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On Writing and Politics – A Discussion with Three Authors from Israel

17. Oktober 2021
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Three Israeli writers – internationally-acclaimed author Yishai Sarid, Member of Knesset and debut novelist Emilie Moatti, and Arab-Israeli fictionist, political activist and Haaretz columnist Ode Bisharat – will be talking about the multiple relationships between politics and literature in their lives and work.  


Sarid, the son of the late Israeli senior politician Yossi Sarid, offers in his novels a daring probe into the psyche of Israeli society. His THE MEMORY MONSTER tackles the question of how to deal with memory and how knowledge and memory relate to each other. His most recent novel, VICTORIOUS, explores the price Israel is willing to pay for freedom and security, and examines how violence could affect the fate of those who participate in the causative mechanisms of its creation.  


Moatti, for years a well-known social and political activist, was extensively involved in initiatives to integrate women into the national political spectrum. In 2018 she published her debut novel, in which she portrays a remarkable heroine who escapes her life on the margins of Israeli society, and, by her choices and deeds, rejects the rules of society even at the price of her freedom. In March 2021 Moatti was elected to the Knesset on the Labor Party’s list.  


Odeh Bisharat was born in 1958 to a displaced family originally from Ma’alul, an Arab village destroyed in Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence. He has been involved in political and social activity since his youth. Among others, he was secretary general of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. In his novels he unfolds, in a wide and rich depiction, the complex life of Arabs in Israel. He tells their multi-generational story in a way that has never been told before in Israeli literature. 



How politics affects literature in Israel?  Does literature exercise a similar influence on politics? Is political literature a precarious business in a charged and conflicted society? Is it possible to devote one’s life to politics and still pursue a literary career? Does the authors respective political experience infiltrate into their creative work? In what ways? These questions and others will be discussed between the three authors.     


VICTORIOUS is a daring probe into the psyche of Israeli society by the author of THE MEMORY MONSTER, which was named a “Notable Book” by the New York Times Book Review in 2020. 


“VICTORIOUS is a bitter novel with a radical main character, and that is what makes it so fascinating. While Yishai Sarid’s previous novel, THE MEMORY MONSTER, dealt with the question of how to deal with memory and how knowledge and memory relate to each other, VICTORIOUS asks about the price a country is willing to pay for freedom and security.” FAZ 23.4.2021 


Yishai Sarid will be discussing his two recent novels, that were published to great acclaim.