Israel in Translation

Israel in Translation explores Israeli literature in English translation. From Biblical poetry to the yearning of Andalusia song, from memoirs of the founding of the State of Israel to contemporary speculative fiction, we will explore Israel’s literary countryside, cityscapes, and psychological terrain, and the lives of the people who create it.

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Israel in Translation explores Israeli literature in English translation through street names, famous literary sites, and popular music. From Biblical poetry to the yearning of Andalusia song, from memoirs of the founding of the State of Israel to contemporary speculative fiction, we will explore Israel’s literary countryside, cityscapes, and psychological terrain, and the lives of the people who create it.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-13 16:57
last episode published
2019-11-13 05:00
publication frequency
7.21 days
TLV1 Radio author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Religion & Spirituality Judaism History Literature Arts



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

“The Mermaid in the Bathtub”

Some of Marcela's favorite children’s books in Hebrew have been written by well known poets and illustrated by some of Israel’s most talented graphic artists. This episode features The Mermaid in the Bathtub, written by the poet, essayist and writer, N...

Nano Shabtai's “Corn”

For the next few weeks, we will feature work published in The Ilanot Review’s special collaborative issue with Granta Hebrew, focusing on new, up-and-coming writers. And so it is a pleasure to introduce the young writer Nano Shabtai, translated by Maya...

Ronny Someck's “The Milk Underground”

Many poems in Ronny Someck's The Milk Underground deal with being a father of girls—adolescent and teenaged, young women. They explore the fraught territory of daughter’s bodies—body as dowry, body as a locus for pleasure and for betrayal, and the poem...

Ayelet Tsabari's “Barefoot and Enlightened”

Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. She grew up in a suburb of Tel Aviv, served in the Israeli army, and travelled extensively throughout South East Asia, Europe and North America. In 1998 Ayelet moved to Vancouver, C...

Welcoming in the Ushpizin: Poems for Sukkot

We’re currently in the days of Sukkot, in which Jews everywhere dwell (or at least take their meals) in a temporary structure called a Sukkah to commemorate the forty years of wandering in the desert, and also because Sukkot is an agricultural festival...

Poems for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Rerun)

In honor of the Jewish new year - Rosh Hashanah - and the upcoming day of atonement - Yom Kippur - host Marcela reads poems on these themes by some of Israel's most exciting poets. She reads "Origin of the World" by the controversial and provocative yo...

Amichai Chasson's “Rami Levy in Talpiot”

We are now in the days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which will take place next week. This week, Marcela reads from Amichai Chasson, whose poem America gives a portrait of the everyday reference that Yom Kippur serves in everyday life. T...

Etgar Keret's “Ladder”

Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday night—it is the beginning of the Jewish new year. And to usher it in, we read an excerpt from Etgar Keret’s short story, “Ladder,” published in his brand-new English language collection, “Fly Already.” Text: Fly Already, ...

Frayed Light

Yesterday, Yonatan Berg’s first poetry collection appeared in Joanna Chen’s English translation, Frayed Light, published by the Wesleyan Poetry Series. The poems in this collection gather all of these experiences—religion, settlements and the Palestini...

“My Essay on Stereotypes”

Israeli elections are just one day shy of a week away, and now might be a good opportunity to examine the use of stereotypes to shut down important conversations that we might have, as we elect the people who will represent us. Today, Marcela reads a l...

Etgar Keret's “Fly Already”

Yesterday something wonderful happened—Etgar Keret’s newest short story collection, Fly Already, appeared in the world, in English, translated by a ridiculously talented cast of translators. This collection contains all the charm, the absurdities, the ...

Buses and Shoes

Today Marcela reads a story containing the writer Yossel Birstein’s two great loves: Buses and Shoes. Birstein was born in Poland in 1920. Having moved to Melbourne, Australia and later to Israel, he changed languages, continents, countries, towns, as ...

A Fairy Tale by Leah Goldberg

On this week's episode, Marcela excerpts from a fairy tale written by Leah Goldberg. She was a prolific Hebrew-language poet, author, playwright, literary translator, and comparative literary researcher. Her writings are considered classics of Israeli ...

The Writings of Naji Daher

Naji Daher, a writer, poet, and playwright, was born in Nazareth and lives there. He works as a creative writing teacher and writes literature reviews. He has published more than fifty books, including six novels. Daher's works have been translated int...

The Poetry of Gali-Dana Singer

Gali-Dana Singer is a bilingual poet, translator, an artist and photographer, born in St. Petersburg, who immigrated to Israel in 1988. To Think: A River, her first book of poems in Hebrew, in translation from the original Russian, appeared in 2000. Th...

