The 2017 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize has generated an innovative and diverse long list of fiction and non-fiction from authors around the world, as it marks its 40th anniversary.
The 14-strong list includes six novels as well as a multi-faceted mix of histories, memoirs and biographies, which throw new light on past and present events.
Established in 1977, the annual prize, worth £4,000 and run in association with JW3, is awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.
The long-listed books are:
The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa
The Crime and the Silence by Anna Bikont
Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian Buruma
Raoul Wallenberg: The Biography by Ingrid Carlberg
Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949 by David Cesarani
In Gratitude by Jenny Diski; Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
After One Hundred and Twenty: Reflecting on Death, Mourning and the Afterlife in the Jewish Tradition by Hillel Halkin
The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon
Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson
All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski
East West Street by Philippe Sands
The German War: A Nation Under Arms by Nicholas Stargardt
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain.
This year’s judging panel comprises award-winning playwright Amy Rosenthal; Granta Best of British Young Novelist Joanna Kavenna; Jewish Quarterly Literary Editor and translator Natasha Lehrer and Professor of Modern Literature Bryan Cheyette.
Chair of judges Prof Cheyette says: ‘We are delighted with the 14 strong long-list that we have chosen out of 70 entries. The entries this year were of a very high calibre and we debated long and hard over who to include on the list. However, we believe we have a long-list which is diverse and of an enormously high quality, reaching across a variety of genres and countries’.
‘It is a list which encompasses some great novels – comedies and literary thrillers, as well as more elegiac, lyrical fiction, by Bosnian-American, British, Israeli, Palestinian and German authors. There is also a rich selection of innovative non-fiction – World War Two histories told from a German viewpoint, or told from the perspective of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust; powerful accounts of post-war Polish attitudes to Jews; as well as definitive biographies and compelling historical memoirs. Many of the themes and histories covered are live issues which will connect directly with the concerns of the present-day reader’.
There were four books the judges decided not to long-list but wanted to mention especially:
The Story Teller by Walter Benjamin
The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth
The Asylum by Moriz Scheyer
Messages from a Lost World by Stefan Zweig.
Prof Cheyette says: ‘These are all tremendously important works by great writers whose fiction, journalism and essays have been recently translated and published. But the judges felt we couldn’t include writers who died in the 1930s or 1940s in a contemporary prize’.
The 2017 prize winner will be announced on February 23 at JW3 during an event at to mark 40 years of the JQ Wingate Prize. Past judges and winners will be joining journalist and Wingate trustee Emily Kasriel to discuss ‘What Makes a Book Jewish’. For more information go to JW3.