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Uri Orlev

ORLEV, URI (1931– ), Israeli writer. Orlev was born in Warsaw and spent the first years of World War II in the Warsaw Ghetto. After his mother was killed by the Nazis, he and his younger brother were smuggled out of the ghetto. For a while, they lived in hiding and in 1943 were sent to Bergen-Belsen where they were liberated by American soldiers. When he finally came to Israel, Orlev lived for a while in a kibbutz, before he was reunited in 1954 with his father, who had been captured on the Russian front. Until 1976, Orlev wrote prose for adults. Ḥayalei Oferet (1956; The Lead Soldiers, 1979) is an autobiographical novel, telling the story of Yorik and his younger brother against the backdrop of the Holocaust in Warsaw. Orlev's worldwide reputation rests, however, on his books for young readers, and he is one of the first authors who confronted the Holocaust in books for children, avoiding sentimentality and kitsch and always maintaining high literary quality (for instance, The Island on Bird Street, 1981; English translation, 1984; Run, Boy, Run, 2001; English translation, 2003). Aḥ Boger ("Big Brother," 1983) is the story of ten-year-old Yossi whose father is killed in the war, while Shirat ha-Livyatanim (1997; "The Song of the Whales," French translation 2003) recounts the special bond between a grandfather and his grandson. Author of novels and stories for children, which have been translated into many languages, Orlev received the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award (1996). In 2002, he was awarded the Zeev Prize in Israel for his life's work. Information concerning translations is available at the ITHL website at


L. Hovav, "Ḥavayat Yaldut bi-Yẓirah Otobiyografit u-vi-Yẓirah li-Yeladim," in: Sifrut Yeladim va-No'ar, 5:3–4 (1979), 26–31; D. Stern, "Nose ha-Shoah be-Sippurei Uri Orlev," in: Sifrut Yeladim va-No'ar, 14:3 (1988), 40–48; M. Regev, "Ke-ilu ani Ḥai be-tokh Eyzeh Sippur," in: Teḥushato shel Adam ha-Mitganev el Yalduto (2002), 279–299; R. Shichmanter, "Bekhi Medabek, be-diyyuk kemo Ẓeḥok," in: Olam Katan, 2 (2004), 169–179; D. Prior, Melekhet Maḥshevet, Ma'aseh Ḥoshev, in: Masad, 2 (2004), 62–70.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.