David Grossman

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This article is about the Israeli author. For other people with the same name, see David Grossman (disambiguation).
David Grossman
David Grossman Bibliothèques idéales Strasbourg 4 septembre 2015.jpg
David Grossman (2015)
Born (1954-01-25) January 25, 1954 (age 63)
Jerusalem, Israel
Occupation Writer
Citizenship Israeli
Alma mater The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Notable awards
Spouse Michal Grossman
Children 3

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.

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 most recent book, Falling Out of Time, deals with the grief of parents in the aftermath of their children's death.[2]


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

His mother, Michaella, was born in Mandate Palestine; his father, Yitzhak, emigrated from 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 supplementing his income by buying and selling rugs. His maternal grandmother was a manicurist. His paternal grandmother left Poland after being harassed by police, never before having left the region where she'd been born. Along with her son and daughter, she traveled to Palestine where she became a cleaner in wealthy neighbourhoods.

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." 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.[3]

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]

Grossman lives in Mevasseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He is married to Michal Grossman, a child psychologist. They have three children, Jonathan, Ruth, and Uri. Uri was a tank-commander, killed in 2006 in Lebanon during the war between Israel and the Hizbollah.[4]

Uri's life was later celebrated in Grossman's book Falling Out of Time.

Politics and activism[edit]

David Grossman, Leipzig
Itamar Walks on Walls - Statues by Eli Shuki and Limor Olokia, based on the book by David Grossman

Grossman is an outspoken peace activist who is politically left-wing.[1]

Initially supportive of Israel's action during the 2006 Israel-Hizbollah conflict on the grounds of self-defence, 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, his 20-year-old son Uri, a staff sergeant in an armoured unit, was killed by an anti-tank missile during an IDF operation in southern Lebanon shortly before the ceasefire.[5] However, 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-Palestintian 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. About the incident Grossman said, "we were beaten by the police." When asked by a reporter for The Guardian newspaper about how a renowned writer could be beaten he replied, "I don't know if they know me at all."[1]

Works in English translation[edit]


  • 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


  • 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


  • Smile of the Lamb (novel) was the basis for an award-winning film written and directed by Shimon Dotan.
  • Someone to Run With (novel) was the basis for a film directed by Oded Davidoff.[6]
  • The Book of Intimate Grammar (novel) was the basis for an award-winning film by Nir Bergman.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]