THE SEVENTH WELL by FRED WANDER translated by Michael Hoffman
Fred Wander was born in 1917 in Vienna the son of poor Jewish immigrants. In 1938 he emigrated to France where he worked as a groom, a house painter and a road construction worker. He was interned in 1939 but escaped to Switzerland, from where he was deported to Germany in 1942. He survived Auschwitz, Buchenwald and several other concentration camps, but his parents and sisters died. Wander moved to the GDR in 1955 to study at the Literature Institute in Leipzig and worked as a freelance writer in Kleinmachnow, near Berlin. For twenty-five years he kept the memories of his fellow inmates in his head, but after the tragic death of his young daughter their voices poured forth. Published in East Germany in 1971, The Seventh Well finally appears in English in this masterful translation. In 1980 he returned to Vienna and received the Theodor Kramer Prize in 2003. Even in his eighties, he is said to have kept a packed suitcase in his hall, ready for flight. Fred Wander died in 2006.
Michael Hofmann is the highly acclaimed translator of Joseph Roth, Wolfgang Koeppen, Kafka and Brecht and the author of several books of poems and a book of criticism. He lives in London and Hamburg.
The 2009 Wingate Literary Prize Shortlist
London, 31 March 2009 – The shortlist for this year’s JQ-Wingate Literary Prize 2009 has been revealed, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 20th May.
The shortlist is as follows:
• Amir Gutfreund – The World a Moment Later (Toby Press)
• Zoë Heller – The Believers (Fig Tree)
• Ladislaus Löb – Dealing with Satan (Jonathan Cape)
• Denis MacShane – Globalising Hatred (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
• Fred Wander – The Seventh Well (Granta)
• Jackie Wullschlager – Chagall: Love and Exile (Allen Lane)
Commenting on the shortlist, Chairman of the Judging panel Will Skidelsky said: ‘The shortlist which emerged, I think it’s fair to say, with a surprisingly low level of disagreement spans fiction and non-fiction, the past and the present, and a variety of literary styles. We have a major biography of an artist whose life seems almost to stand for 20th-century Jewish experience; a delightfully eccentric novel about Israel’s “shadow history”; an impassioned polemic about the resurgence of anti-Semitism as a global force; an acerbic portrayal of Jewish family life in New York; and two very different books about the Holocaust. Every work on this list could plausibly win the prize, and choosing between them won’t be easy.’
This is the only UK prize to recognise writing by Jewish and non-Jewish authors, which stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern while appealing to the general reader.
Former winners include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks, WG Sebald, and Etgar Keret.
Notes to Editors
Established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize is now in its 31st year. The winner of the 2009 prize will receive £4,000.
Jewish and non-Jewish authors resident in the UK, British Commonwealth, Europe and Israel are eligible. Books submitted must be in English, either originally or in translation.
The Jewish Quarterly is the foremost Jewish literary and cultural journal in the English language. This year it celebrates 56 years of publication.
The Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation is a private grant-giving institution, established over forty years ago. In addition to supporting the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prizes, it has also organised and supported the Wingate Scholarships.
• Julie Burchill was Founding Editor of The Modern Review. Her books include No Exit, Sugar Rush, Sweet, the autobiography I knew I was Right, and the bestselling novel, Ambition. Her weekly columns in the Guardian and The Times offer nearly a decade’s worth of radical opinion and caustic wit.
• Will Skidelsky was Literary Editor of The New Statesman and subsequently Deputy Editor of Prospect Magazine before becoming Literary Editor of the Observer in late 2008.
• Nick Viner is Chief Executive of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) for London. Formerly a senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group, he sits on the London Advisory Board of Eureka, the Museum for Children, the Steering Committee of the London Jewish Forum and is a trustee of the International Cultural Fund which supports educational and cultural projects around Europe.
• Francesca Segal is a freelance writer and literary critic. Her work has appeared in Granta, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Financial Times, the Jewish Chronicle, and the Jewish Quarterly. She is currently a Features writer at Tatler and is the Observer’s Debut Fiction columnist.
