David Grossman

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David Grossman (2015)

David Grossman ( Hebrew דויד גרוסמן; * January 25, 1954 in Jerusalem ) is an Israeli writer and peace activist . He is the author of books for children and young people, novels and essays.


David Grossman's mother Michaella was born in the British Mandate ; his father Yitzhak emigrated in 1936 with his Zionist mother at the age of nine from Poland to the British mandate of Palestine.

Grossman studied philosophy and theater at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He then worked as a correspondent and moderator for the Israeli public radio broadcaster Kol Israel . Between 1970 and 1984 he was responsible for a popular children's program. His youth book A late duel was first broadcast here as a radio play . In 1988 he was fired from the radio station for refusing to hide the fact that the Palestinian leadership had proclaimed a state of its own .

Grossman lives in Mewasseret Zion , a suburb of Jerusalem. He is married and has three children.

Grossman has emerged as a peace activist. In 1989 he received the Mount Zion Award for his commitment to peace . He has been critical of the Middle East conflict in several books . He is one of the signatories of the Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003. In August 2006, together with Abraham B. Jehoshua and Amos Oz , he called for an immediate end to the fighting in Lebanon from Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert . A few days later, on August 12, 2006, Grossman's second son Uri fell in southern Lebanon when his tank was hit by an anti-tank missile .

Individual works

Wherever you take me

Grossman interweaves two storylines in the award-winning youth book Where You Are Leading Me . The first story tells of a 16-year-old boy named Assaf who has a summer job in the Jerusalem city council. One of his jobs is to find the owner of a dog. This dog leads him to meet various friends of the owner who tell him stories about them. Gradually an image of the owner emerges in him. The focus of the second act is also 16-year-old Tamar, the owner of the dog. It turns out that she suddenly went into hiding with her dog to help her drug addict brother, who is a talented musician and is being held captive in the home of an unscrupulous patron. At the end of the book, the protagonists of the two strands meet. Reviewers praised the imaginatively developed characters of the book and its "coherent dramaturgy ".

Lion honey

Lion honey. The myth of Samson was published in 2005. The book is an interpretation of the Samson myth from the Book of Judges, derived from the spirit of a “Chavrutah” (a kind of Jewish Bible reading group) . The title alludes to the solution of the riddle that Samson gives the Philistines: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? "( Ri 14,18  EU )

Grossman's Samson is a tragic hero, a Jewish Sisyphus ; Samson's divine chosenness is interpreted as a fateful stigma . In an empathetic, deep psychological as well as critical of the present argument with the hero of Israel, the thesis of Samson emerges as the mythical prototype of a suicide bomber . The interpretation of the myth turns into a criticism of the politics of the state of Israel, which Grossman assumes a "problematic relationship" to its own power. The demonstration of strength, answering violence with overpowering counter-violence is "clearly a 'samsonian' pattern of action".

The transfer of the myth to the current situation met with some criticism. The analogy, for example the Jüdische Allgemeine , does not do justice to the complicated Middle East conflict.

The power to correct

The volume of essays The Power to Correction contains Grossman's contributions to politics and literature. This is how he describes his fascination for the texts by Scholem Alejchem , which would have brought him closer to the lost culture of the Eastern European shtetl . The stories about Tewje, the milkman , and the other inhabitants of a small Galician town led him to an exotic country that smelled of “sourdough, vinegar, smoke”. Even as a child, his view had changed in this literary figures, however: "When I was about nine and a half years, I was in the middle of the funeral service at the memorial for the six million victims of the Shoah , insensitive midst of those hackneyed helpless ceremonies, with a Let's be clear: these six million, these murdered, these victims, these 'martyrs of the Shoah', as they were also called - these were my people. That was Mottel, Tewje, Lili and Shimek. "

The other contributions to the book include the speech at the opening of the Berlin Literature Festival 2007 and his speech at the commemoration ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Prime Minister Jitzhak Rabin in November 2006. Here he urged Ehud Olmert to approach the Palestinians despite the Hamas terrorist action. In many of Grossman's texts there is a clear pessimism: "See what has become of the young, courageous, enthusiastic state!"

