- Grigory Yaakov Kanovich
One of the most prominent modern Jewish writers. He was born in a Jewish family in Jonava town on June 18, 1929. Together with his parents he fled war-stricken Lithuania and spent years in exile in Kazakhstan and the Ural Mountains. In 1945 the family returned to Vilnius. Here, in 1953, he graduated from Vilnius State University with a degree in Slavic studies. In 1948 he published his first book of poetry. The first autobiographical novella to be published in the Soviet Union in post-war years was “I am Looking at the Stars” by Grigory Kanovich (1959). The novella received positive reviews and was highly endorsed by the contemporary Russian literary critic Konstantin Paustovsky. Kanovich has written more than ten novels – a virtual epic saga – dealing with the vicissitudes of the history of Eastern European Jewry from the 19th century to the present day. His books have been translated into twelve languages, among them English, Lithuanian, German, Hebrew, French, Czech, Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, and others. More than 1.5 million copies of his books have been printed. The written works of Grigory Kanovich have earned the author a number of awards in Lithuania and Israel, including the Lithuanian Government Award. He was author of many screen scripts and the author of almost twenty stage plays. Grigory Kanovich has also translated into Russian many Lithuanian literary classics. Between 1989 and 1993 Kanovich served as Chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Since 1993 the writer has lived in Israel. He is a member of the PEN club in both Israel and Russia.
XX a. Lietuvos žydų enciklopedinis žinynas, compiled by Virgilijus Liauška, Vilnius, 2007.