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Pnina Moed-Kass Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

real time israel novel

Born in Antwerp, Belgium; Education: Attended Hunter College, City University of New York.

Moed-Kass's contemporary novel finds a German teen working at an Israeli kibbutz where an act of politically motivated violence reveals facts about the boy's grandfather's past as a Nazi officer. (Cover photography by Stockbytel/Picturequest.)

Addresses

Agent—Deborah Harris, 9 Yael St., Jerusalem 9350, Israel.

Career

Writer and educator. Formerly on staff of Opera News magazine; worked in advertising in New York, NY; teacher of English in New York, NY.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Association of Jewish Libraries.

Honors Awards

International Reading Association Award for Best Young-Adult Short Story; Sydney Taylor Award, 2004, for Real Time.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Stevie's Tricycle, illustrated by Lorna Tomai, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Tommy's New Bed, illustrated by Turi MacCombie, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1984.

Real Time (young-adult novel), Clarion (New York, NY) 2004.

OTHER

(Editor) Leon Fine, Will the Real Israel Please Stand Up?, Pelmas/Massada (Givatayim, Israel), 1980.

Author of "Berele" series (in Hebrew), for Keter Publising (Israel), c. 1980s. Writings included in anthologies Lines of Sand: New Writing on War and Peace, Frances Lincoln; and Celebrate Cricket: Thirty Years of Stories and Art, Cricket Books, 2003.

Sidelights

Pnina Moed-Kass is a freelance writer who, while born in Belgium and educated in the United States, now lives and works in Israel. While writing in a wide variety of formats, for both adults and younger readers, Moed-Kass is most noted in the United States for her award-winning 2004 novel Real Time. In addition, she has produced a number of picture books written in both English and Hebrew, including a popular series of educational readers featuring a tiny snail named Berele that has been used by teachers of younger special-education students in Israel.

Inspired by actual events in modern Israel and taking place in Jerusalem, Real Time focuses on a terrorist attack on a city bus and examines the events both leading up to and following the tragedy. The bomber—a poor, undereducated Palestinian teen who hopes to attain martyrdom through his act—as well as the bus passengers—who have followed a variety of paths leading them to share this traumatic experience—comprise "deeply developed and painfully sympathetic" characters, according to School Library Journal reviewer Mary R. Hofmann. While a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the "complicated threads of pain, fear, memory, and despair" embodied by Moed-Kass's characters "create unique voices" representing many facets of Israeli society, Hofmann praised Real Time as "an exhausting but illuminating read." In Booklist Hazel Rochman described the author's depiction of "grief and the chaos of the bombing and its aftermath" as "unforgettable," while a Publishers Weekly contributor maintained that because of the novel's "graphic portrayal of violence and dark ironies" and Moed-Kass's "strongly political" themes, Real Time "is best suited for mature readers well-versed in Middle Eastern politics."

"No day could be more different than the seemingly ordinary Sunday that starts my novel Real Time," Moed-Kass explained to SATA. "For the characters I write about, the act of a sixteen-year-old suicide bomber will change the course of their lives. The rhythm of the book is defined by the movement of minutes and hours, not by chapters.

"In the six days of Real Time, the reader is drawn into the past and present of the many people touched by the catastrophic event…. Sameh, the young Palestinian who becomes a suicide bomber, is the pivotal figure in this drama. His Israeli employer, his mother and brothers, his girlfriend—all are part of the tragic web of life and death in Israel. The characters, Israeli and Palestinian, their lives intertwined, will be marked physically and emotionally by the shock waves of the event.

"This is not a novel that suggests or implies solutions or deals with ideology, politics, or right and wrong," the author added. "My overwhelming desire was to tell the story behind the headlines and sound bites. Its theme is the universality of the dreams and ambitions of ordinary people, wherever they are from and whatever age." As Moed-Kass explained her motivation for writing the novel to an interviewer for the Association of Jewish Libraries Web site: "There was a period when it seemed all of us were 'drowning' in these suicide bombings. Writing seemed to be my only act of release from feelings of overwhelming sadness, bitterness and incomprehension." Real Time has been published in Italy, Germany, and France in addition to Israel and the United States.

Regarding her career as a freelance writer, Moed-Kass once explained: "I've done all sorts of writing—I guess you'd call me a wordsmith. In New York I was a lyricist of rock 'n' roll songs (a member of ASCAP), did promotional material for a record company, worked for Opera News magazine, worked for an advertising agency, taught English in an inner-city school (the Bronx), and wrote comedy material.

"In Israel I've taught high-school English, written a series (in English) for educational television, translated and written catalogues for documentary film festivals, written English textbooks, advertising copy, and have also done movie dubbing. I also freelance as an editor and proofreader.

"When I'm writing at home my half-schnauzer/half-terrier lies on a comfortable old couch and keeps me company. I read and perform my stories at kindergartens and libraries and frequently speak to parents' groups about writing for children."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Real Time, p. 955.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Real Time, p. 963.

Kliatt, September, 2004, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Real Time, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, November 22, 2004, review of Real Time, p. 61.

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Mary R. Hofmann, review of Real Time, p. 169.

ONLINE

Association of Jewish Libraries Web site, http://www.ajh.org/ (April 12, 2006), interview with Moed-Kass.

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