JERUSALEM — Israeli author Amos Oz, one of the country’s pre-eminent and widely acclaimed writers, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, his family announced. He was 79.
His daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, announced her father’s death on Twitter.
Oz was known world-wide for a collection of novels, essays, and a well-received memoir. His works chronicled over half a century of life in Israel, from his childhood in Jerusalem through the country’s transformation into a modern nation. He also was an outspoken advocate of seeking peace with the Palestinians.
In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, he lamented the deep divisions in Israeli society — a prescient observation that remains true to today.
“We have not yet established the rules of the game in 50 years,” he said. “You could hardly get two Israelis to agree on the kind of Israel they want.”
Amos Oz grew up in Israel in the early years of its statehood. Now, in his first book in over a decade, the writer looks back at that time through the eyes of three characters — each at a different life stage and with a distinctive attitude toward the new state. Jeffrey Brown sits down with Oz to discuss his writing process, the “gift of literature” and prospects for a two-state solution.
Oz won numerous prizes, including the Israel Prize, the country’s top civilian recognition, and Germany’s Goethe Award. He also was a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature.
His works included “Black Box,” “In the Land of Israel,” and “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a 2002 memoir that was also adapted into a film starring Natalie Portman.
“A story of love and light and now great darkness,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter.
“We are mourning the passing of Amos Oz, a wonderful Israeli poet and novelist, a towering voice for peace,” wrote the European Union’s delegation to Israel. “May his memory be a blessing.”