A woman flees from a message

The 700-page German-language edition tells the story of Ora and her two companions, Ilan and Avram, each of whom has a son. The three get to know each other during the Six Day War in 1967 as adolescent patients in a quarantine station. Looking back, the common path through life is told primarily from Ora's point of view.

When her youngest son Ofer (whose father is Avram) volunteers for a military mission, she tries to break the logic of war: she refuses to play the role of mother and evades the feared news of death by going on a hike through the mountains of Israel for several days with Avram breaks up.

The hike leads through Israel in a double sense - on the one hand spatially, but on the other hand also through contemporary history, which starts with the Six Day War and continues through the Yomkippur War to the time of the narration. Just as signs and monuments for the state history of Israel, which was shaped by military events, can be found everywhere along the roadside of the hike, so in the life stories of Ora, Avram and Ily there are again and again "milestones" which represent the great politics, the wars and the everyday threat in the Leaving the life of the individual behind. Examples: getting to know each other during the Six Day War; the Yom Kippur War, which Avram survived only after being severely traumatized; taxiing a sick Palestinian child to an illegal hospital; Experiences during military service; the fear of bus drivers of explosives etc.

Similar to a hike, the text tries to get closer to the life of the protagonists in many turns and small steps. Detailed descriptions and observations create a psychogram of the protagonists, whose torn and discarded path of life exemplifies the history and situation of Israel (both the Jewish and the Arab population). The text ends without a clear perspective for those involved, every decision made by them leads to injuries to other participants, "happiness" is not achievable.

While the author was still working on this work, his son died in an Israeli military operation in Lebanon.

A horse comes into the bar

In 2014, Grossman published the novel A Horse Into the Bar in Israel . While the book met with mixed criticism when it was published in the author's home country, it received great praise in the German-language features section in spring 2016. The author, previously praised for his sensitivity, focuses in his work on the cynical unsympathetic Dovele Grinstein, who appears for the last time as a comedian in Netanya on his 57th birthday . His audience, including friends from their youth, stuck in their throats when he turns out to be an unstable person and reluctant comedian who makes his traumatic childhood memories and the Holocaust experiences of his family the topic of the show. Everything that torments Israel in the way of unsolved problems protrudes into the small town hall, as Martin Ebel praised in February 2016 in his criticism for Die Welt . Marie Luise Knott ( Neue Zürcher Zeitung ) discovered new tones in Come a horse into the bar and noticed that the text had been perceived as very "violent" by previous admirers of Grossman in Israel. Previous critics, on the other hand, had praised Grossman for the fact that his “language finally reflected the violence in the country”.

In 2017, the English translation of A Horse Walks Into a Bar by Jessica Cohen was awarded the Man Booker International Prize . It was the first time an Israeli author won the award.

Book editions (in German)

  • The Lamb's Smile. Roman (original title: Ḥiyyûḵ hag-gedî , translated by Judith Brüll). Hanser, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-446-14595-8 .
  • The yellow wind. The Israeli-Palestinian tragedy (original title: haz- Zeman haṣ-ṣāhov , translated by Jürgen Benz). Kindler, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-463-40102-9 .
  • "Momik, that's me too". Hanser, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-446-99041-0 (= sheet , volume 33).
  • A late duel. Carlsen, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-551-55043-3 .
  • Joram wants something. 2 stories. Carlsen, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-551-55029-8 .
  • Joram writes a letter. 2 stories. Carlsen, Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-551-55036-0 .
  • Keyword: love. Roman (Original title: ʿAyênʿērek: ahavā , translated by Judith Brüll). Hanser, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-446-14596-6 .
  • The divided Israeli. About the compulsion not to understand your neighbor. Hanser, Munich, Vienna 1992, ISBN 3-446-17064-2 .
  • The childhood inventor. Novel. Hanser, Munich 1994.
  • Zigzag kid. Novel. Hanser, Munich 1996 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • Joram and the magic hat. Good night stories. Hanser, Munich 1998.
  • You be me the knife. Novel. Hanser, Munich 1999 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • An open account. Hanser, Munich 2000.
  • Wherever you take me Novel. Hanser, Munich 2001 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • Nobody can win this war. Chronicle of an Announced Peace. Hanser, Munich 2003 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • The skin's memory. Novel. Hanser, Munich 2004 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • Lion honey. The myth of Samson. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2006 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • The power to correct. About politics and literature. Hanser, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-446-20998-5 (translated by Vera Loos and Naomi Nir-Bleimling).
  • A woman flees from a message. Novel. Translated by Anne Birkenhauer . Hanser, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-446-23397-3 .
  • The hug. With drawings by Michal Rovner , translated by Michael Krüger . Hanser, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-446-23855-8 .
  • Falling out of time. Translated by Anne Birkenhauer. Hanser, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-446-24126-8 .
  • A horse comes into the bar. Translated by Anne Birkenhauer. Hanser, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-446-25050-5 .
  • What Nina knew. Translated by Anne Birkenhauer. Hanser, Munich 2020, ISBN 978-3-446-26752-7 .



