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Wingate Literary Prize

Top Israeli writers win Jewish Literary Prize

David Grossman and Amos Elon were tonight, (6 May), named winners of the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize 2004. David Grossman’s novel, Someone to Run With, won the Fiction award and The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933 by Amos Elon took the Non-Fiction prize. The two winners each receive a cheque for 4,000 and the shortlisted runners-up in each category receive 300 each.

Internationally acclaimed as a champion of peace and a lead signatory of the Israeli-Palestinian Geneva accord, David Grossman (pictured right) is considered one of Israel’s finest and most perceptive writers. Someone to Run With is set in Jerusalem, shortly before Grossman’s hopes for peace were dashed by the outbreak of a second intifada. The story follows two Israeli teenagers Assaf, a lanky errand boy, and Tamar, a runaway with eyes that saw too much and Dinka, the golden labrador that eventually brings them together. The Financial Times comments that it is an intensely gripping novel.

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933 by Amos Elon is a history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich which traces their transformation from cattle dealers and wandering peddlers to a successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, and activists. Elon tells their story of cultural assimilation through the lives of leading Jewish figures including Moses Mendelssohn, Rachel Levin, Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt. Richard Overy describes the book as a wonderful, literary panorama of Jewish cultural life.

Dannie Abse (pictured left), highly praised by the judges also received a special commendation for his exceptional body of work New and Collected Poems.

Now in their 28th year, the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prizes are the only awards in the UK to celebrate and recognise the full variety and originality of major works of Jewish interest. The prize-giving ceremony took place in the Arts Club in central London and was attended by over 75 key figures in the publishing industry, book trade and Jewish literary community.

Jonathan Freedland, Chairman of the Judges, comments:

Our two winners prove that, whatever else is going on in Israel, Israeli writers go from strength to strength. David Grossman's Someone To Run With is both a page-turner and a beautifully perceptive insight into the teenage mind - all the while exposing a new face of Jerusalem. Amos Elon's Pity of it All does what many thought impossible - it rescues German Jewry from the frozen role of victim, telling that community's story with intelligence, poignance and a searing humanity. The desire to honour Dannie Abse was instant and unanimous: his collection of poetry is the work of a master, a volume of joys that readers will go back to again and again.

The titles selected for the shortlist were:

Fiction

Title Author Publisher
New & Collected Poems Dannie Abse Hutchinson
Someone to Run With David Grossman Bloomsbury
The Liberated Bride A.B. Yehoshua Peter Halban

Non-Fiction

Title Author Publisher

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933

Amos Elon Penguin

The Goldberg Variations: From Football Hooligan to Opera Singer

Mark Glanville Flamingo

Somewhere to Hang My Hat

Stanley Price New Island

Broken Promises: Israeli Lives

Igal Sarna Atlantic Books

The Judges for this year’s prize were Jonathan Freedland (Chairman), Hephzibah Anderson, Rabbi Tony Bayfield, Philip Hensher and Susie Orbach. Background information on this year’s judging panel is attached.

The winning entries were were:

Fiction

Someone to Run With

David Grossman Bloomsbury 10.99

Someone to Run With explores the life of Israeli street kids and the anxieties of family life in a society racked by self-doubt. Grossman's most popular work to date, a bestseller hailed by the Israeli press and doveish politicians including Shimon Peres for its mixture of fairy-tale magic, emotional sensitivity, and gritty realism.

David Grossman was born in Jerusalem in 1954 and is regarded as one of Israel’s leading novelists and journalists. A key advocate of the Geneva Accord he has published two highly praised works of journalism, The Yellow Wind and Sleeping on a Wire. He continues to write regularly for The Guardian and also a number of American newspapers.

Press Contact: Colin Midson at Bloomsbury on 020 7494 6054 or colin_midson@bloomsbury.com

Non-Fiction

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933

Amos Elon Penguin 25.00

The Pity of It All is a passionate and poignant history of German Jews, tracing the journey of a people and their culture from the mid eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich. As it is usually told, the story of the Jews in Germany starts at the end, overshadowed by their tragic demise in Hitler’s Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, the acclaimed historian and social critic Amos Elon starts at the beginning, chronicling a 150-year period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.

Amos Elon is the author of eight widely praised books, including A Blood-Dimmed Tide, Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and The New York Times bestseller Israelis: Founders and Sons. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books, he divides his time between Jerusalem and Tuscany.

Press Contact: Rosie Glaisher at Penguin Press on 020 7010 3150 or rosie.glaisher@penguin.co.uk

The Judges

Jonathan Freedland (Chair) is a columnist for the Guardian. He also writes a monthly column for the Jewish Chronicle and is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's contemporary history series The Long View as well as The Talk Show on BBC FOUR television. He is the author of the acclaimed and controversial book, Bring Home the Revolution: the Case for a British Republic and in 2004 will publish Jacob's Gift - a family memoir about Jewishness, identity and belonging.

Hephzibah Anderson is deputy fiction critic for The Observer, Fiction Editor of the Daily Mail, and a visual arts writer for the Evening Standard. She sits on the editorial board of the Jewish Quarterly, and writes regularly for the Jewish Chronicle, the New Statesman and Zembla Magazine. She also reviews for BBC Radio London and BBC Radio 2.

Rabbi Tony Bayfield is Chief Executive of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain and a leading representative of progressive Jewish scholarly thought. His books include He Kissed Him and They Wept and Dialogue With a Difference.

Philip Hensher is a renowned novelist and critic. His novels include Kitchen Venom, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Pleasured, and The Mulberry Empire. He is a regular broadcaster and contributes reviews and articles to various newspapers and journals including The Spectator, the Mail on Sunday and The Independent. He is a member of the Council of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2003 he was nominated by Granta magazine as one of twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'.

Susie Orbach is a psychoanalyst and writer. In 1976 she co-founded the Women's Therapy centre in London and in 1981 The Women's Therapy Centre Institute in New York. Her books include The Impossibility of Sex, Fat is a Feminist Issue, Hunger Strike and What Do Women Want? She has also published two collections of her Guardian columns - What's Really Going On Here? and Towards Emotional Literacy.

For further information and interview requests, please contact

Hannah Blake or Dotti Irving at:

Colman Getty PR

T: 020 7631 2666

F: 020 7631 2699

hannah@colmangettypr.co.uk


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