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The 2009 Wingate Literary Prize Judges

The Jewish Quarterly is delighted to announce the judges for the JQ-Wingate Prize 2009:

Julie Burchill was Founding Editor of The Modern Review. Her books include 'No Exit', ‘Sugar Rush’, ‘Sweet’ the autobiography 'I knew I was Right' and the best selling novel, 'Ambition'. Her weekly columns in The Guardian and The Times offer nearly a decade’s worth of radical opinion and caustic wit.

Will Skidelsky was Literary Editor of The New Statesman and subsequently Deputy Editor of Prospect Magazine before becoming Literary Editor of The Observer in late 2008.
Nick Viner is Chief Executive of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) for London. Formerly a senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group he sits on the London Advisory Board of Eureka, the Museum for Children, the Steering Committee of the London Jewish Forum and is a trustee of the International Cultural Fund which supports educational and cultural projects around Europe.

Francesca Segal is a freelance writer and literary critic. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Financial Times, The Jewish Chronicle, and The Jewish Quarterly. Francesca is currently a Features writer at Tatler and is The Observer's Debut Fiction columnist.

Details of the shortlist will be announced in March and the winner at an awards ceremony in June.

Winner of the 2008 Wingate Literary Prize

Etgar Keret , Missing Kissinger, published by Chatto & Windus

The winning author, Etgar Keret, was awarded £4,000 prize money.

This year’s shortlist

  • Phillippe Grimbert – Secret, published by Portobello
  • Etgar Keret – Missing Kissinger, published by Chatto & Windus
  • Philip Davis – Bernard Malamud, published by Oxford
  • Tom Segev – 1967, published by Abacus

Commenting on the winning book Judge Francine Stock said: 

“Judges of literary prizes always say the decision was hard. With the JQ Wingate Prize we had to choose between four outstanding books of distinct and frankly incomparable types. In the end, we made our choice according to the criteria of the prize. Etgar Keret's short stories are not only of literary merit, they do truly 'stimulate an awareness of and interest in themes of Jewish concern among the wider reading public.”

Keret's stories are sudden, sharp, funny, upsetting and unforgettable. They take us inside the obsessions and neuroses of modern Israel and then swoop outside and prod them in a way that is both hilarious and painful.”

The winner of the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize was announced today at an awards ceremony at Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street, London. These highly prestigious awards are the only awards in the UK to recognise major works, by Jewish or non-Jewish authors, that stimulate an interest in and awareness of themes of Jewish concern among a wider reading public.

Previous winners include Zadie Smith, Amos Oz, David Bezmozgis, David Grossman, Amos Elon, WG Sebald, Sebastian Haffner and Imre Kertesz.

The prize is sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation, and this year’s impressive judging panel includes TV presenter Francine Stock, actress and director Janet Suzman, culture commentator Norman Lebrecht and playwright Bernard Kops.

Notes to Editors

Established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate, the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize is now in its 30th year. The single winner of the 2008 prize will receive £4,000.

Jewish and non-Jewish authors resident in the UK, British Commonwealth, Europe and Israel are eligible. Books submitted must be in English, either originally or in translation.

Published 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 Holocaust and Zionism.

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

Judges

Francine Stock is a British radio presenter, TV presenter and novelist of part-French origin. After working in specialist journalism on the oil industry, she joined the BBC in 1983, as a radio producer and subsequently became a television presenter on Newsnight and TheMoney Programme. She was one of the original presenters of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row in 1998, later moving to The Film Programme on radio, which she still presents. Francine read Modern Languages at Oxford and has published two novels: A Foreign Country (1999) and Man-Made Fibre (2002).

Janet Suzman is a South African born actress and director, who moved to London in 1959. She became an established star of the London stage from the late 1960s through her association with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Janet’s debut film appearance was as the mother of an autistic child in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1970). Perhaps her most notable role was her Oscar-nominated portrayal of the Russian Czarina in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). She also won the London Evening Standard award for her performance in a 1973 staging of Antony and Cleopatra. In more recent years, Janet has focused on stage directing, helming a South African production of "Othello" in 1987 (later filmed for broadcast) and a well-received production of "The Cherry Orchard" (1997).

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and politics. His Wednesday column in the London Evening Standard and on www.scena.org has been described as 'required reading' and is reprinted in journals from Norway to China. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to Bloomberg. His many books - which include The Maestro Myth, When the Music Stops, Mahler Remembered and The Life and Death of Classical Music - have been translated into 17 languages. His first novel, The Song of Names, won the Whitbread Award in 2003 and is due to be made into an international movie.

Bernard Kops is one of the best-known playwrights of his time. He achieved recognition with his first play The Hamlet of Stepney Green (1956), which is considered to be one of the keystones of the "New Wave" in British Drama. Subsequent plays include Enter Solly Gold (1962), Ezra (1981), Playing Sinatra (1991) and The Dreams of Ann Frank (1992). He has also written extensively for radio and television. He has published volumes of poetry, autobiography, and a memoir of the East End, Bernard Kops' East End (2006).