The Short List
THE WORLD A MOMENT LATER by AMIR GUTFREUND translated by Jessica Cohen
The World a Moment Later is the shadow book of the official Zionist lexicon. It is the book of those who were forgotten by the national narrative of Israel, collected here to be remembered. These are the people who did not enter the encyclopedias, but their lives still contributed anger, wisdom, despair, frustration, bitterness, malice and endless love to the country. This is a fully-fledged humanistic novel which respects the myths of Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky but nonetheless is dedicated to the anonymous masses. It stems simultaneously from realism and fantasy, and provides an in-depth exploration of the question: what are we doing here?
Amir Gutfreund was born in Haifa in 1963. After studying applied mathematics at the Technion, he joined the Israeli Air Force. Awarded the Sapir Prize in 2003, Gutfreund lives in the Galilee with his wife, a clinical psychologist, and their three children.
THE BELIEVERS by ZOE HELLER
When Audrey makes a devastating discovery about her husband, New York radical lawyer Joel Litvinoff, she is forced to re-examine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel’s children will soon have to come to terms with this unsettling secret themselves, but for the time being, they are trying to cope with their own dilemmas.
Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, is grappling with a new-found attachment to Orthodox Judaism. Karla, an unhappily married social worker, is falling in love with an unlikely suitor at the hospital where she works. Adopted brother Lenny is back on drugs again.
In the course of battling their own demons and each other, every member of the family is called upon to decide what – if anything – they still believe in.
Zoë Heller is the author of two previous novels, Everything You Know and Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003.
DEALING WITH SATAN by LADISLAUS LOB
1,670 Jewish men, women and children from Hungary were rescued from the Nazis as a result of a deal made by a man called Rezso Kasztner – a Hungarian Jew – with Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect of the Holocaust. Twelve years later Kasztner was murdered by an extremist Jewish gang in his adopted home of Israel.
To this day Kasztner remains a highly controversial figure, regarded by some as a traitor and by many others as a hero. Dealing with Satan tells his story – and also the story of a child who lived to grow up after the Holocaust thanks to this man. A compelling combination of history and memoir, Dealing with Satan traces Kasztner’s negotiations with the SS and describes in detail the lives of the author and his fellow inmates at Bergen-Belsen. Löb’s first-hand account offers extraordinary insights into one of the least known and most surprising episodes of the ‘war against Jews’. It is also an examination of one individual’s unique achievement and a consideration of the profound moral issues raised by his dealings with some of the most evil men ever known.
Ladislaus Löb was born in Transylvania. He is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Sussex.
GLOBALISING HATRED by DENIS MACSHANE
This book argues that what the 21st century now faces is an ideological assault based on hatred of Jews which is as serious as any major threat to universal values as the world has ever faced. Anti-Semitism is the visible language and action of a deeper threat to world peace, to the achievements of the human spirit we call the Enlightenment, and undermines vital work to address problems like poverty and the challenges of the environment.
The book is both a cri de coeur for a new tolerance and a resolution to throw light on 21st-century anti-Semitism, which has left Europe to become a new form of mobilising politics across many continents.
Denis MacShane has been a Labour MP since 1994. He was deputy foreign secretary and Minister for Europe under Tony Blair. After graduating from Oxford he worked for the BBC and was the youngest-ever president of the National Union of Journalists. He has written biographies of François Mitterrand and Edward Heath as well as a number of books and pamphlets on European and global politics.
CHAGALL: LOVE AND EXILE by JACKIE WULLSCHLAGER
Wullschlager has had exclusive access to hundreds of hitherto unseen and unpublished letters from the Chagall family collection in Paris, many of which are quoted here for the first time, lending Chagall’s own unique voice to this account. Drawing also on numerous interviews with the artist’s family, friends, dealers and collectors, and illustrated with 200 paintings, drawings and photographs, many also previously unseen, this elegantly written biography gives for the first time a full and true account of Chagall the man and the artist – and of a life as intense, theatrical and haunting as his paintings.
Jackie Wullschlager is Chief Art Critic of the Financial Times. Her books include the prize-winning Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller, and an acclaimed group biography of Victorian children’s writers, Inventing Wonderland. She lives in London with her husband and three children.
For more information on the JQ-Wingate Awards or to contact the judges, please email Susannah Gowers Okret at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ++44 (0) 777 902 4624