Meir Shalev is an Israeli author and publicist, one of the most preeminent – and popular – writers of modern Hebrew literature, whose unique and influential has greatly affected Israeli culture in recent decades. His oeuvre, which includes works for both children and adults, are saturated with love of man and nature and brings to the forefront the magic of everyday life.
Meir was born on Moshav Nahalal in 1948. He joined the IDF in 1966, taking part in battles of the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition. During his service, he was wounded in a military accident. After his discharge, he studied psychology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and began a career as a researcher, screenwriter, host, and producer on radio and television, and a contributor to Israel’s leading newspapers. His long-standing column in Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend supplement applies humor and sarcasm to the critical treatment of government policies, in particular in the areas of education and culture, nature and the environment, and religion and state.
His first published book (in 1982) was a children’s story, Michael and the Monster of Jerusalem. In the following years, he published Bible Now – a personal, modern look at diverse biblical episodes, as well as two more children’s books. His first book for adult readers, The Blue Mountain, was published in 1988 and became an immediate bestseller, and is considered one of the most-read Hebrew books in history. Meir Shalev has since published a large number of novels, essays, and children’s books, many of which have been translated into multiple languages and adapted to the stage.
His novels chronicle the experience of the settlers in the Jezreel Valley in the pre-State era. Fantasy and humor are prevalent in his fiction, which combines imaginative tales with biographical details and his family’s history, together with biblical associations and mythic references. These elements and many more are interwoven into a multi-layered narrative on the backdrop of his childhood landscapes in Jerusalem and the Galilee.
Meir Shalev’s work has been recognized with some of the most prestigious literary awards in Israel and abroad. These include the Bernstein Prize; the Brenner Prize; the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature; the Entomologist’s Society’s Award (for his insect descriptions in The Blue Mountain); the WIZO Prize in France, Italy and Israel; the Chiavari Prize (Italy); the American National Jewish Book Award; the Pratt Award for Environmental Journalism, in recognition of his contribution to the protection of nature and the environment in his literary writing and essays; and many more. He was also decorated as Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) and has received honorary doctorates from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.