Castel-Bloom, Orly (1960--) By Grumberg, Karen
Born in Tel Aviv to Egyptian Jewish parents, the Hebrew author Orly Castel-Bloom studied film at the prestigious Beit-Zvi Institute and at Tel Aviv University before publishing her first collection of short stories, Lo rahok mi-merkaz ha-ir (Not Far from the City Centre) in 1987. Her stories and novels have been translated into 11 languages and have won critical acclaim in Israel and abroad. She has been awarded several domestic and international literary prizes, including the Prime Minister's Prize (1994, 2001, and 2011) and the French WIZO Prize (2005). From the beginning of her literary career, her writing excited the admiration and the ire of Israeli readers and literary critics, prompting a debate between those who considered her sparse, colloquial, and at times slangy Hebrew as fresh and true to life, and those who derided it as superficial and inadequately literary. The latter critics even coined a phrase to describe her use of language, 'ivrit raza' ('thin Hebrew'), situating her squarely against the predominantly male torchbearers of Hebrew literature and their 'rich Hebrew'. Her reputation as a leading contemporary author was established with the publication of her notorious second novel, Doli siti (Dolly City, 1992).