David Grossman

Laureate Erasmus Prize 2022

Theme: Mending a torn world

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded the Erasmus Prize 2022 to the Israeli writer David Grossman. The theme of this year’s prize is ‘Mending a torn world.’ No one embodies this theme better than Grossman. In his work he seeks to understand people from within, and to regard the other with love, across borders of war and history. The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation wants to honour his craft and offer readers an opportunity to discover his work (once again): ‘as consolation, and as a guide to how to be human.’

Born in Jerusalem in 1954, David Grossman has some twenty publications to his name, ranging from novels and children’s books to collections of essays and travel books. He has demonstrated extraordinary courage in tackling uncomfortable political subjects, among them daily life in occupied territories and the Palestinian minority in Israel, as well as themes such as friendship, living with the past, and the bonds that link generations. In his writing Grossman connects the personal and the universal. He shows mourning, violence and the loss of humanity, not as specifically geographical problems, but as universal human struggles. That makes him, like Erasmus, a true humanist: Grossman reveals the nakedness and fallibility of humankind, noble and monstrous in equal measure. His forgiving way of capturing characters changes readers.

David Grossman started out as a radio presenter before rising to international prominence in 1989 with his novel See Under: Love, about the Shoah as seen through the eyes of a child. He has frequently voiced his support for peace in the Middle East. In 2006 he joined with Amos Oz in calling for an end to attacks on Lebanon, soon after which his own son was killed in action in the same war. That event became the subject of his 2011 book Falling Out of Time, which was adapted for the stage on numerous occasions. Grossman has been the recipient of various literary awards, including the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis. His 2015 novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize and received rave reviews around the world.