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Dan Tsalka

TSALKA, DAN (1936–2005), Hebrew writer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, Tsalka spent the war years in the Soviet Union and lived up to the age of ten in Siberia and in Kazakhstan; in 1946 he returned to Poland. He studied philosophy and literature and immigrated in 1957 to Israel, where he continued his studies. Later on, he spent some time in Grenoble, France. His first book, Doktor Barkel, a collection of stories, appeared in 1967. This was followed by stories and novels, including Si'aḥ ha-Beru'im ("The Dialogue of Creatures," 1967), Philip Arbes (1977), Yaldei ha-Shemesh ("Children of the Sun," 1979), Misḥak ha-Malakhim ("The Angels' Game," 1986), and others. The novel Ananim ("Clouds," 1994; German, 1997), tells the story of a 13-year-old Jewish boy, the only survivor of a pogrom in a German town, who shares his fate with a German hangman. Set against the backdrop of medieval Germany, the relationship between the survivor and the executioner becomes a metaphor for Jewish-Christian history. Steeped in European culture, Tsalka developed an ambivalent attitude to the Hebrew language, which was not his mother tongue, and often focused on figures who opposed the Israeli mainstream and the Zionist narrative. His magnum opus is the novel Elef Levavot ("A Thousand Hearts," 1991; German, 2002), a sweeping epic about Jewish life in the 20th century. Oscillating between pre-state Tel Aviv, the Oriental Samarkand, and Poland, the saga presents a wide range of characters, following an intricate baroque-like structure. Tsalka published his autobiography under the title Sefer ha-Alef Bet in 2003. He taught at the Art Department of Tel Aviv University, and was writer-in-residence at the Hebrew University. He also published essays, poetry, books for children, and drama. Among the prizes he received are the Brenner Prize and the Sapir Prize (2004). A collection of stories in English, On the Road to Aleppo, appeared in 1999. Further information concerning translation is available at the ITHL website at


D. Miron, "Immut she-Huḥmaẓ," in: Hadoar, 58:24 (1978); N. Mirsky, in: Yedioth Aharonoth (September 14, 1979); G. Moked, in: Haaretz (August 3, 1979); Y. Schwartz, "Kemo Ẓippor ba-Keluv," in: Siman Keriah, 10 (1980), 480–81; G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 5 (1998), 445–80; Y. Peuys, "Go'alei Olam al Saf Teruf," in: Devarim, 1 (1999), 44–55; Y. Sharon, in: Maariv (July 15, 2005); Sh. Lev-Ari, in: Haaretz (June 16, 2005).

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