Kenan, Amos

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KENAN, AMOS (1927– ), Hebrew writer. Kenan was born in Tel Aviv. He was a member of the anti-British military underground movement, and he became known during the 1950s as the author of the satirical column "Uzi ve-Shut" in the daily Haaretz. During the following decade he wrote a number of plays which were close in spirit and expression to the Theater of the Absurd, much in vogue in those days, and published his first novella Ba-Taḥanah ("At the Station") in 1963. Eschewing realistic narrative, Kenan's stories resist the familiar pattern of plot and character in favor of an episodic texture which evokes a particular atmosphere and communicates sharp images. Kenan, who voiced "dovish" political views soon after the War of Independence and was co-founder of the Israeli-Palestinian Council in the 1970s, vented subversive political ideas in both his fiction and essay writing. Ha-Derekhle-Ein Ḥarod (1984; The Road to Ein Harod, 1988) is a fantastic, historiosophical novel, a wild dystopia, the story of an Israeli who, having killed someone, flees for his life towards Ein Ḥarod in the Jezreel Valley. On the way he meets the Arab Mahmud, who becomes a friend on a bizarre voyage which ends with the realization that the ideas of freedom and decency are no longer to be found in that exemplary kibbutz. The collection Block 23 / Mikhtavim mi-Nes Ẓiyyonah (1996) contains two apocalyptic novellas which portray a grim picture of future Israel. "Block 23" depicts Tel Aviv after a disastrous war, with its inhabitants living in camps, overshadowed by daily executions and spreading leprosy. Satire and parody are fused with poetic, lyrical descriptions. Shoshanat Yeriḥo ("The Rose of Jericho," 1998) is a collection of essays describing landscapes and places in Ereẓ Israel, nature, sounds and flavors, while recollecting biblical episodes and confronting history and shattered dreams. Kenan, known also as painter, sculptor, and Tel Aviv bon vivant, published among others Ha-Delet ha-Keḥulah ("The Blue Door," 1972), Et Waheb be-Sufah ("Waheb in Sufah," 1988), and the poems collected under Keẓ Idan ha-Zoḥalim ("End of Reptile Era," 1999). For translation see the ithl website at


A. Zehavi, in: Yedioth Aharonoth (November 23, 1979); G. Shaked, "Namer-ha-Bayit shel Ereẓ Yisrael," in: Haaretz (March 1, 1985); A. Inbari, "Keriah le-Diyyun Sifruti be-Amos Kenan," in: Prozah, 101–102 (1988), 25–30; G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 5 (1998), 138–144; Y. Kaniuk, "Sefer im Re'aḥ," in: Yedioth Aharonoth (December 18, 1998); Y. Reshet, in: Haaretz (January 8, 1999); A. Giladi, in: Haaretz (November 21, 2003).

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]