Orange Prize-winner Linda Grant has been shortlisted for the £4,000 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for her book The Dark Circle (Virago).
The prize shortlist, celebrating writing demonstrating the "depth and diversity" of Jewish writing globally, comprises one novel, two memoirs, a work of investigative journalism, a history and a biography. In addition to Grant, Michael Frank has made the cut, along with Joanne Limburg, Mya Guarnieri Jaradat, Laurence Rees and George Prochnik.
Grant's shortlisted seventh novel, The Dark Circle, tells the story of tubercular east London twins, Lenny and Miriam Lynskey, who are the first Jews to arrive at a new sanatorium in 1950s Kent. The book was also shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction last year.
Frank is shortlisted for memoir The Mighty Franks (Fourth Estate) about his unusual upbringing in a Hollywood family. Also focused on family, poet and author Limburg is in the running with her autobiography, Small Pieces: A Book of Lamentations, an account of coming to terms with her brother’s suicide and a mediation on faith.
Jaradat is recognised for her exploration of the lives of asylum seekers and migrant workers in Israel in The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others (Pluto Press), drawing on a decade of reporting, and Rees is shortlisted for his history The Holocaust (Penguin Books), striving to definitively answer how it happened and why.
Prochnik rounds off the shortlist with Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem (Granta), in which he revisits the life and work of the scholar widely regarded as the founder of the study of Kabbalah.
Judge Toby Lichtig, TLS fiction and politics editor, said the shortlisted books not only reflected on the Jewish experience but "shine a light on matters of universal human importance". He was joined on the judging panel by author and critic Amanda Craig, journalist, broadcaster and Booker Prize Foundation trustee Bidisha, and London School of Jewish Studies teaching fellow Maureen Kendler.
"We are delighted with this shortlist, which demonstrates the depth, vitality and diversity of Jewish writing across genres, generations and continents," said Lichtig. "Family, belonging, outsiders and outliers all feature strongly, as does a mixture of comedy and tragedy.
"While all of these books reflect in some important way on specifically Jewish experience, so too do they all shine a light on matters of universal human importance: notions of identity, kinship, what it means to be part of a group, or to break away from one; how to treat others and be more humane. These are six books to stimulate, educate, vex and entertain: a cross-section of the best of contemporary Jewish writing."
The 2018 prize winner will be announced on 15th February during an event at JW3 discussing the significance of the prize, chaired by the BBC’s Emily Kasriel.