Home  \  Authors  \  Authors  \  Ayelet Shamir  \ 

Piano in Winter

Ayelet Shamir
It all happens at Joe's Piano Bar in a small village in the north of Israel. On a cold and stormy night in December, Joe Ochana, an aging ex-seaman, is working at the bar; with him are his pianist, a weary and frustrated man, and a young Arab kitchen worker, Fadil. A party of six-four go-getting young men and two women-stop there on their way back to Tel Aviv. It is getting late. Joe wants to close his bar and go home, but the guests insist on having a drink. Outside, it is raining hard and inside, with or without strong drinks, a quarrel breaks out, awakening the sleeping demons of Israeli society-the tension between prosperous urbanites and underprivileged periphery, Jews and Arabs, women and men. But no one suspects how this dark night will end.
Piano in Winter is an almost cinematographic drama, that skillfully builds up the tension between the varied, sharply etched characters. What emerges from Shamir's powerful writing, as it shifts from soft piano music to a fist in the stomach, is the Israeli condition-a story of men who do not give in.
By dawn the entire bar is in ruins. Fadil is rushed unconscious to hospital and the others go home. The night has come to an end, but the memory of it will remain. As does the major question in the book: could things have been different?
Piano in Winter won the Wiener Prize for Original Writing.

Built like a piece of music … This debut novel so accomplished, so well controlled, it looks like a classic … Has a place between Greek tragedy, Albert Camus and Jean Genet.

Matricule des anges                                              


Ayelet Shamir has written a rare and very powerful first novel. Harsh, slashing, without any niceties, she explores Israeli society in the grip of tensions between rich and poorer, men and women, Jews and Arabs … A modern drama with a tense melody that gets ever louder.                                                                        


I found myself helpess under the whip of [Shamir’s] language … This is an authentic Greek tragedy … The last movement of this symphony bursts out with Wagnerian force, leaving a deafening silence in its wake.


A remarkable first novel that deals with the paradoxes tearing apart Israeli society.


This interior novel shows amazing mastery and flow … It has a musical lexicon – couterpoint, chamber music, the right tone.


Piano in Winter is a very rich book ... a dramatic human encounter that exposes the participants' psychology with great skill, layer after layer, charging the conflict with painful, tragic meaning.
Author Abraham B.Yehoshua

A tough and very masculine story about urges and violence ... [It is] like a film camera moving from zoom-in to panoramic long-shot ... It creates moments of beauty ... yet also exposes [a world] behind our mediocre, sane existence, that is teeming with sinister elements.

This beautiful, disturbing book is a condensed, breathtaking drama without anything we are accustomed to expect from 'women's literature' ... Even the Hebrew is masculine: wonderful, rich, but at the same time composed and measured.

A daring and disturbing novel ... It reveals some of the darkest secrets of male intimacy and explores the anxiety and aggression that control it.

Piano in Winter
Title Piano in Winter
Author’s Last Name Shamir
Author's First Name Ayelet
Language(s) Hebrew, French
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2007
No. Pages 315 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Psanter Ba-Choref
Representation Represented by ITHL


French: Paris, Christian Bourgois, 2010
Congratulations to Barabara Harshav for the 2018 PEN Medal for Translation!
The prize is given to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of their work. Barbara Harshav has been translating works from French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish for over twenty years and has currently published over forty books of translation. Among the many Hebrew authors she has translated: Yoram Kaniuk, Agnon, Yehudit Hendel, Yehuda Amichai and many more.
The Ministry of Culture and Sport announced the names of the winners of the Arik Einstein Veterans Artists Prize.
A prize of 50,000 NIS was given to each of the 21 artists who worked and are still working to promote Israeli culture in various fields -Music, dance, theater, plastic arts, cinema and literature. In the literature category the winners were Ronny Someck, Jacob Buchan and Shlomit Cohen-Assif. Also, Anat Masiach is among the recipient of the prize for debut literary works. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Ronit Matalon, the recipient of the 2017 Brenner prize for her book 'And the Bride Closed the Door". And, congratulations to Amir ziv, the recipent of the first ever Brenner prize for debut novels.
Ronit Matalon's book tells the story of Margie, a young bride, who shuts herself up in her mother's bedroom and declares that she won’t get married. Her family gathers at the locked door, not knowing what to do. Amir Ziv tells a story that begins as an apparently routine correspondence between a prying citizen, secretly in love with his neighbor, and a conscientious municipal clerk, and developes into an uncovering of a great underlying drama.
The fourth German-Hebrew/Hebrew-German translation workshop April 29 to May 5, 2018 Beit Ben-Yehuda, Jerusalem
After workshops in Berlin, Jerusalem and Straelen, the workshop will return to Jerusalem this spring. This workshop will focus on the participants translations. These are unfinished translations that have not yet been published. These will be sent to all participants. The workshop is open to 10 participants and is intended for literary translators with experience and publications. Workshop facilitators: Anne Birkenhauer and Gadi Goldberg Prerequisites: At least one published translation Duration: Sunday, April 29, 2018 until Saturday, May 5, 2018 Location: Beit Ben-Yehuda, 28 Ein Gedi St., 93383 Jerusalem Participation fee: Participation (Accommodation and meals) is free of charge. Travel / flight expenses will be refunded. For more details and for the documents required for submitting application: Anne Birkenhauer, and Gadi Goldberg,
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is one of the 100 notable books of 2017 of the "New York Times".

Congratulations to Zeruya Shalev and Shifra Horn for receiving the 2017 Adei Wizo Prize.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award! The books on the longlist are selected by 400 libraries worldwide. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
Yitzchak Mayer's personal website goes live
English edition of Yitzchak Mayer's amazing "Silent Letter" is about to come out with Mosaic Press. Learn more about the author's incredible life story on his brand new website.
MHL - New webzine starting soon!