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Amos Oz, Israeli Author Whose Work Inspired Natalie Portman’s Directing Debut, Dies at 79

Portman wrote and directed 2015 Cannes entry ”A Tale of Love and Darkness“ based on Oz’s autobiographical novel

Amos Oz, the Israeli author whose acclaimed 2002 autobiographical novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness” inspired Natalie Portman’s 2015 directorial debut, died Friday. He was age 79.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Oz had been battling cancer.

The Jerusalem-born writer published more than 18 books, including “Black Box” and “In the Land of Israel.”

But he is perhaps best known for “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a fictionalized account of his boyhood during the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the Israeli state. The book recounts his mother’s battle with depression as well as his teenage years on a kibbutz.

Portman, an Oscar-winning actress also born in Jerusalem, wrote and directed a 2005 film adaptation that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She also played Fania, the character inspired by Oz’s mother.

Last month, U.S. publisher Houghton Mifflin released Oz’s essay collection “Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land,” in which he denounced the rise of zealtory in Israel and worldwide, and argued for a two-state solution to the ongoing Palestinian crisis.