Auschwitz memoir wins Jewish Quarterly-Wingate

Auschwitz memoir wins Jewish Quarterly-Wingate

A memoir of a childhood in Auschwitz, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka (Allen Lane), has won this year’s Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize.

Dov Kulka, who is professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was awarded the £4,000 Prize last night (26th February) at a ceremony at Kings Place, during Jewish Book Week.

Translated by Ralph Mandel, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death explores the marks left by the Holocaust and a childhood spent in Auschwitz. As a child, Otto Dov Kulka was sent to the ghetto of Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz. He has since spent much of his life studying Nazism and the Holocaust and has remained haunted by specific memories and images. In this book, he tries to understand his past, and Jewish history.

Rachel Lasserson, editor of the Jewish Quarterly and chair of the judging panel, said of the winning book: “In Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, Otto Dov Kulka achieves the impossible; a mythological and strangely beautiful new language for living with Auschwitz.”

The prize is awarded to a book that explores themes of Jewish concern in any of its myriad possible forms either explicitly or implicitly.

In addition to Lasserson, this year’s judging panel consisted of Professor of Modern Literary Theory and author Josh Cohen, Rabbi Jeremy Gordon and former publisher at the Folio Society, Catherine Taylor.

The other shortlisted titles for the prize were: The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (Hogarth), a story about three girls who are conscripted into the army in Israel; The Summer My Father Died by Yudit Kiss (Telegram Books), an exploration of Kudit’s family and twentieth century Hungary; The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus (Granta), a nightmarish vision of our world plagued by a virus that prevents communication; I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (Vintage), a portrayal of family, faith and history across continents and generations; Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman (Pushkin Press), a collection of stories spanning 40 years of writing.

The Wingate Prize, now known as the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, was established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate. Former winners include Imre Kertesz, Amos Oz, Zadie Smith, WG Sebald and Oliver Sacks.