The Winning Book

Etgar Keret – Missing Kissinger

At a children’s tea party, a magician tries to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but takes out only its head; a guy brings a girl home for the first time only to find that his best friend has pissed on the doorstep; two drunk students do battle with a pavement and win; a young man graduates from Magician School but soon discovers that he can’t do everything; another has a mother and girlfriend who hate each other’s guts, and they both demand that he gives them the other one’s heart…many of the characters in these stories are waiting for something to change their lives, many of them can’t quite reach ultimate happiness, some of them are sick, some are abandoned, and most have trouble communicating. The unexpected can, and usually does, happen.

Etgar Keret’s stories are very short – and every word counts. They are quick, brief and precise, and they move us without hesitation. They are hilarious and off-the-wall, yet also dark, sometimes violent, and often intensely poignant. They are, in short, brilliant.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Etgar Keret is one of the leading voices in Israeli literature and cinema.  In the last twelve years he has published four books of short stories and novellas, four graphic novels and one feature screenplay. His story collections, bestsellers in Israel, have been published in nineteen different languages. His movie, Malka Red-Heart, won the Israeli ‘Oscar’, as well as acclaim at several international film festivals. His first collection to be published in the UK was The Nimrod Flip-Out (Chatto & Windus). Keret lectures at Tel Aviv University’s School of Film.

The Short List

Phillippe Grimbert – Secret

Philippe is a skinny weakling with a permanent sickly pallor and a toy dog – found in his attic – for a best friend. His older brother is stronger than he is, better looking in every way, the perfect child for his athletic and beautiful parents. He is Philippe’s constant companion; and he is also a figment of his imagination.

It is only when Philippe turns fifteen that he realises that his two playmates, the toy dog and the make-believe brother, are both intimately connected to a secret his family has been keeping since World War II.  It is left to his neighbour, his family’s trusted friend Louise, to speak the unspeakable and reveal the truth, letting it emerge slowly, awkwardly, and in fragments. Against the dramatic background of Vichy France, the story of his parents’ love affair is played out with tragic consequences and reveals to Philippe a sibling who was not imaginary at all…

Secret is based on a true story and, like his protagonist, Grimbert discovered his family’s history later in life. Secret is his attempt to piece together the hidden story behind his parents’ relationship, a story that is both intensely personal and universally resonant.

Secret was a bestseller in France and has been successful across Europe, where is has been translated into ten different languages. It has received two of France’s most trustworthy literary prizes, voted for by ordinary readers - the Prix des Lectrices d’Elle and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. The story has also been successfully adapted for the screen, the film premiering at Cannes in 2007 and on general release in cinemas across the UK in 2008.

Phillippe Grimbert is a psychoanalyst.  He is the author of several works of non-fiction and a novel, Paul’s Little Dress.  He lives in Paris.

Philip Davis – Bernard Malamud

Philip Davis presents the first full-scale biography ofBernard Malamud(1914-1986), the self-made son of poor Jewish immigrants who went on to become one of the foremost novelists and short-story writers of the post-war period. The time is ripe for a revival of interest in a man who at the peak of his success stood alongside Saul Bellow and Philip Roth in the ranks of Jewish American writers.

Philip Davisis Professor of English Literature in the School of English, University of Liverpool. He has beenreading Malamud for over thirty years. The opportunity for this Englishman to write the first-ever biography of this major American novelist arose as a result of a chance meeting at a graduation ceremony in Liverpool, when news reached him that the Malamud family were looking for a biographer after nearly twenty years of discouraging the writing of a life.

Tom Segev – 1967

A vivid account of the year 1967 and the impact it made on the Middle East and the rest of the world. 1967 did not mark the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it was a year that changed the course of history. When Egypt's President Nasser closed the straits of Tiran to Israeli navigation, it triggered a conflict between Israel and the armies of Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Within six days the Israelis had occupied territories three times wider than their own, populated by over a million Palestinian Arabs.

Israel suddenly became something of a colonial empire, more Goliath than David. The war granted political legitimacy to Menachem Begin's right-wing Herut party, and Arab terrorism paved the way for Israel's secret service to become a major factor in the country's power structure. 1967 will not be a military history, nor will it focus mainly on political developments. The year 1967 dramatically altered the lives of millions of individuals and this book will focus on the personal stories from both sides of the conflict.

Tom Segev (born March 1, 1945 in Jerusalem) is an Israeliintellectual, journalist, and historian. Segev's parents fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and settled in Palestine. His father was killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Segev studied history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received a doctorate in history from Boston University in the 1970s.[2] Segev is a columnist for Ha'aretz, Israel's most prestigious newspaper, and has published several books. He is considered a New Historian, a group of left-wing Israeli historians who have begun a reexamination of the history of Israel and Zionism.

For more information on the shortlisted books or to contact the judges, please

email Marion Cohen at marion@cohen28.co.uk

 or call 020 8444 0253 / 07958 397 407

Click here for the 2007 winner.

Click here for the 2006 winner.

For past winners of the prize during 2001-2005, click here .

For past winners of the prize during 1996-2000, click here.

  © 2007 Jewish Quarterly | All rights reserved