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Wingate Literary Prize

Mona Yahia and Mark Roseman win Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prizes

Presented on 30th April 2001

The judges of this year's Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prizes, sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, awarded the Fiction prize to Mona Yahia for her debut novel When the Grey Beetles took over Baghdad, and the Non-Fiction prize to Mark Roseman for the compelling A Past In Hiding.

The two winning authors were each presented with a cheque for £4,000 at a reception at the Arts Club in London on Monday 30th April. The six shortlisted authors each received £300.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Chair of the judges, said:  'We were overwhelmed by the high standard of the books on the Fiction and on Fiction shortlists, and by the range of subjects covered and quality of writing, but we were unanimous in our decision and thrilled with what we received to read.'

Mona Yahia was born in Baghdad into an Iraqi Jewish family.  Together with her family, she escaped to Israel in 1970. She studied Psychology at Tel Aviv University and worked as a trainer in the School for Army Commanders. In 1985, she moved to Germany to study fine arts. She has published short stories in London Magazine and The Jewish Quarterly, as well as in German anthologies.

Mark Roseman is Professor of Modern History at Southampton University. His research lies broadly in the field of twentieth century German history and he has a particular interest in Holocaust survivor biography and memory.  He called on his vast knowledge in this subject for this award-winning book, which examines the way records and testimonies of the Holocaust can both complement and contradict each other.

Established in 1976 and sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, The Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prizes are awarded annually to newly published books that stimulate an interest in and awareness of themes of Jewish concern amongst a wider reading public

This year's judging panel was chaired by Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Chief Executive of independent health care charity the Kings Fund, Julia Hobsbawm, Chairwoman of public relations firm Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, Michael Lazarus, former Chairman of the Jewish Literary Trust and Jon Silverman, Home and Legal Affairs Correspondent of the BBC.

2001 Fiction Winner:

When the Grey Beetles Took Over Baghdad by Mona Yahia (Peter Halban)

This remarkable debut novel focuses on the vulnerable Jewish community in 1960s Baghdad, where superstition and social niceties live side by side with public hangings and disappearances. The story is seen through the eyes of a 15 year old girl, born into a Jewish Iraqi family. It is set in the aftermath of the six day war, within the backdrop of the rise of the Ba'ath party and its regime of terror over the Jewish community.

Judges comments “Mona Yahia conjures up the scents and atmosphere of Baghdad, as well as growing fear, with consummate elegance.  You can feel your flesh tingle as you read it.”

2001 Fiction Prize runners up

When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant (Granta Books)

In the Shape of a Boar by Lawrence Norfolk (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)

Will Dolores Come to Tea? by Elisabeth Russell Taylor (Arcadia)

2001 Non-Fiction Winner:

The Past in Hiding by Mark Roseman (Allen Lane/Penguin Press)

The story focuses on the author's relationship with Holocaust survivor Marianne Ellenbogen. Roseman interviewed the elderly Liverpool resident about her experiences, and after her death he found himself with access to a vast array of papers secreted in her house, including photographs, diaries and letters. Drawing on interviews with those who knew her, on countless papers and on Roseman's wide knowledge about the Third Reich, this is also the story of a historian's investigation into the nature of memory.

Judges comments 'Mark Roseman has written a history of one woman's experience which ends up being a brilliant account of memory and the tricks it plays, as well as a tribute to an unsung heroine.'

2001 Non-Fiction Prize runners up:

Rock Žn' Roll Jews by Michael Billig (Five Leaves)

Chasing Shadows by Hugo Gryn with Naomi Gryn (Viking)

Whitehall and the Jews 1933-1948 by Louise London (Cambridge University Press)

Notes to Editors:

Published continuously in London since 1953, The Jewish Quarterly is one of the foremost Jewish literary and cultural journals in the English language. Its spectrum of subjects includes art, criticism, fiction, film, history, Judaism, literature, poetry, philosophy, politics, theatre, the Shoah and Zionism.

The Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation is a private grant-giving institution, first established forty years ago. It has supported these literary awards for over 20 years.


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