Israeli writer Yaniv Iczkovits wins 2021 Wingate Literary Prize
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Israeli writer Yaniv Iczkovits wins 2021 Wingate Literary Prize

Author's work set in the 19th century was unanimously voted the winner of the prestigious £4,000 award announced by JW3

Yaniv Iczkovits (Credit: Eric Sultan)
Yaniv Iczkovits (Credit: Eric Sultan)

An Israeli writer’s historical novel has been awarded the prestigious 2021 Wingate Literary Prize.

Yaniv Iczkovits’ The Slaughterman’s Daughter took the £4,000 prize, pipping others on the shortlist including House of Glass by Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman.

The prize, now in its 44th year, was announced during a virtual ceremony hosted by JW3 on Sunday night, featuring the BBC’s Emily Kasriel, and it showcases works which translate the idea of Jewishness to a wider audience.

Chair of Judges Rabbi Janner-Klausner said they were “unanimous” in their decision, calling the novel, that is set in the shtetls of the 19th Century eastern Europe, “epic literature with an excellent translation.

“In a post-Holocaust world, reading a book about Jewish shtetl life which is at the same time, funny, shocking and entrancing, enables someone who is not Jewish to understand so much of what makes us tick. The Slaughterman’s Daughter is like your closest friend that you want to show off to everyone because you want people to see how special they are.”

Yaniv Iczkovits said he was “truly honoured to have even been shortlisted, so the joy of being awarded with the Wingate Prize is truly exceptional.”

He said: “It’s not an idea that made me write this book, but rather my Jewish roots which are located in several places on this globe. I wanted to tell a story about a lost world, but I realised that nothing is really lost. History and circumstances can destroy an entire civilisation. But character and determination, such as Fanny’s and Zizek’s, allow us to reimagine reality in different forms. I thank the judges of the Wingate Prize for allowing my protagonists to speak louder.”

The judging panel was comprised of Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, broadcaster Bidisha, Booker-shortlisted author A.D. Miller, and award-winning biographer and historian Anne Sebba.

Other shortlisted candidates included House of Glass by Hadley Freeman, On Division by Goldie Goldbloom, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb, Apeirogon by Colum McCann, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann and We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer.

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