Sweeping story about loving with courage that asks us to confront our deepest held beliefs about a woman's duty to herself - and to her children. Translated by Jessica Cohen.

On a kibbutz in 2008, Gili is celebrating the 90th birthday of her grandmother Vera, the adored matriarch of a sprawling and tight-knit family. But festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Nina: the mother who abandoned Gili as a baby. Nina’s return precipitates an epic journey from Israel to the desolate island of Goli Otok, formerly part of Yugoslavia. It was here, five decades earlier, that Vera was tortured as a political prisoner. And it is here that the three women will finally come to terms with the terrible moral dilemma that Vera faced, and that permanently altered the course of their lives.

The 2022 International Booker Prize
Published by
Jonathan Cape
Publication date
David Grossman

David Grossman

About the Author

David Grossman is an Israeli author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. In 2018, he was awarded the Israel Prize for literature.
More about David Grossman
Jessica Cohen

Jessica Cohen

About the Translator

Jessica Cohen is a British-Israeli-American literary translator who often works with Israeli author David Grossman.
More about Jessica Cohen

David Grossman on More Than I Love My Life

‘In order to write this book, I spent some days in the little village called Svalbard in the far north of the globe. In the mountains surrounding the village roam thousands of polar bears. In some places one has to go with an armed escort, or with a gun. At midnight, when I started my way back from the local pub to my hotel I walked alone and without a gun. The feeling of claws tearing the skin of my back was so tangible and real that suddenly I knew for sure that I would write the book.’

Read the full interview here.

In order to write this book, I spent some days in the little village called Svalbard in the far north of the globe. In the mountains surrounding the village roam thousands of polar bears.

— David Grossman, author of More Than I Love My Life

What the judges said

More Than I Love My Life is a tender and immersive multigenerational family novel about the rewards, punishments and dysfunctions of love; about remembering, healing and belonging.’

What the critics said

Harvey Freedenberg, BookPage

‘Vera, Nina and Gili are memorable characters, each suffering in different but equally profound ways. Grossman effectively inhabits the consciousnesses of these women and doesn’t spare the reader any of their considerable emotional pain. He’s a sympathetic if unfailingly honest chronicler of their anguish. A reader doesn’t have to identify with the particulars of the women’s stories to appreciate how the consequences of fateful choices can reverberate down through the generations.’

Ranen Omer-Sherman, The Jewish Council

‘Grossman’s genius for cap­ti­vat­ing sto­ry­telling is once again on tri­umphant dis­play as he writes as affect­ing­ly about the great themes that have long stirred his imag­i­na­tion […] Cohen rewards us with a superb trans­la­tion. Read­ers may be intrigued to learn that More Than I Love My Life is based on a true sto­ry. Yet even with­out that knowl­edge, this star­tling and aching­ly ten­der sto­ry grace­ful­ly deliv­ers both his­tor­i­cal and emo­tion­al verisimil­i­tude. This inter­gen­er­a­tional nov­el about shat­tered lives and ideals, impos­si­ble loves, grief, and heal­ing is as mov­ing a sto­ry as one could hope for from Israel’s con­sum­mate nov­el­ist of trau­ma, empa­thy, and the redemp­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties of storytelling.’

Houman Barekat, The Sunday Times

‘In More Than I Love My Life he tells a sombre and affecting tale without recourse to undue melodrama or psychobabble. This delicately crafted novel, crisply translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen, is a fitting tribute to his late friend.’

Alex Preston, The Guardian

‘It is a love story, a story about a family and their myriad individual tragedies. But it is also about the way that the personal can never be wholly separated from the political, about the lingering wounds of history, about how violence seeps into all the dark corners of a life. It is, in the end, about Israel. Immaculately translated by Jessica Cohen, this is another extraordinary novel from Grossman, a book as beautiful and sad as anything you’ll read this year.’

Daphne Merkin, The New York Times

‘More Than I Love My Life, Grossman’s new novel, shows the writer at work in this characteristically expansive style, racing to stuff as much of life as possible into a single framework.’

Other nominated books by David Grossman

A Horse Walks into a Bar
Prize winner

Other nominated books by Jessica Cohen

A Horse Walks into a Bar
Prize winner