HOFFMANN, Yoel << back to list
Yoel Hoffmann was born in 1937. He studied for his PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Buddhism at the University of Kyoto, Japan, and is currently a professor of Eastern Philosophy at the University of Haifa. In addition to his works of fiction, he is the author of several books on Zen Buddhism, Comparative Philosophy, and Japanese Poetry. Yoel Hoffmann has been awarded the Koret Jewish Book Award (USA), the Newman Prize of Hebrew Literature by the Bar-Ilan University and the Bialik Prize by the city of Tel Aviv.

The author resides in the Galilee.

Bibliography & Foreign sales
MOODS (Fiction) 2010

And there’s another person we wanted to talk about but whose name and appearance we have forgotten. We recall only other details. That he was at a distance of a human height from ground level. That he was near and far. That the night covered him and the day illuminated him and things like that. This is the most accurate person we remember. And therefore we miss him always and because we can’t recall his name the longing becomes more than one could say.

This person goes with us everywhere and if it weren’t for him we would have died of heartbreak. And if these things seem like foolishness to someone, that person ought to look into himself.

This person is also the protagonist of the book we are now writing (and of all the books we have ever written). If we remembered him, we wouldn’t have to write.

Rights sold to:

France, Galaade; USA, New Directions; Israel, Keter Books

Reviews

”Not everything that’s bad for your health is necessarily bad for literature, for instance – disruptions of the heartbeat. That is exactly what Yoel Hoffmann causes: you read and all of a sudden the heart skips a beat on account of a word, a sentence and a paragraph so beautiful or surprising, funny or sad. And these paragraphs rise up from the open page to inspire love in their readers. ”- Ha’aretz



CURRICULUM VITAE

Part novel and part memoir, Yoel Hoffmann’s Curriculum Vitae is the remarkable summation of the writer’s life: his early years in Palestine; school days and adolescence; two marriages; fatherhood; his immersion in Japanese Buddhism; his travels; his writing and his ever-surprising inner life. Curriculum Vitae evolves from its quiet opening into an hypnotic and astonishing meditation on growth and mortality. Funny and utterly unique, the book looks backward and inward even as its hero is propelled into the future.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; France, Galaade; Israel, Keter.

Reviews

“Not just a good writer but a great one. Hoffmann has the ability to find, in the moment-to-moment dislocation of daily existence, epiphanies of revelatory force… What he has achieved is a kind of magic.” The Chicago Tribune

“Hoffmann holds the world, decades, entire lives, sorrows and beauties all as if in a pair of cupped hands…Beautiful, humane, priceless.” American Book Review

“But the sweetest pleasure of reading his latest book comes in listening to Hoffmann create a language with which to remember the past as if felt when it was present. It is tempting to say that the hundred fragments of Curriculum Vitae are Hoffmann’s pearls – mysterious in origin, scattered, but in the end beautifully retrieved.”
Ha’aretz Book Review


THE SHUNRA AND THE SCHMETTERLING (Fiction) 2001

Shunra is Aramaic for “cat”. Schmetterling is German for “butterfly.” In Yoel Hoffman’s new book, these and numerous other creatures, cultures, and languages meet in a magical hymn to childhood. Hoffman traces his hero’s developing consciousness of the ways and wonders of the world as though he were peering through a tremendous kaleidoscope – all that was perceived, all that is remembered, is rendered in fluid fragments of color and light. With remarkable delicacy and sweep, Hoffmann captures childhood from the amazed inside out, and without the backward-looking wash of grown-up sentiment. Instead, the boy’s deadpan registration of the human comedy around him is offered up as strangely magical fact. The Shunra and the Schmetterling is fiction for lovers of poetry and poetry for lovers of fiction – a small marvel of a book, and one of the author’s finest to date.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; France, Galaade; Israel, Keter

Reviews

“A poetic little slip of a thing that holds the world, decades, entire lives, sorrows and beauties all as if in a pair of cupped hands.... Beautiful, humane, priceless.”
-Kirkus Review

THE HEART IS KATMANDU (Fiction) 2000

The book relates a love story that refuses to take shape according to autobiographical or psychological criteria. The Heart is Katmandu is a book about love between Yehoyachim whose wife left him and between Batia who left Robert.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; France, Galaade; Israel, Keter.

Reviews

“…Yoel Hoffmann’s novel is a quintessential love story. Hoffmann’s poetic prose functions like a musical accompaniment to the characters’ discovery of the miraculous in the mundane.” World Literature Today

“...Hoffmann’s stories are to be read very slowly and out loud; the smiles are not long in coming. And afterwards comes the wonder, being charmed, and falling in love.”
Ma’ariv

“...a distinct voice that can be identified in any line... a magical breaking of light created anew every time...” Ha’aretz

“I cannot understand people who do not read this book.” Kol Ha-Ir

“…a tale told in stream-of-consciousness imagery suggestive of Chagall, Blake and Van Gogh. Like them, Hoffman shows himself to be an artist of the profoundly fantastic.” Hadassah Magazine

THE CHRIST OF FISH (Fiction) 1991

The heroine is a widow who still speaks German after decades in Israel. The myriad mini-chapters offer many views of Aunt Magda - her childhood, her marriage, her nephew, her best friend Frau Stier, apple strudel, visions and dreams, two stolen handbags and a gentleman admirer.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; Germany, Rowohlt; Italy, Feltrinelli; Israel, Keter.

Reviews

“Reading Hoffmann is an unusual treat....he is sublime, his work truly seamless.” Washington Jewish Week
“The Christ of Fish takes only a sitting to read, but because it is so resilient a work of art can withstand numerous re-readings.” Jewish Exponent

“...Hoffmann has created an imaginative kaleidoscope.” Hadassah Magazine


BERNHARDT (Fiction) 1989

In a series of perfectly crystallized segments that are a cross between prose poems and cinematic clips, Yoel Hoffmann reconstructs the world of Bernhardt, a fifty-year-old widower from Berlin who has settled in Palestine. With perfect tone and rhythm, with an uncanny vision and sense of lyricism, Bernhardt himself becomes a universe containing his own history and the history of his time.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; Germany, Rowohlt; France, Galaade; Israel, Keter.

Reviews

“...Hoffmann’s hypnotic prose fuses everyday events and surreal imagery with the lyrical intensity of a Chagall painting.” Publishers Weekly

“...Yoel Hoffmann, one of Israel’s brightest and most unusual contemporary fiction writers, creates a powerful and moving novel...” World Literature Today

“Full of color and rich with a variety of eccentric heroes, in this book Israel of the 1950s becomes a stirring and exciting place.” A.B. Yehoshua

“(Bernhardt) is a further persuasive illustration of the genius of one of Israel’s finest contemporary writers.” Kirkus Review

KATSCHEN - THE BOOK OF JOSEPH (two novellas) 1988

Both novellas, Katschen, the tragic tale of a child’s experience of loss and The Book of Joseph, a chilling account of Berlin in the 1930s, are told with Hoffmann’s characteristic juxtaposition of the realistic and the fantastic.

Rights sold to: USA, New Directions; Germany, Rowohlt; France, Galaade; Italy, l’ancora del mediterraneo; Israel, Keter

Reviews

“Hoffmann is one of the most precious voices in Israel’s contemporary literature; his writing has about it the poetic, dream-like quality of an ancient myth, combined with a fierce, ‘molecular’ precision.” Amos Oz

“These two quietly stunning novellas mark the American debut of a writer of international importance.” Publishers Weekly

“...the author’s prose insures the reader an enlightening experience.” The New Yorker

“...magical realism with an unsentimental appreciation of history.” New York Newsday