Hannah Krall’s Chasing the King of Hearts, Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure and Brazilian novelist Michel Laub’s Diary of the Fall lead the 2015 JQ-Wingate literary prize shortlist, charged with translating Jewishness to a general audience.
In a strikingly diverse list of seven ‘distinctly original’ titles, many of them memoirs, or portraying historical events and figures, this year’s ‘Jewish Booker’ shortlist ranges from the US to Brazil, from Russia to Israel. It recognises the work of writers who were born, in the words of prize director Rachel Lasserson ‘into stories of epic scale’.
Also on the shortlist are Antony Polonsky’s study of the co-existence of Jewish and Polish and Russian communities, Dror Burstein’s cosmological meditation upon a beach in Israel, Thomas Harding’s story of two lives – his great uncle, Hanns, a German Jew and potential Nazi victim, and Rudolf Höss, Kommandant of Auschwitz – and Zeruya Shalev’s novel of family and memory, Remains of Love.
The 2015 Wingate nominees show “just how wide-ranging and illuminating the Jewish experience continues to be”, says judge Devorah Baum. Fellow judge Eva Hoffman cites “Hanns and Rudolf”, by Thomas Harding, as an example of what the JQ-Wingate prize does best: creates a platform for “a book which remained surprising throughout — both for its form, which compellingly interweaves biographies of two protagonists located on starkly opposing sides of history; and for its insights into the mind of a Nazi perpetrator which, in their very fascination, were among the most disturbing I’ve come across in the literature of the Holocaust.’
Judges Gabriel Josipovici and George Szirtes joined Devorah Baum and Eva Hoffman in selecting the 2015 shortlist from over seventy entries, (a fifth more than last year).
The 2015 winner will be announced on 4 March at a prize event at JW3 and will receive £4,000.
The Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize is an annual literary prize inaugurated in 1977, named after the prize’s founder Harold Hyam Wingate. It is the only UK award to recognise writing by Jewish and non-Jewish writers that explores themes of Jewish concern in any of its myriad possible forms, implicitly or explicitly.
2015 JQ-Wingate Shortlist
1. Jews in Poland and Russia by Antony Polonsky (Littman Library)
2. Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (Peirene) Translated by Philip Boehm
3. Remains of Love by Zeruya Shalev (Bloomsbury) Translated by Philip Simpson
4. Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub (Harvill) Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
5. Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart (Penguin)
6. Netanya by Dror Burstein (Dalkey Archive) Translated by Todd Hasak-Lowy
7. Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding (Heinemann)
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