BALLAS, SHIMON


BALLAS, SHIMON
BALLAS, SHIMON (1930– ), Israeli writer. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Ballas immigrated to Israel in 1951 without any knowledge of Hebrew. Like his colleague sami michael , Ballas had been close to the Iraqi Communist Party and was not particularly interested in Zionist ideology. He began his literary career in Israel with the local Arab press and later spent four years in Paris, where he earned his Ph.D. from the Sorbonne. He is the author of a comprehensive study called "Arab Literature under the Shadow of War" (1978; French translation 1980) and taught Arab Literature at the University of Haifa. His first Hebrew novel, Ha-Ma'abarah ("The Transit Camp," 1964), is one of the first Hebrew novels to shed light on the harsh realities, tensions, and struggle for power in an immigrant settlement in Israel of the 1950s. This realistically narrated story was followed by novels and collections of stories. Among these are Ḥoref Aḥaron ("Last Winter," 1984), relating the experiences of a founding member of the Egyptian Communist Party who lives as an exile in Paris; Ve-Hu Aḥer ("And He is Different," 1991), depicting the fate of three protagonists in Iraq under a ruthless tyrant: the dictator's historian, a Jew who converted to Islam; a Communist; and an Arab-Jewish poet who later emigrates to Israel. The novel Solo (1998), set in Paris during the notorious dreyfus affair , is the story of an Egyptian-Jewish dramatist who fights for the independence of his homeland. Among his other prose works are the novels Lo bi-Mekomah ("Not in Her Place," 1994) and Tel Aviv Mizraḥ ("Tel Aviv East," 2003). The collections of stories include among others Mul ha-Ḥomah ("Facing the Wall," 1969) and Otot Setav ("Signs of Autumn," 1992). The stories in the latter collection are set – typically for Ballas – in Baghdad, Paris, and Tel Aviv: "Aya" tells of a Moslem nanny bidding farewell to the Jewish family for which she had worked; "Otot Setav" focuses on the complex identity of an old Egyptian intellectual torn between cultures. Ballas consciously abstains from Oriental exoticism and nostalgia. An English translation of "The Shoes of Tanboury" appeared in 1970. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 4 (1993), 166–87); N. Zach, in: Haaretz (May 17, 1991). Y. Orian, in: Yedioth Ahronoth (Jan. 16, 1981); E. Ben Ezer, "Through the Keyhole: S. Ballas' A Locked Room," in: Modern Hebrew Literature 7:1–2 (1981/1982), 28–30; I. Taha, "Otot Setav be-Aviv Sifruti Na'eh," in: Alei Si'aḥ, 34 (1994), 85–94; M. Yahil-Waks, "Ha-Emdah ha-Shelishit," in: Itton, 77, 92 (1987), 18–21; R. Snir, "'We Were like Those Who Dream'": Iraqi-Jewish Writers in Israel in the 1950s," in: Prooftexts, 11:2 (1991), 153–73; I. Taha, "Duality and Acceptance: The Image of the Outsider in the Literary Work of Shimon Ballas," in: Hebrew Studies, 38 (1997), 63–87; R. Snir, "Boded be-Mo'adoS. Ballas ve-Kanon ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit," In: Itton 77, 218 (1998), 16–21; H. Hever, "Kinun Zehut bein Sippur le-Mapah: S. Ballas ba-Sipporet ha-Yisra'elit bi-Shenot ha-Shishim," in: Ẓiyyon ve-Ẓiyyonut be-kerev Yehudei Sefarad ve-ha-Mizraḥ (2002), 561–73. (Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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