Postcard from Pressburg-Bratislava: Remembering Tuvia Ruebner

On Monday, the literary world lost one of its bright lights with the passing of Tuvia Ruebner. He was 95 years old, and passed in his home on Kibbutz Merhavia, where he had lived since arrival from Nazi occupied Bratislava as a teenager in 1942. He lov...

On Childhood: The Writings of Israel Bar Kohav

Israel Bar Kohav was born in Israel, the grandchild of Russian immigrants who were among the founders of the city of Tel Aviv. His ancestors took part in what is known as the Second Aliyah, an influential, ideological wave of immigration that took plac...

The Poetry of Lali Tsipi Michaeli

Lali Tsipi Michaeli’s work attempts to capture, not just the mind at work, but also the spirit, the soul, as it becomes aware of itself as an entity both anchored in, and apart from, the body. Likewise, the body is often viewed as a physical object, on...

Adi Assis's Poetry of Social Critique and Personal Pain

The poetry of Adi Assis injects us with the distress that consumes his days and nights. His laments madden us as we find ourselves rare witness to circumstances usually hidden from view, and even more profoundly, to the hidden reaches of the poet's hea...

“My Flesh Speaks of God”

It’s July—school and university are out for the summer; it’s hot. This month is often a strange mix of the ecstatic and the supremely boring. It’s a month that does not usually receive much praise or fanfare. It’s the perfect month to focus on poetry—t...

The Poetry of Ayat Abou Shmeiss

Ayat Abou Shmeiss is an Arab-speaker who writes in Hebrew in part because she was educated in that language, and in French, at a Christian school in Jaffa, and has been writing since she was a teen. In her second book, her subjects include an examinati...

“The Life:” The Biography of Flavius Josephus

We continue what we began in last week's episode, discussing the historian Flavius Josephus, focusing on his biography, “The Life.” In terms of his future career and authorship, Flavius Josephus could not have arrived in this world at a better time or ...

Josephus’s “Jewish Antiquities”

To mark the completion of the Shavuot holiday, this week Marcela reads from Josephus’s account of the giving of the Torah, in his volume “Jewish Antiquities.” Text: This edition of Josephus’s works was translated from the Greek original by William Whis...

The Poetry of Arab Israeli Women

Arab Israeli women are one of the most underrepresented groups of writers in Israel and the world. It’s very difficult to find such work that's been translated into English. And so today, we spotlight the poetry of three such women. I’m using Nathalie ...

Celebrating Eid Al Fitr Through Poetry

The fast of Ramadan ends next week. Here in Israel, lights are strung up all over the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko, Jaffa, and many smaller towns and villages. Festive lanterns with beautiful designs in a variety of colors throw their light around....

Nurit Zarchi's “The Plague”

Today we excerpt from the short story “The Plague” by Nurit Zarchi, translated by Yael Lotan, and found in the anthology Fifty Stories from Israel. The story is set during the time of the 14th century great plague in Jerusalem, which killed a quarter o...

Aharon Appelfeld’s “The Age of Wonders”

Today we read an excerpt from Aharon Appelfeld’s novel, The Age of Wonders, published in Israel in 1978 and translated by Dalya Bilu in 1981. A holocaust survivor himself, this novel is remarkable in that it skips over the war, and does not even use th...

Yom Hazikaron: The Gate of the Valley

Yesterday and today we commemorate Yom Hazikaron —Memorial Day— in Israel. In 1948 the poet Haim Gouri fought as a deputy company commander in the Palmach Negev Brigade and wrote a poem commemorating the fighters who accompanied the convoys and fell at...

Anne Frank: 'Young and Strong and Living Through a Big Adventure'

Before she died in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, Anne Frank said: “Despite everything, I believe that people are, at heart, really good.” In honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, host Marcela Sulak takes a fresh look at the young diarist whose words...

The Song of Songs

This week we continue exploring Robert Alter’s translation of the Bible and sacred poetry by looking at The Song of Songs, which is traditionally read on the Shabbat of the intermediate days of Passover before the morning Torah reading, or on the morni...

Robert Alter’s Bible: Like Two Worlds at Once

This week and next, during Passover, we’ll be exploring Robert Alter's translation of the beginning of Exodus, the basis for the Passover story. Next week we’ll approach the Song of Songs, which is traditionally recited during the days of Passover. Rob...

“I Am the Daughter of Lot”

Bracha Serri was born in 1942 in San’a, Yemen, and brought to Israel in a mass exodus of Jews from Yemen soon after the State was established. She often adopts the first person voice of a Yemenite woman, crushed between an oppressive patriarchal backgr...

The Poetry of Ayman Agbaria

Born in Umm Al-Fahm, Ayman Agbaria is a researcher, poet, playwright, social activist, and a senior lecturer in the department of leadership and policy in education at the University of Haifa. Several of Agbaria's poems, written in Arabic, have been tr...

