The shortlist for a book award for “translating Jewishness to the reader” has been announced, with all five books final-round contenders dealing with war and its consequences.
Judges selecting works for the £4,000 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize opted for books dealing with the role of Poles in the Holocaust, Nazi methods in the Shoah, African refugees in southern Israel, Germans’ post-war denial and the invention of the term ‘genocide’.
“While the majority are inspired by historical events, they are all focused on live issues which have a huge relevance to the world today and connect to the present-day reader,” said Professor Bryan Cheyette, chair of the judges’ panel. “We feel all five books are tremendously strong, any of which would make a worthy winner.”
Among the authors shortlisted is the late Professor David Cesarani, for his historical work showing how the image of streamlined and efficient Nazi killing of Jews and others is not altogether accurate, featuring a first airing of some survivors’ accounts.
The translated work of Warsaw-born psychologist Anna Bikont is also among the five finalists, which highlights Polish collaboration in the Holocaust, and which put the author at risk, in a country where the subject is still a taboo.
Also included are Walter Kempowski’s translated work “is inspired by the forgotten genocide of ethnic Germans in East Prussia at the end of the Second World War,” while the invention of the term ‘genocide’ forms part of Phillippe Sands’ book dealing with the implications of the last great war. Finally, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s book shines a light on the “present refugee crisis in Israel”.
In its 40th anniversary year, the prize short-list sees a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, with the winner set to be announced on 23 February at JW3.