Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wingate Jewish Book Award 2014

Delighted to be part of the judging panel for the Wingate Jewish Book Award

Shortlist has just been announced


PRESS RELEASE for immediate release




London, 26 November 2013 - The shortlist for this year's JQ-Wingate Prize has been revealed. The winner will be announced at a ceremony during Jewish Book Week at Kings Place on Wednesday, 26th February 2014.


The shortlist is as follows:


Edith Pearlman Binocular Vision (Pushkin Press)


Otto Dov Kulka Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death (Allen Lane)


Shani Boianjiu The People of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth)


Ben Marcus The Flame Alphabet (Granta)


Anouk Markovits I Am Forbidden (Hogarth)            


Yudit Kiss The Summer My Father Died (Telegram-Saqi)


Chair of the Judging panel Rachel Lasserson: "As ever, the judging panel has focused upon the quality and currency of the work, rather than the identity of the author. Strikingly, this year's shortlist is dominated by hitherto unknown female voices who offer fiction and memoir of urgent currency. The shortlist introduces the reader to new and shocking worlds: from the female underclass of the IDF to the choice-less tower of Satmar Hasidim via the wreckage of communist Europe and the family lager of Auschwitz. These singular six books attest to the infinite diversity of Jewish experience in 2013."


The JQ-Wingate Prize is awarded to a book that explores themes of Jewish concern in any of its myriad possible forms either explicitly or implicitly. Previous winners include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks, WG Sebald and Shalom Auslander.


For more information, or to contact the judges, please email Marion Cohen at See also Notes to Editors below.











BINOCULAR VISION by Edith Pearlman

Tenderly, observantly, incisively, Edith Pearlman captures life on the page like few other writers—its dilemmas, its loves, its complexity. Spanning 40 years of writing—and from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from Central America to the coast of Maine, from Jerusalem to the fictional suburb of Godolphin, Massachusetts—these astonishing stories show a writer of the most exquisitely turned prose, with a sensibility all her own: imaginative, compassionate, funny and wise.


Edith Pearlman, born in 1936, published her debut collection of stories in 1996, at age 60. Binocular Vision won The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. She has published over 250 works of short fiction in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and online publications. Her work has won three O. Henry Prizes, the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature, and a Mary McCarthy Prize, among others. In 2011, Pearlman was the recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award.



Translated by Ralph Mandel, this is a memoir of astounding literary and emotional power, exploring the permanent and indelible marks left by the Holocaust and a childhood spent in Auschwitz. As a child Otto Dov Kulka was sent first to the ghetto of Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz. As one of the few survivors he has spent much of his life studying Nazism and the Holocaust, but always as a discipline requiring the greatest dispassion and objectivity, with his personal story set to one side. He has nevertheless remained haunted by specific memories and images, thoughts he has been unable to shake off. The extraordinary result of this is Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death - a unique and powerful experiment in how one man has tried to understand his past (and our history).


Otto Dov Kulka was born in Czechoslovakia in 1933. He is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.



Lea, Avishag and Yael are school friends in a small town in northern Israel. During dull lessons they play the game Exquisite Corpse and daydream about the boys they fancy. When they hit eighteen they are conscripted into the army.

Stuck on checkpoint duty with fellow soldiers she hates, Lea relieves her boredom by creating an imaginary family life for a dishevelled Palestinian man that passes every day; Yael takes to sleeping with a boy she is training, in between breaking up and getting back together with her boyfriend at home; and Avishag's days are spent guarding the Egyptian border, catching smugglers and watching Sudanese refugees throw themselves on the barbed wire fence. 

They wait in the dust for something to happen, caught in that single, intense second before danger erupts.


Shani Boianjiu was born in 1987 in Jerusalem, and served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years. Her fiction has been published in Vice magazine, Zoetrope and the New Yorker. Shani is the youngest recipient ever of the US National Book Foundation's 5 under 35 Award. Her first novel, The People of Forever are Not Afraid longlisted for the Women's Prize. She lives in Israel.



The speech of children has mutated into a virus which is killing their parents. At first it only affects Jews – then everyone. Living quietly in the suburbs, Sam and Claire's lives are threatened when their daughter, Esther, is infected with the disease. As the contagion spreads, Sam and Claire must leave Esther behind in order to survive. What follows is a nightmarish vision of a world which is both completely alien and frighteningly familiar, as Sam presses on alone into a society whose boundaries are fragmenting. Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, The Flame Alphabet begs the question: what is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love?


Ben Marcus was born in Chicago in 1967. He holds degrees from New York University and Brown University, and is an associate professor at Columbia University, New York. He is the author of four books and a forthcoming collection of short stories, Leaving the Sea (Granta, March 2014).


I AM FORBIDDEN by Anouk Markovits

I Am Forbidden is a powerful portrayal of family, faith and history which sweeps the reader across continents and generations, from pre-war Transylvania to present-day New York, via Paris and England. Immersive, beautiful, moving, it explores in devastating detail what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law and centuries of tradition collide.


Anouk Markovits grew up in France, in an ultra-orthodox Satmar home. She attended a religious seminary in England instead of high school. She left home at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage. Her first novel, Pur Coton, written in French, was published by Gallimard.




Yudit Kiss grew up a communist in Budapest, soaking up her father's ideology unquestioningly. As her father lies dying, Yudit tries to understand the enigma surrounding his life. As she digs deeper into his tragic history, Yudit is forced to confront the contradictions and lies woven into the life of her family – and her country – through the dramatic twists of twentieth century Hungary.


Yudit Kiss moved to Switzerland in the early 1990s, where she currently lives. A researcher in economic development, she is the author of a number of articles, research papers and academic works. This is her first literary work.



The Jewish Quarterly — first published in 1953 — is the foremost Jewish literary and cultural journal in the English language.

The Wingate Prize was established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate.   It is now known as the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize. The winner receives £4,000.

The Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation is a private grant-giving institution, established over forty years ago. In addition to supporting the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize it has also organised and supported the Wingate Scholarships.




RACHEL LASSERSON is the Chair of this year's judging panel. Founder of the Anglo-Brazilian Shakespeare Forum, she directed plays and taught physical theatre in England and Brazil. In 2007 she became Editor of the Jewish Quarterly, overseeing its redesign and securing its international distribution before retiring earlier this summer. She is currently developing a think tank on women's issues.


JOSH COHEN is Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths College, London. He is the author of four books - most recently The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark (Granta, 2013) - and numerous reviews in various publications including the Journal of American Studies and the TLS. He has presented over 30 research papers in the UK, USA and Europe, and organised a number of conferences and symposia. Completing his training as a psychoanalyst in December 2009, he now maintains a private practice of around 30 hours per week alongside his academic post.


JEREMY GORDON has been Rabbi of New London Synagogue since January 2008, following ordination in 2004 and four years at St Albans Masorti Synagogue. He studied Law at Cambridge University and worked in television before studying at the Hebrew University and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he graduated with Rabbinic Ordination, a Masters in Midrash (Rabbinic Exegesis) and a number of academic awards. He regularly appears on Radio 2 's 'Pause for Thought', has published numerous articles and appeared in various documentary projects.


CATHERINE TAYLOR was until recently Publisher at the Folio Society, and in that role was instrumental in the setting up and running of the inaugural Folio Prize for global English-language fiction, as well as numerous sponsorships and partnerships, including with Edinburgh International Book Festival. She has worked in the book industry for 20 years, for companies as diverse as the British Library and Amazon.

Catherine is also a prolific literary critic and was the Guardian's monthly debut fiction columnist from 2007-2012. She has a particular interest in the short story and in literature in translation.



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