Having attended the naval academy in Acre as a boy, Shats commanded a swift boat on the Dead Sea before going to work for a shipping company. He is held to be an expert on maritime lore in general and the brief, checkered history of seafaring Israel in particular.
He is regarded as Israel's token postmodernist, having first come to public attention in 1990 with an anonymous short story ("Figs") that had the judges of the first Haaretz short story competition convinced that its author was a young Palestinian woman. A collection of stories ("Printed Circuits") followed. The novel "Sailing to the Sunset" received the 1997 Schweipert Prize, bestowed by Hebrew University. That novel's main character, Elad Manor, was accepted to the prestigious Mishkenot Shaananim Poetry Workshop, also in Jerusalem. In 2000 Shats was a fellow of the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, associated with Oxford University, where he began his second, still unfinished novel, "42."