son and daughter, she migrated to Palestine where she worked cleaning residences in wealthy neighborhoods.

Grossman's father was a bus driver, then a librarian, and it was through him that David – "a reading child" – was able to build up an interest in literature, which would later become his career. Grossman recalled, "He gave me many things, but what he mostly gave me was Sholem Aleichem." Sholem Aleichem, who was born in Ukraine, is one of the greatest writers in Yiddish, though he is now best known as the man whose stories were the inspiration for Fiddler on the Roof.[1] At age 9, Grossman won a national competition on knowledge of the works of Sholem Aleichem, and subsequently worked as a child actor for the national radio. He continued working for Israel Broadcasting for nearly 25 years.[4]

In 1971, Grossman began his national service working in military intelligence. Although he was in the army when the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, he saw no action.[1]

Grossman studied philosophy and theater at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After university he started working in radio, where he'd once been a child actor. He eventually became an anchor on Kol Yisrael, Israel's national broadcasting service. In 1988 he was sacked for refusing to bury the news that the Palestinian leadership had declared its own state and conceded Israel's right to exist.[1]

Personal life

Grossman lives in Mevasseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He is married to Michal Grossman, a child psychologist. They had three children, Yonatan, Ruthi, and Uri. Uri was a tank-commander in the Israel Defense Forces, and was killed in action in the 2006 Lebanon War.[5] Uri's life was later celebrated in Grossman's book Falling Out of Time.

In 2015, Grossman withdrew his candidacy for the Israel Prize for Literature after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to remove two of the judging panel whom he claimed were “anti-Zionist”.[6] He was awarded the prize in 2018.[7]

Politics and activism

Grossman is an outspoken left-wing peace activist.[1] He has been described by The Economist as epitomising Israel's left-leaning cultural elite.[6]

Initially supportive of Israel's action during the 2006 Lebanon War on the grounds of self-defense, on August 10, 2006, he and fellow authors Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua held a press conference at which they strongly urged the government to agree to a ceasefire that would create the basis for a negotiated solution, saying: "We had a right to go to war. But things got complicated... I believe that there is more than one course of action available."[1]

Two days later, Grossman's 20-year-old son Uri, a Staff Sergeant in the 401st Armored Brigade, was killed in southern Lebanon when his tank was hit by an anti-tank missile shortly before the ceasefire came into effect.[8] Grossman explained that the death of his son did not change his opposition to Israel's policy towards the Palestinians.[1] Although Grossman had carefully avoided writing about politics, in his stories, if not his journalism, the death of his son prompted him to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in greater detail. This appeared in his 2008 book To The End of the Land.[1]

Two months after his son's death, Grossman addressed a crowd of 100,000 Israelis who had gathered to mark the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. He denounced Ehud Olmert's government for a failure of leadership and he argued that reaching out to the Palestinians was the best hope for progress in the region:

Of course I am grieving, but my pain is greater than my anger. I am in pain for this country and for what you [Olmert] and your friends are doing to it.[1]

About his personal link to the war, Grossman said:

There were people who stereotyped me, who considered me this naive leftist who would never send his own children into the army, who didn't know what life was made of. I think those people were forced to realise that you can be very critical of Israel and yet still be an integral part of it; I speak as a reservist in the Israeli army myself.[1]

In 2010 Grossman, his wife, and her family attended demonstrations against the spread of Israeli settlements. While attending weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem against Jewish settlers taking over houses in Palestinian neighbourhoods, he was assaulted by police. When asked by a reporter for The Guardian about how a renowned writer could be beaten, he replied: "I don't know if they know me at all."[1]

