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Winner of the 2007 Wingate Literary Prize

Howard Jacobson, Kalooki Nights (Cape)

This prize, sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation, is the only award in the UK to recognize a major work, by a Jewish or non-Jewish author, that stimulates an interest in and awareness of themes of Jewish concern among a wider reading public.

The winner of the 2007 award, announced at a special ceremony on 8 May, was Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson. The panel of judges was chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and included Professor Michael Baum, Michael Kustow and Anne Sebba. ‘Howard Jacobson’s verbal dexterity is brilliant,’ said Alibhai-Brown. ‘He is the authentic Anglo-Jewish voice of literature and speaks about the here and now.’

This year’s shortlist

Carmen Callil, Bad Faith (Cape)

Howard Jacobson, Kalooki Nights (Cape)

Adam LeBor, City of Oranges (Bloomsbury)

Andrew Miller, The Earl of Petticoat Lane (Heinemann)

Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française (Chatto)

A. B. Yehoshua, A Woman in Jerusalem (Halban)

About the winner

Life should have been sunny for Max Glickman, growing up in Crumpsall Park in peacetime, with his mother’s glamorous card evenings to look forward to, and photographs of his father’s favourite boxers on the walls. But other voices whisper seductively to him of Buchenwald, extermination, and the impossibility of forgetting.

Fixated on the crimes which have been committed against his people, but unable to live among them, Max moves away, marries out and draws cartoon histories of Jewish suffering in which no one, least of all the Jews, is much interested. But it’s a life. Or it seems a life until Max’s long-disregarded childhood friend, Manny Washinsky, is released from prison. Little by little, as he picks up his old connection with Manny, trying to understand the circumstances in which he made a Buchenwald of his own home, Max is drawn into Manny’s family history – above all his brother’s tragic love affair with a girl who is half-German. But more than that, he is drawn back into the Holocaust obsessions from which he realizes there can be, and should be, no release.

There is wild, angry, even uproarious laughter in this novel, but it is laughter on the edge. It is the comedy of cataclysm.

Born in Manchester, Howard Jacobson is the author of Coming from Behind, No More Mister Nice Guy, The Mighty Walzer, Who's Sorry Now?, The Making of Henry and - most recently and to enthusiastic acclaim - Kalooki Nights. He has also written two non-fiction books, Roots Schmoots: Journeys among Jews, an exploration of his own Jewish roots, and Seriously Funny: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime, an analysis of comedy and its function.

For more information, contact Geraldine D’Amico at Geraldine@jewishbookweek.com or 020 7446 8772

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.

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