Themes of identity, history, faith and family run through the 2019 JQ Wingate Literary Prize long list.
This year’s 13-strong list includes two rediscovered works and a debut novel among the seven works of fiction and six non-fiction books.
Now in its 42ndyear, 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 2019 long-listed books are:
1947: When Now Begins by Elisabeth Asbrink (translated by Fiona Graham) – Scribe
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – Tinder Press/Headline
No Place To Lay One’s Head by Françoise Frenkel (translated by Stephanie Smee) – Pushkin Press.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday – Granta Books
Eternal Life by Dara Horn – W.W.Norton & Co Ltd
Evacuation by Raphael Jerusalmy (translated by Penny Hueston) – Text Publishing
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbour by Yossi Klein Halevi – Harper Collins US
If All The Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kurshan– St Martins Press
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy – Hamish Hamilton
A Weekend in New York by Benjamin Markovits – Faber
Memento Park by Mark Sarvas – Farrar, Straus & Giroux
We are Gathered by Jamie Weisman – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Deposition 1940-1944 by Leon Werth (edited/translated by David Ball) – Oxford University Press
This year’s judging panel comprises former JQ Wingate Literary Prize winner Thomas Harding together with best-selling children’s author Francesca Simon;JHub Director and JDOV founder Shoshana Boyd Gelfand and critic and literary editor Arifa Akbar.
Commenting on the long list, chair of judges Shoshana Boyd Gelfand said: “Part of the joy – and the challenge – of judging the JQ Wingate Prize is the diversity of the books that meet the criteria. This year’s entries certainly didn’t disappoint on that front and narrowing the field down to just 13 books was a difficult task.
“In the end, we chose seven novels which are vastly different in terms of themes, settings, and style. What they have in common is their literary merit and a profound message. As for the six non-fiction books that made the long list, they are even more diverse although two are diaries from the Second World War that have just been translated into English. The panel felt that both these lost voices from the past deserved to be recognised and heard again. The other non-fiction books similarly brought a unique and fresh approach to their subject matter, whether that was contemporary Israel or Jewish family life.
“Israel, history, faith and family are recurring leitmotifs throughout the list – but if there is one overriding theme it is the breadth and diversity of Jewish identity which is looked at through various lenses by our long list authors. We hope this list will encourage readers to connect and explore their own questions around the richness and diversity of Jewish identity. And of course, we hope they will enjoy these books as much as we have.”
The 2019 short list will be published in mid-January and the prize winner will be announced at an event at JW3 on Monday February 25 https://www.jw3.org.uk/event/wingate-literary-prize#.XAeewPZ2s2w
The JQ Wingate Prize is the only UK literary prize of its kind and attracts nominations from all over the globe. Previous winners includeAmos Oz, Zadie Smith, Oliver Sacks, Otto Dov Kulkaand David Grossman.