Gary Shteyngart, Polish author Hannah Krall and Michel Laub, one of Granta’s Best of Young Brazilian Novelists, are among the seven authors shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize 2015.
The £4,000 prize is awarded annually to the best fiction or non-fiction book to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.
Shteyngart (pictured) is shortlisted for his memoir, Little Failure (Penguin), while Krall is shortlisted for Auschwitz memoir, Chasing the King of Hearts (Peirene), translated by Philip Boehm. Laub makes the list for his novel Diary of the Fall (Harvill), translated by Margaret Jull Costa, which tells the story of three generations and asks questions about history and identity, exploring what stories we choose to tell about ourselves and how we become the people we are.
Also on the shortlist are: Antony Polonsky’s three-volume study of the co-existence of Jewish and Polish and Russian communities, Jews in Poland and Russia (Littman Library); Dror Burstein’s cosmological meditation upon a beach in Israel, Netanya (Dalkey Archive), translated by Todd Hasak-Lowy; Thomas Harding’s story of two lives – his great uncle Hanns, a German Jew and potential Nazi victim, and Rudolf Höss, Kommandant of Auschwitz – in Hanns and Rudolf (Heinemann); and Zeruya Shalev’s novel of family and memory, Remains of Love (Bloomsbury), translated by Philip Simpson.
The prize judges are: Devorah Baum, a lecturer in English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Southampton; author and former New York Times senior editor, Eva Hoffman; author, playwright and academic, Gabriel Josipovici; and poet George Szirtes. They selected the shortlist from over 70 entries.
Hoffman said: “This year’s longlist had enough excellent books on it to promote – and provoke – vigorous debate, as we struggled to winnow it down to the requisite smaller number. In addition, we had the difficult task of choosing among both fiction and non-fiction (as well as some books of poetry); but in all genres, we looked for both originality, and the strength of each book’s achievement.”
She continued: “Our long shortlist reflects the internationalism of contemporary Jewish literature, and its ability to combine specifically Jewish concerns with varieties of cultural experiences (from the American immigrant memoir, to the history of various forms of Polish-Jewish coexistence), as well as universal themes which give all good literature its power and reach.”
The prize winner will be announced on 4th March at an award ceremony held at Jewish community centre JW3 in London.