Guest 2010.

Assaf Gavron [ Israel ]

Assaf Gavron was born in 1968 and grew up in Jerusalem. After studying in London and Vancouver, the son of English immigrants made a name for himself as the author of a column on fast food in a popular magazine in Jerusalem. Alongside his writing he has worked as a translator into Hebrew, including works from J. D. Salinger, Jonathan Safran Foer and Philip Roth. He is also a singer and songwriter with the Israeli band The Mouth and Foot, and was a co-creator of the computer game »Peacemaker«, which simulates the Near East conflict.

Assaf Gavron's second publication, »Min Bebet Haalmin« (2000, tr: Sex in the Cemetery), contains biting, lucid short stories about the everyday life of young Israelis living far from home, and the following novel »Moving« (2003) is a hyperactive, absurd, hectic arabesque about a Jewish removal firm in New York. When three of the hopeless removal men decide they've had enough of the drudgery and steal a truck loaded with primed slot machines intended for the Russian Mafia, the book becomes an intricate road movie which tackles »the Zionist and the American dream, as well as the difficult relationship young Israelis have to their home country and an uncertain future« (Ha’aretz). Gavron achieved notoriety with »Tanin Pigua« (2006; Engl. CrocAttack/Almost Dead, 2010), in which the fates of two men are provocatively and subtly intertwined. One is a Jew whose life is running off the rails when he becomes the macabre hero of the Israeli resistance by surviving several brutal attacks; the other is a Palestinian who is torn apart by humiliations, the pathos of deliverance, and his love for his family as he attempts to kill the elusive and seemingly invincible Israeli. The second Intifada and Gavron's experience in military service form the background against which the the suffering of both sides is unsparingly revealed. He goes so far in his last novel »Hydromania« (2008) as to portray a future in which Palestine is the dominant regional power, and Israel has been reduced to an enclave with water shortage problems. In a drought-ridden world in which access to water is controlled by a few people, Gavron weaves a gripping thriller and transfers the enmities to a problem of global dimensions: »the impending loss of a humane life, with freedom and togetherness, in the face of growing desertification and excessive mechanisation« (Qantara).

Gavron won the Israeli Geffen Award in 2009 and the German DAAD Artists-in-Berlin fellowship in 2010. The author lives in Tel Aviv.