top of page
  • Talma Gotteiner

Jerusalem: The International Writers Festival 2019

Hi there,

I am happy to share with you some information regarding the 7th International Writers Festival that will take place in Jerusalem on May 12-16, 2019.

TICKETS: May be purchased through the Festival's English Website

The 7th International Writers Festival, that will take place next month, will feature young and fresh voices from all around the world, telling stories related to immigration and wandering, the life of a refugee and dealing with love, compassion, relationships and break-ups in the #metoo era. During the five days of the festival, Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem will host a variety of cultural events created especially for the festival including: literary meetings, workshops, tours, musical and singing performances and even movie screenings for the general public.

The International Writers Festival Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem, May 12-16, 2019

  • Now an annual event, in cooperation with the Jerusalem International Book Forum

  • Guest writers from USA, Syria/Canada, France, Argentina/Spain, Ukraine/Germany, Singapore/UK, Iceland, Nigeria and Israel

  • Five days of unique cultural and literary events

  • Various events in English and French

  • Presentation of 2019 Jerusalem Prize to American author Joyce Carol Oates

The international writers, most of whom are visiting Israel for the first time, include Joyce Carol Oates (USA), winner of the 2019 Jerusalem Prize for Literature; Éric Vuillard (France); AndrésNeuman (Argentina/Spain); Sjón (Iceland); Lana Lux (Ukraine/Germany); Lauren Groff (USA); Ahmad Danny Ramadan (Syria/Canada); Sharlene Teo (Singapore/UK); Ayọbámi Adébáyọ (Nigeria); and André Aciman (USA).

Jerusalem mayor Moshe Lion will present the 2019 Jerusalem Prize to American writer Joyce Carol Oates at the festival opening event that will be held at the YMCA on May 12, jointly with the Jerusalem International Book Forum. The award ceremony will be followed by a tribute to the late Amos Oz in the form of a discussion entitled “Between Friends”, with the President of the State of Israel Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin and Professor Fania Oz-Salzberger, the daughter of Amos Oz.

Joyce Carol Oates Photography: Dustin Cohen, The International Writers Festival, Jerusalem 2019

Above: Joyce Carol Oates Photography: Dustin Cohen


Among the special events taking place in Mishkenot Sha’ananim during the festival are many in English and French), including:

In English (with Hebrew subtitles):

  • The Hazards of the Writing Journey: Jerusalem Prize laureate and American writer Joyce Carol Oates in conversation (in English) with author Michal Govrin about the surprising discovery of her Jewish roots and the fruits of her observations of the human psyche and contemporary society. May 13, 18:00, Jerusalem Music Center

  • Call Me by Your Name: American author Andre Aciman will talk with Israeli writer Rana Werbin about love and passion in literature and cinema as reflected in his book Call Me by Your Name, followed by a screening of the movie based on the book. Jerusalem Cinemateque, May 13, 19:00

  • Wandering Writers: Journalist Janan Basoul will talk with Ahman Danny Ramadan (Syria/Canada), Lana Lux (Ukraine/Germany) and Itamar Orlev (Israel/Germany) about the populist discourse on immigration and refugee issues in the media and society and its reflection in literature. Djanogly Hall, May 14, 17:30

  • We Haven’t Seen It All: Award-winning Israeli author David Grossman and renowned author and poet Sjón (Iceland) will discuss with writer and translator Prof. Evan Fallenberg their new books, life and writing in a small country and their shared love of author Bruno Schulz. De Botton Auditorium, May 14, 19:00

  • Talking to Ourselves: Acclaimed Latin American writer Andres Neuman (Argentina/Spain) and Israeli writer Nir Baram will discuss their work with the editor of the literary journal Granta en Espanol Valerie Miles. Djanogly Hall, May 15, 18:30

  • Tell it to Lolita: Literature in the #metoo era. Writers Lana Lux (Ukraine/Germany), Ayọbámi Adébáyọ (Nigeria) and Emilie Moatti will talk with Dana Spector about literature in the era of #metoo and the ways in which it reveals stories hitherto silenced. Yael Garden, May 15, 19:30

Nir Baram Photography: Osnat Krasnansky The International Writers Festival, Jerusalem 2019

Above: Nir Baram Photography: Osnat Krasnansky

  • 1001 Nights in Damascus: Writer, journalist and social activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan (Syria/Canada) in conversation with Israeli journalist Oshrat Kotler about his book The Clothesline Swing in which he conveys his longing for Syria and impressions of his first visit to Israel. De Botton Auditorium, May 15, 20:30

  • Dancer in the Dark: Icelandic author and poet Sjón, nominated for an Oscar for writing the theme song for Dancer in the Dark (directed by Lars von Trier and starring Bjork) will talk with author Ophir Touche Gafla about his long-standing work with von Trier and Bjork, followed by a screening of the movie. Jerusalem Cinemateque, May 16, 20:00

  • A Little Birdie Told Me: In the closing event of the festival, the Tzipora Ensemble and Noa Menhaim host the festival’s writers for a satirical evening featuring original material in which personal stories about legendary exes and never-ending love will be revealed. Yael Garden, May 16, 20:30

In French (with Hebrew subtitles):

  • Small Moments, Big Wars. Eric Vuillard in conversation with Emmanuel Halperin about Vuillard’s book The Order of the Day. May 13, 19:00 – 20:00 De Button Auditorium

  • The Order of the Day: Eric Vuillard in conversation with Goel Pinto about his book The Order of the Day, followed by a screening of the movie Transit. Jerusalem Cinemateque, May 14, 20:00

Ayọbámi Adébáyọ Photography: Tomiwa Ajayi, The International Writers Festival, Jerusalem 2019

Above: Ayọbámi Adébáyọ Photography: Tomiwa Ajay

Unique festival events include, among others:

  • By Bread Alone: A unique literary-culinary event in which chairman of the Israeli Association for Culinary Culture David Kishke and literary scholar Professor Arieh Hirschfeld will discuss (in Hebrew) bread in the works of Amichai, Bialik and Agnon and its historical importance in the community established outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Fresh baked goods made by chef and baker Tomer Ballas will be served at the event, which will take place in the Yael Garden at Mishkenot Sha’ananim on May 13, 20:30.

