Perhaps we can start to examine the word fiction, which does not exist in Hebrew. The academy has invented bidayon to translate the English word, but in bookstores you won’t find my works or any other novelist’s under that title. You will find them under the title siporet, which means narrative prose. That is a bit more decent, because fiction has a ring of lying about it, the opposite of truth. In my view this is nonsense: why should James Joyce, who took the trouble of literally measuring how many steps there were between the bar and the mailbox on the street corner, or Tolstoy, who studied the minutest details of the Battle of Borodino, be regarded as fiction writers, while the most banal journalist using such clichés as “the boiling cauldron of the Middle East” be regarded as a nonfiction writer? The novelist has no political aim but is concerned with truth, not facts. As I say in one of my essays, sometimes the worst enemy of truth is fact. I’m a writer of narrative prose, siporet, but I’m not a prophet or a guide, nor am I an inventor of “fiction.
Amos Oz, on the place of the novelist in Israel