Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Linda Grant, Great Britain

Journalist, Novelist * 1951
The People on the Street. A Writer’s View of Israel

“Although I am not an Israeli, but a Diaspora Jew, I think that it is the eye of the novelist, who coming from the outside, can often see what other do not … I spent a lot of time sitting in cafes, listening, drinking my cup of coffee, while the country assembled itself around me, in all its perplexing reality.”

Linda Grant was born in Liverpool, the child of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She read English at the University of York, before going to Canada to complete an MA at McMaster University, Ontario, and further postgraduate studies at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, where she lived from 1977 to 1984.

She returned to Britain in 1985 and became a journalist, first of all as a feature writer for The Guardian and then as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications, including The Observer, The Guardian, The Times, and Vogue. She was short-listed for the UK Press Gazette Feature Writer of the Year in 1996.

Her first book was Sexing the Millennium: A Political History of the Sexual Revolution (1993) and her first novel was The Cast Iron Shore (1996), which won the David Higham First Novel Award and was short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize. Her other works include Remind Me Who I am Again an account of her mothers decline into dementia, and the novels When I Lived in Modern Times (2000) which won that year’s Orange Prize for Fiction, and Still Here (2002) which was long-listed for the Booker Prize.

In her book The People on the Street. A Writer’s View of Israel (2006) Grant attempts to portray the thoughts and attitudes of ordinary Israelis. In 2003 she travels to Tel Aviv, with the intention of writing a novel.  Instead her visit becomes an opportunity for a systematic and in-depth exploration of Jewish identity and its relationship with the state of Israel. She closely observes this troubled land that is determined to defend its existence and that is ensnared in a conflict that seems to promise tragic consequences rather than peaceful prospects.

Grant is a member of the advisory panel for the MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University. She is a leading member of the Society of Authors and patron of the National Academy of Writing. Her work has been translated in many languages, including German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Turkish and Chinese.

Linda Grant lives in London.

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"How do we define reportage? We are looking for the power to transcend, to inspire, to uplift."Lung Yingtai (jury member 2005)