Web links

Commons : David Grossman  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The German spelling of the name fluctuates between “Grosman” (German National Library), “Grossman” (dtv, Jewish newspaper) and “Grossmann” (also dtv).
  2. Martin Doerry , Christoph Schult: Not ripe for peace. In: Der Spiegel . 33/2009.
  3. ^ A b Rachel Cooke: David Grossman: "I cannot afford the luxury of despair". In: The Observer . August 29, 2010, accessed December 8, 2013.
  4. ^ Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 25, 2002.
  5. “I belong to a 'Chavrutah'. A 'Chavrutah' is actually understood to mean two yeshiva students, but there are three of us: I, another man and a woman. A wonderful thing. We meet every week and sit together for four hours and examine a text from the Bible. We do exactly what Jews have done throughout their history. ”See web links:“ It is time for us to live our real life ”. A chavrutah is part of the yeshiva (Talmud school) as a text work for two .
  6. The story of Samson is told in chapters 13 through 16.
  7. cf. D. Grossman. Löwenhonig, p. 17: "Samson, the hero, this is how every Jewish child gets to know him from an early age." Grossman points out that bsw. the plan for Israel's nuclear armament was called "Samson's Decision". See ibid. P. 84.
  8. "Today [...] you can't get rid of the thought that Samson was in a way the first suicide bomber. And although the circumstances of his act were different from the attacks in Israel today, it is conceivable that that principle - to commit vengeance and murder of innocent people through suicide - has become anchored in people's consciousness, the principle that has been so in recent years was very perfected. ”ibid. p. 122 f.
  9. cf. ibid. p. 83; “Power is seen as a value in itself that needs to be confirmed again and again; One treads the path of violence almost automatically instead of exploring other possible reactions - and this is a clearly 'samsonian' pattern of action. "
  10. Ralf Balke: Zion's fallen superhero. In: Jüdische Allgemeine. 2006. (Review of Lion's Honey. ) (Online at: lyrikwelt.de ) ( Memento from March 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive ): “You don't have to find such analogies good, as they provide ammunition to precisely those commentators who are bringing up the complicated Middle East conflict who want to reduce unhelpful phrases from David against Goliath or similar stupid stuff. "
  11. David Grossman in the Munzinger Archive , accessed on June 15, 2017 ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  12. Martin Ebel: In a hall in Neetanja. In: The world online. February 12, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2017 .
  13. ^ Marie Luise Knott: David Grossman surprises his readers: Turning a wrong world upside down. In: NZZ online. February 16, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2017 .
  14. When the sons go to war. Review by Anja Hirsch in the FAZ on November 20, 2009.
  15. ^ David Grossman. In: Hanser Literaturverlage. Retrieved June 15, 2017 .
  16. dormitio.net . Retrieved September 11, 2013 (offline).
  17. Albo d'oro
  18. feature news , www.fr-online.de. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  19. http://www.friedenspreis-des-deutschen-buchhandels.de/sixcms/media.php/1290/2010%20Friedenspreis%20Reden.pdf .