  • A multi-disciplinary cultural event entitled Word Ball in which the audience is invited to wander through the YMCA and take part in a diverse range of activities based on music, discourse, performance, writing and introspection that present, explore and celebrate words. May 15, 20:00 (free).

  • Free musical events in the lobby and at the café and book stall on site

Among the guests at the Jerusalem International Book Forum: Marcus Dohle, CEO, Penguin Random House International, the world’s largest English-language publishing house; Maria Campbell, founder and president, Maria B. Campbell Associates, a scouting agency that includes Netflix among its clients; Jurgen Boss, CEP Frankfurt International Book Fair; Jane Freedman, founder and CEO The Literary Studio for book marketing; James Donett, CEO Waterstones, the British booksellers with 280 outlets in the country; Steven Robin, CEO of the veteran New York publishing house Henry Holt; and Thomas Rathnowe, CEO, Penguin Random House, Germany.

The International Writers Festival director is Director, Mishkenot Sha’ananim Moti Schwarz, and the artistic director is Liran Golod. The festival is supported by the Jerusalem Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Jerusalem Municipality, private foundations and donors.

Guest international writers:

Joyce Carol Oates (USA) – 2019 Jerusalem Prize laureate. One of the most important authors in the United States today, Oates has received many awards and written more than forty novels, short stories, and plays. Her latest work, Hazards of Time Travel, was published in 2018 by Ecco-Harper Collins.

Ahmad Danny Ramadan (Syria/Canada) – writer, journalist, and social activist. He was arrested and imprisoned in Syria because of his sexual identity. In 2014, Ramadan managed to escape to Canada, where he found his home. He has won many awards for his social activities on behalf of immigrants and LGBT rights, and has been selected as one of the 25 most influential immigrants in Canada. His book The Clothesline Swing was published in Hebrew by Tamir/Sendik.

Sjón (Iceland) – writer, poet, and playwright. Sjón is one of the most important artists in Iceland today. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages. He is an award-winning artist who won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the theme song of the film Dancer in the Dark with Björk and Lars von Trier. Sjón worked for years with Björk and her group The Sugarcubes. His next book will be published in Hebrew by Locus in April 2019.

Lana Lux (Ukraine/Germany) – a young Ukrainian writer and actress who lives in Germany. Her first book, Kukolka, deals with child prostitution in Ukraine, and has been widely praised. It will be published in Hebrew in February 2019 by Hakibbutz Hameuchad.

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria) – a young author, one of the most prominent in Nigeria, whose novel Stay with Me has been widely acclaimed throughout the world. It was listed as one of the best books of the year 2017 by The Wall Street Journal and one of the notable books of 2017 by The New York Times. To date, it has been translated into some 20 languages. Adébáyọ̀ is the editor of the Nigerian literary magazine Saraba. Stay with Me was published in Hebrew by Ahuzat Bayit.

Andrés Neuman (Argentina/Spain) – an award-winning author, poet, and translator who resides in Spain. His books have been translated into over 24 languages. He was chosen by the literary magazine Granta as one of the best young Spanish-language novelists of his generation, and his work has been defined by Roberto Bolaño as great literature. His novel Talking to Ourselves was published in Hebrew by Tesha Neshamot. Una Vez Argentina will be published in April 2019, also by Tesha Neshamot.

Lauren Groff (USA) – an award-winning American author whose books are all bestsellers. Barack Obama chose her novel Fates and Furies as the best book he read in 2015. In 2017, she was named one of the best writers of her generation by the literary magazine Granta. Her last book, the short-story collection Florida, was published in the United States in 2018. Fates and Furies was published in Hebrew by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan.

André Aciman (USA) – an American-Jewish writer who was born in Egypt and grew up in Italy and France. He holds a PhD in literature from Harvard University and teaches creative writing in New York. The film Call Me by Your Name, which was nominated for several Oscars, was based on his novel of the same name. He is currently writing the sequel of the book, which will also be adapted for film. Call Me by Your Name will be published in Hebrew in May 2019 by Kinneret Zmora-Biran.

Eric Vuillard (France) – author, screenwriter and film director, 2017 winner of the prestigious Goncourt Prize. His fascinating book, The Order of the Day, is a unique work that moves between history and literature and describes the small moments that lead to major disasters – the "backstage" of World War II, the parties, the business meetings, and the populist media intrigues that led to the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. The Order of the Day has been published in Hebrew by Hakibbutz Hameuchad.

Sharlene Teo (Singapore/UK) – a young Singaporean writer who resides in Britain. Author Ian McEwan highly praised her first novel, Ponti, which received rave reviews. Ponti will be published in April 2019 by Keter.

TICKETS: May be purchased through the Festival's English Website

See you at the festival! Talma

P.S. You can see some of my related trip posts in the strip below. Also, if you're interested in travel-related offers, you're welcome to view my 'best deals' page. Subscribers also have 'members only' benefits such as my updated events bulletin. To subscribe go here.

Disclaimer: The blog may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links, I will receive a small percentage of the profits at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting

bottom of page