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Celebrated Israeli Novelist and Peace Activist Amos Oz to Give Free Public Talk at UC San Diego

Special seminar and exhibit complement the Herman Wouk Chair of Modern Judaic Studies Lecture

Amos Oz, one of Israel’s most distinguished novelists and public intellectuals, will deliver a free public talk in UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium on April 22, at 7 p.m.

Amos Oz

Oz is visiting the university as the Herman Wouk Chair of Modern Judaic Studies Lecturer, generously supported by the Price family and hosted by the Office of the Dean, UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities.

Oz, 73, is the author of 18 books and more than 400 articles and essays in Hebrew, with translations of his work into some 40 languages, including Arabic. The recipient of numerous awards for his literature and for his peace activism, Oz is also a professor of literature at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva. His autobiographical novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness” is an international bestseller and has been honored with 10 different prizes around the world. A film based on the novel is expected to begin production later this year. Most recently, he co-authored “Jews and Words” with his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger, in which they argue that what unites the Jewish people, more than blood or belief, are sacred and secular texts.

The title of Oz’s talk at UC San Diego, “Zionist Dreams and Israeli Realities,” is likely to draw avid readers of his work, as well as students and community members concerned about the peace process in the Middle East, said Amelia Glaser, associate professor of literature at UC San Diego and one of the people helping to coordinate the visit.

Oz, together with fellow Israeli writer David Grossman, is active in Peace Now (Shalom Akhshav), an Israeli organization that advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His writing has long been viewed as a potential bridge between the two communities, Glaser said.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a clash of right and right,” Oz recently told the New York Times. “Tragedies are resolved in one of two ways: The Shakespearian way or the Anton Chekhov way. In a tragedy by Shakespeare, the stage at the end is littered with dead bodies. In a tragedy by Chekhov everyone is unhappy, bitter, disillusioned and melancholy but they are alive. My colleagues in the peace movement and I are working for a Chekhovian not a Shakespearian conclusion.”

Among his many awards and honors, Oz has received the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe Prize, the French Prix Femina, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, the Primo Levi prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature, the Heinrich Heine Prize, and the Israel Prize.

In addition to giving the public lecture on April 22, Oz will be meeting with students: UC San Diego undergraduates have the opportunity to enroll in a special seminar devoted to Oz’s fiction, in preparation for the visit.

“I’m incredibly excited,” said Dore Dorzia, a third-year biology major enrolled in the seminar. “It’s great to see that UCSD is taking a greater initiative of bringing opportunities for students to learn about Israel.”

Senior Gabi Tripolsky, majoring in international studies and political science, said, “To hear first-hand from one of Israel’s most celebrated authors, Amos Oz, is truly a gift I shall cherish.”

The seminar is taught by Glaser and fellow literature faculty member Lisa Lampert-Weissig.

Lampert-Weissig, holder of UC San Diego’s Katzin Chair in Judaic Studies, is also working with the UC San Diego Library to present an exhibit, “Amos Oz: Life and Letters,” from April 17 through June 10.

The exhibit, in the west wing of Geisel Library’s main floor, will take Oz’s “A Tale of Love and Darkness” as a springing-off point to consider the author’s life and writings, Israeli literature, and Israeli/Palestinian history and politics. Specific exhibit areas include: Oz’s early life and family history; his literary influences and the writers he has influenced; his own writing and writing implements (two pens – one for fiction, one for political essays); and the development of modern Hebrew as a literary language.

“The visit is a wonderful opportunity for students to interact with one of the greatest authors of our time – and for the campus and San Diego communities to learn more about this important public intellectual,” said UC San Diego literature professor Glaser. “Oz’s thoughtful perspective on the necessity of a peace process is bound to draw community members from diverse political and social backgrounds in San Diego.”

While the lecture is free and open to the public, tickets must be reserved at http://artshumanities.ucsd.edu. A book signing will follow. For additional information or special accommodations, call 858-534-6270.


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