Yoram Kaniuk was born in Tel Aviv. His father, Moshe Kaniuk, born in Ternopil, Galicia (Eastern Europe), in Ukraine, was the first curator of Tel Aviv Museum of Art. His grandfather was a Hebrew teacher who wrote his own textbooks. Kaniuk's mother, born in Odessa, was also a teacher. Her family immigrated to Palestine in 1909, the year Tel Aviv was founded, and settled in Neve Tzedek.
At his death, he donated his body to science and eschewed a funeral (which in Israel are managed by ultra-Orthodox Jews).
Legal status as Jew
In May 2011, Kaniuk petitioned the Israeli Interior Ministry to change his religion status from "Jewish" to "no religion." He cited the fact that his child and infant grandson, because they are descended from a mixed Jewish/Christian marriage, are legally of "no religion", and his desire not to belong to a "Jewish Iran" or "what is today called the religion of Israel." In October 2011, a district court judge approved his petition, meaning that Kaniuk was then considered a Jew by nationality, but not by religion. Hundreds of other Israelis intend to do the same; a new verb, lehitkaniuk (to Kaniuk oneself) was coined to refer to this process.
Kaniuk has published 17 novels, a memoir, seven collections of short stories, two books of essays and five books for children and youth. His books have been published in 25 languages and he has won numerous literary prizes. An international conference dedicated to the works of Kaniuk was held at Cambridge University in March 2006.
Literary themes and style
'Eagles' is a war story that attacks the subject of death in Israeli culture from a unique angle. His work has been described as "existential writing that deviates from the Israeli consensus" and difficult to categorize. He is known for the dark, somewhat bizarre humor in his writing. The late writers Anthony Burgess and Kurt Vonnegut have influenced his unsettling style of political satire. He was widely rejected by the Israeli mainstream until the 21st century, where many young readers found his unique take on the sensitive Israeli social climate refreshing.
Awards and honours
Kaniuk has won numerous literary prizes, among them are the following:
- In 1980, the Ze`ev Prize for Children's literature.
- In 1997, the Prix des Droits de l'Homme (France).
- In 1998, the President's Prize.
- In 1999, the Bialik Prize for literature (co-recipient with Aharon Almog and Nurit Zarchi).
- In 2000, the Prix Mediterranee Etranger for Commander of the Exodus.
- In 2005, the Book Publishers Association's Gold Book Prize.
- In 2006, the Newman Prize.
- In 2011, the Sapir Prize for Literature for 1948.
- The Acrophile (1960)
- Himmo, King of Jerusalem (1968)
- Adam Resurrected (novel, 1971)
- Rockinghorse (1977) ISBN 0-06-012245-5
- The Story of Aunt Shlomzion the Great (1978) ISBN 0-06-012259-5
- Confessions of a Good Arab: a Novel (1984) ISBN 0-8076-1210-3
- His Daughter (1987) ISBN 0-8076-1215-4
- Commander of the Exodus (1999) ISBN 0-8021-1664-7
- The House Where Cockroaches Live to a Ripe Old Age (2001) ISBN 81-7655-041-8
- The Last Jew (novel, 2006) ISBN 0-8021-1811-9
- Eagles (novella)
- Villany (novella)
- Between Life and Death (novel)
- 1948 (autobiographic novel)
- Staff writer (June 8, 2013). "Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk dies of cancer aged 83". Haaretz. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Interview with Yoram Kaniuk
- Mualem, Mazal (May 15, 2011). "Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk asks court to cancel his 'Jewish' status". Haaretz.
- Gorenberg, Gershom (October 19, 2011). "A Jew of No Religion". The American Prospect.
- Fathoming Yoram Kaniuk
- "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website".
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