“The Orange Exploded in My Hand”

Today we commemorate the life of Ella Bat Tsion, who passed away a month ago. We begin the episode with the poem, “I waited with Endless Patience,” translated by Lisa Katz. It comes from her last book, After, which was published in 2000. Text: Ella Bat...

King Ahasuerus and the Persian Court

On this Purim, we turn to Robert Alter’s excellent new translation, Strong as Death Is Love: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel. Robert Alter writes that the Book of Esther, unlike any other book of the Bible, seems to have been written...

Shani Boianjiu’s “The People of Forever Are Not Afraid”

This week we feature an excerpt from Shani Boianjiu’s novel, “The People of Forever Are Not Afraid,” published in 2012 in English. The novel is told in a series of vignettes narrated by three young Israeli women – Lea, Avishag and Yael – following thei...

Israeli Love Poetry in Translation

In this week’s episode, we will consider Israeli Love poetry through the lens of Barbara Goldberg’s new book, Transformation: The Poetry of Translation, which has just come out this year, after winning the Valentin Krustev Award for Translation. Goldbe...

Rana Werbin Introduces Us to the Genre “Auto-Reality”

This week’s episode introduces a genre called “Auto-reality,” a term coined by Rana Werbin to describe her first book, Life Is Good. This book is a collection of excerpts from the author’s real-life journal, which she disassembled and reorganized to cr...

Aharon Appelfeld: The Ticho House Café Interview

Aharon Appelfeld passed away just over a year ago. He was one of Israel’s most well known authors abroad, and one of the generation that came of age around the same time as the founding of the State of Israel. Appelfeld would say that in order to be a ...

Select Poems from The Ilanot Review, Part 2

On this episode, we continue our focus on the new “Crisis” issue of The Ilanot Review, which came out this month, and which was edited by guest editor Adriana X. Jacobs, and our very own Marcela Shulak. Marcela features some of her favorite poems, whic...

Select Poems from The Ilanot Review, Part 1

On this episode, Marcela features some of her favorite poems from the recent poetry issue of The Ilanot Review, which has just gone live this week. Listeners can read along—or explore other poems—at Text: “All Our Planes,” by Moshe Ben...

Golan Haji: A Note on Syrian Poetry Today

This week, the podcast widens its focus and steps beyond our boundaries for a moment to acknowledge the civil war in Syria through the Arabic writings of Golan Haji, translated by Stephen Watts. Haji is originally from the Kurdish town of Amouda, on th...

Leaving Nothing Unsaid: The Poetry of Noam Partom

This podcast is not for the faint of heart — we’re featuring the poetry of Noam Partom this week, and this poetry calls out sexual predators and chides the poet for allowing men to define her sense of worth. Partom isn’t afraid to say what is largely l...

Remembering Amos Oz, Part 2

This podcast is the second in our two-part long-good-bye to the extraordinary writer, Amos Oz, who passed away on Friday, Dec. 28. Marcela provides a long excerpt from Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land, translated by Jessica Cohen. The excerpt ...

Savoring the Poetic Artistry of Nadia Adina Rose

When Nadia Adina Rose describes her art, she might also be describing her poetry. In her artist statement section of her website, she notes the importance of memory and childhood imagination in her work: Reality is also the space of memory, which take...

Remembering Amos Oz

This episode is dedicated to Amos Oz, who passed away on Friday, Dec. 28, after a short battle of cancer at the age of 79. We’ll feature his latest book, Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land, which was published in November in Jessica Cohen’s Engl...

Where Jesus Walked, Told Through 'Arabesques'

This week we're broadcasting a timely re-run of a past episode. As Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas, we travel to the Galilee through the eyes of the novelist Anton Shammas, a native of the Galilee.  In honor of Nazareth, the childhood...

“A Very Cheerful Girl”

Hedva Harechavi is an early feminist voice in contemporary Hebrew poetry, and, as you will hear, her work often combines the language of prayer and biblical texts with contemporary daily realities. Her first book, Because He Is King, won the Rachel New...

“My Feet in Boots and My Heart in My Feet”

This podcast is dedicated to anyone who has trouble finding shoes that fit—especially boots, during the Israeli rainy season! On this episode, Marcela reads an excerpt from Raquel Chalfi’s poem German Boot, translated by Tsipi Keller. Text: German Boot...

Mendele Mokher Seforim's “What is Chanukah?”

Tonight is the fourth night of Hanukkah, and to celebrate, Marcela reads an abridgement from Mendele Mokher Serforim’s short story, “What is Chanukah?” It features two speakers, Shmuel, for whom a Hanukkah miracle occurred, and his friend Ignatz. Text:...