Linda Grant’s new book ‘A Stranger City’ has won one of the Jewish world’s foremost literary prizes for its “honest” portrayal of Jewish life in London.
Grant’s novel, described as “a love letter to London,” won the 2020 Wingate Literary Prize and £4,000 on Monday after organisers cancelled the evening event at which it was due to announced.
Limmud founder Clive Lawton, who chaired a panel of judges, said Grant’s book “felt like a work for the 21st century and a coming of age for Jews in Britain”.
He said: “The US has long seen Jews integrated very unselfconsciously into their narratives, but this happens far less in British culture – in literature, television and film. So, in general when you are looking at books about Jews in Britain, the characters are signalled in a much more obvious fashion.”
Lawton added that Grant’s seventh novel was “a mature and honest portrayal of the Jewish experience in London without such self-conscious signposting”.
She was up against ‘Kafka’s Last Trial’ by Benjamin Balint, ‘Liar’ by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, ‘Live a Little’ by Howard Jacobson, ‘Inheritance’ by Dani Shapir, ‘Lake Success’ by Gary Shteyngart and ‘The Photographer at Sixteen’ by George Szirtes.
The prize is awarded to “the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader” and Lawton’s panel a host of established writers including Dr Roopa Farooki, Philippe Sands QC and Kim Sherwood.
Previously a judge herself, Grant said: “I’ve been writing books with Jewish themes since 1996, so it’s been a long wait to finally win this most prestigious prize. I’ve read several shortlisted books so I was stunned to have even been considered.”