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Meir Shalev, beloved Israeli novelist, dies at 74

TJI Pick
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Published: 14 April 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

In fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, Shalev was an icon of Hebrew literature.

Leading Israeli writer Meir Shalev died on Tuesday at the age of 74 following a battle with cancer.

In addition to his major success in Hebrew with Israeli audiences, his books were translated into about 20 other languages. His bestselling books include A Pigeon and a Boy, The Blue Mountain, Esau and many others.

Shalev was born in 1948 on Moshav Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley in Israel’s north to Yitzhak Shalev, a Jerusalem poet, and Batya Shalev, a teacher.

Shalev began writing novels at the age of 40, and first wrote three children’s books before he even ventured into the world of adult fiction with his 1988 book, The Blue Mountain, about pioneers in the Jezreel Valley.

The book was an immediate success with Israeli readers and turned Shalev into one of the country’s most popular contemporary authors.

His masterful use of Hebrew helped bring to life the recurring themes of his works that included biblical associations and mythic concepts, and often featured women as a source of power behind the men in their complex lives.

President Isaac Herzog lamented that the world would not be able to enjoy another one of his books, which have “changed our lives, making them richer and fuller.”

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Meir Shalev, beloved writer of fiction and complicated Israeli lives, dies at 74 (Times of Israel)

Acclaimed Israeli Novelist Meir Shalev Dies at 74 (Haaretz)

'A master of words': Israeli author Meir Shalev dies at 74 (Jerusalem Post)

Photo: Meir Shalev (Yannick Coupannec/Leemage/AFP)

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