Awards and honors

Works translated into English


  • Duel [דו קרב / Du-krav, 1982]. London: Bloomsbury, 1998, ISBN 0-7475-4092-6
  • The Smile of the Lamb [חיוך הגדי / Hiyukh ha-gedi: roman, 1983]. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990, ISBN 0-374-26639-5
  • See Under: Love [עיין ערך: אהבה / Ayen erekh—-ahavah: roman, 1986]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989, ISBN 0-374-25731-0
  • The Book of Intimate Grammar [ספר הדקדוק הפנימי / Sefer ha-dikduk ha-penimi: roman, 1991]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994, ISBN 0-374-11547-8
  • The Zigzag Kid [יש ילדים זיג זג / Yesh yeladim zigzag, 1994]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997, ISBN 0-374-52563-3 – won two prizes in Italy: the Premio Mondello in 1996, and the Premio Grinzane Cavour in 1997.
  • Be My Knife [שתהיי לי הסכין / She-tihyi li ha-sakin, 1998]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001, ISBN 0-374-29977-3
  • Someone to Run With [מישהו לרוץ איתו / Mishehu laruts ito, 2000]. London: Bloomsbury, 2003, ISBN 0-7475-6207-5
  • Her Body Knows: two novellas [בגוף אני מבינה / Ba-guf ani mevinah: tsemed novelot, 2003]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005, ISBN 0-374-17557-8
  • To the End of the Land [אישה בורחת מבשורה / Isha Borahat MiBesora, 2008]. Jessica Cohen, trans. Knopf, 2010, ISBN 0-307-59297-9
  • Falling Out of Time. Jessica Cohen, trans. Knopf, 2014, ISBN 0-385-35013-9
  • A Horse Walks Into a Bar: A novel. [סוס אחד נכנס לְבָּר / Soos Echad Nechnas L'bar]. Jessica Cohen, trans. Knopf, 2017, ISBN 0-451-49397-4[13]
  • Life Plays With Me , 2019 , אתי החיים משחק הרבה


  • The Yellow Wind [הזמן הצהוב / Ha-Zeman ha-tsahov, 1987]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1988, ISBN 0-374-29345-7
  • Sleeping on a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel [נוכחים נפקדים / Nokhehim Nifkadim, 1992]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993, ISBN 0-374-17788-0
  • Death as a Way of Life: Israel Ten Years after Oslo [מוות כדרך חיים / Mavet ke-derech khayyim, 2003]. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, ISBN 0-374-10211-2
  • Lion’s honey : the myth of Samson [דבש אריות / Dvash arayiot, 2005]. Edinburgh; New York: Canongate, 2006, ISBN 1-84195-656-2
  • Writing in the Dark: Essays on Literature and Politics New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008, ISBN 978-0-312-42860-0


  • The Smile of the Lamb, award-winning film written and directed by Shimon Dotan, based on the Grossman novel by the same name.
  • Someone to Run With, directed by Oded Davidoff, based on the Grossman novel by the same name.[14]
  • The Book of Intimate Grammar was the basis for an award-winning film by Nir Bergman.[15]
  • The Zigzag Kid, directed by Vincent Bal, based on the Grossman novel by the same name.[16]


  1. Cooke, Rachel (August 29, 2010). "David Grossman: 'I cannot afford the luxury of despair'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  2. "David Grossman: Falling Out Of Time (Jonathan Cape)". Herald Scotland.
  3. Shea, Christopher (14 June 2017). "A Horse Walks Into a Bar' Wins Man Booker International Prize". New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  4. George Packer (27 September 2010). "The Unconsoled". The New Yorker.
  5. Grossman, David (2006-08-19). "David Grossman: Uri, my dear son". the Guardian.
  6. "Israel's artists are celebrated abroad; less so at home". The Economist. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  7. Zur, Yarden (February 12, 2018). "Author David Grossman Wins the 2018 Israel Prize for Literature". Haaretz. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  8. http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1154525864908%5B%5D
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-12-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933–2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007.
  11. Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2011 Archived 2012-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Saint Louis Literary Award – Saint Louis University". www.slu.edu.
  13. Grossman, David (2017). A Horse Walks into a Bar. ISBN 0451493974.
  14. "Someone to run with". ynet. 2006-07-18.
  15. Nozz (13 June 2012). "Hadikduk HaPnimi". IMDb.
  16. Burr, Ty (24 April 2014). "Watching the (13-year-old) detective in 'The Zigzag Kid'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
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