book store (illustrative)
book store (illustrative)Reuters

Acclaimed Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina said he is honored to accept the prestigious Israeli literary award at this year’s Jerusalem International Book Fair, despite calls from anti-Israel activists to boycott the Jewish state.

“I have absolute respect for Israel and people in Israel who are critical of their own country,” said Molina.

“The worth of a prize depends on the people who have received it before you,” he told reporters. “I would like to be as good as many of them.”

Molina, 57, whose prose was shaped largely by a working class upbringing in a provincial village under the rule of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, said that he felt Israel is often misunderstood, much like his homeland Spain.

The author’s works include, “Sepharad,” ‘’In Her Absence” and “A Manuscript of Ashes,” all of which have been translated into English. His latest novel, “Noche de los Tiempos” is currently being translated.

The biennial Jerusalem International Book Fair attracts hundreds of publishers and authors from more than 30 countries displaying more than 100,000 books written in numerous languages.

Taking place at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem from February 10-15, the event awards its prestigious prize to an author whose work best expresses and promotes the idea of the "freedom of the individual in society".

Speakers at the February 10th opening event will include President Shimon Peres, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who will present Molina with the award.