Helen Zahavi (born 1966) is an English novelist and screenwriter born and educated in London. Her father was sent to Britain with the Polish Army during the Second World War and her mother's parents came from Odessa. Before becoming a writer Zahavi worked as a Russian translator, and has spent several years living in Paris.
Her first novel, Dirty Weekend (1991), caused a media storm on publication, and critical reaction was extreme and polarised. A half-page article in The Sunday Times questioning the book's morality and the author's sanity set the tone for much of the press comment that followed. The book was attacked by Salman Rushdie, defended by Naomi Wolf, and analysed at length in both the broadsheet and popular press. Despite initial media hostility, the book went on to be a bestseller in the UK and Europe.
Dirty Weekend has been translated into thirteen languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Czech and Korean. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and adapted into a film by Michael Winner, the director of Death Wish. Zahavi has a screen credit as co-writer and appeared with Winner on an edition of the Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark alongside, among others, the father of the so-called Yorkshire Ripper.
She has written three further novels, True Romance (1994) Donna and the Fatman (1998), and Brighton Boy (2013) which have been widely reviewed and translated.Dirty Weekend was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award in 1991.