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Meir Shalev

SHALEV, MEIR (1948– ), Hebrew writer. Shalev, son of poet Yitzhak *Shalev, was born in *Nahalal. He grew up in that much acclaimed agricultural cooperative and later in Jerusalem, and studied psychology at the Hebrew University. For many years he produced and hosted radio and television programs and is also known for his journalistic contribution to various newspapers. His first publications were books for children and the volume Tanakh Akhshav ("Bible Now," 1985), a personal, modern look at diverse biblical episodes. His first novel for adult readers Roman Rusi (1988; The Blue Mountain, 1991; 2001) was an outstanding success among Israeli readers and turned Shalev overnight into one of the most popular contemporary Hebrew prose-writers. The novel recounts the chronicle of pioneering settlers in the Jezreel valley. The narrative point of view is that of a grandson who is brought up on myths and legendary stories of days gone-by. Esav (1991; Esau 1993) unfolds the story of a baker's family against the backdrop of Jerusalem and the Galilee from the beginning of the 20th century up to the 1970s, highlighting the complex relations between fathers and sons and the pivotal role played by women and mothers. Be-Veito ba-Midbar (1998; "His House in the Desert," German, 2000) is the story of 52-year-old Rafael Meyer, whose development was shaped by four men and six women, including his grandmother, his aunts, and his ex-wife. Indeed, the power of women to mold and dictate the lives of men is a recurrent theme in Shalev's writing. Shalev interweaves in his rich and multi-layered narrative biblical associations with mythic materials and archetypal patterns, underscoring memory and sensual experience. Fantasy and humor are essential elements in his fiction. Other books include the novels Ke-Yamim Aḥadim (1994; As a Few Days, 1999) and Fontanella ("Fontanelle," 2002). Among Shalev's books for children are Ha-Yeled Ḥayyim ve-ha-Mifleẓet (1982; Ḥayyim and the Monster of Jerusalem, 1990), Gumot ha-Ḥen shel Zohar (Zohar's Dimples, 1987; German: 1995), Aba Ose Bushot (1988; My Father Always Embarrasses Me, 1990) and Ha-Traktor be-Argaz ha-Ḥol ("The Tractor in the Sandbox," German, 1999). His books have been translated into many languages, and information is available at the ITHL website at


H. Halkin, "Bread and Circuses," in: The Jerusalem Report (November 7, 1991); S. Shiffman, "On the Possibilty of Impossible Worlds: Meir Shalev and the Fantastic in Israeli Literature," in: Prooftexts, 13:3 (1993), 253–67; R. Brenner Feldhay, "Mother's Curse or Cursed Mother (Shalev's Esau)," in: Jewish Studies Quarterly, 4:4 (1997), 380–400; W. Zierler, "On Meir Shalev's Esau," in: Ariel, 107–8 (1998), 183–84; A. Navot, in: Maariv (April 16, 1998); G. Shaked, "Die konservative Revolution der jungen israelischen Dichter: Tendenzen der achtziger and neunziger Jahre," in: Judaica, 54:1–2 (1998), 36–55; Y. Zerubavel, "Revisiting the Pioneer Past: Continuity and Change in Hebrew Settlement Narratives," in: Hebrew Studies, 41 (2000), 209–24; L. Garfinkel, "Fontanella," in: Ma'agalei Keriah, 29 (2002), 90–96; H. Halperin, "Eleh Toledot Mishpaḥat Yofe: Ha-Mitos ha-Ereẓ Yisraeli shel 'Fontanella'," in: Moznayim, 77:1 (2003), 25–28; E. Negev, Close Encounters with Twenty Israeli Writers (2003); Y. Oren, "Post-Zionism and Anti-Zionism in Israeli Literature," in: Israel and the Post-Zionists (2003), 188–203.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.