Prague Writers´ Festival - Israel day

As part of the recent 11th Annual Writers´ Festival, a day was devoted to authors from Israel. Etgar Keret and Savyon Liebrecht are both of European descent and both currently reside in Israel.

Mr Keret is one of Israel's most popular young authors, and his movie, "Skin Deep", won an Israeli Oscar for Best Film. There have also been over 40 short films based on his stories. Ms Liebrecht published her first collection of stories "Apples from the Desert" in 1986 and has recently completed her work, "Women from a Catalogue". Radio Prague's Nicole Negowetti asked the two writers for their impressions of Prague.

Etgar Keret: It´s the second time that I´ve visited Prague. What impressed me the most was the changes occurring here over the last five years and I felt it really loses its identity and become more commercial and more cosmopolitan. For me Czechoslovakia is a very important country because many of the writers I like come from Czechoslovakia: Karel Capek, Kundera and of course Kafka, who may be my biggest influence. The strongest negative power that there is in life is fear. The strong feeling of anxiety that there is in Kafka, for me has a strong connection to the truth. There is some strong morality in his work and this morality comes from his understanding of the human spirit for what it is, for its weakness.

Savyon Liebrecht: I´m fascinated by the city. It´s my first visit here and it´s really a beautiful city. We lack this view in Israel. We have ruins and relics 2000 years old and then we have the very modern Israel. What we see here, the middle age buildings and the Habsburg Empire buildings, we can see only here.

Mr Keret and Ms Liebrecht both share a common family history- they are both children of Holocaust survivors. The two writers explained how their heritage has influenced their literature.

EK: The fact that my mother lost her entire family in the Warsaw ghetto and my father suffered in the Holocaust as well made me take responsibility for the fact that I will never take things for granted. I want to be responsible for my own decisions and not find myself under the flag of some sort of ideology that will take me to places where suddenly I open my eyes and see how far they are from the ideals I once held.

SL: My parents came from Poland and I was born in Germany. My parents came to Israel when I was two years old but I believe that something of the European colours and voices sunk somewhere inside me. Maybe this is the reason that I respond to it so excitedly.

Author: Nicole Negowetti
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