This just in from the Jewish Book Council:
New York, NY (March 21, 2007) â€“The Jewish Book Council, administrator of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature, announced today that Tamar Yellin of England, author of The Genizah at the House of Shepher (Toby Press), is the first recipient of the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, the largest-ever Jewish literary prize given, and one of the largest literary prizes in the nation.
The two runner-up awardees, who will receive the Choice Award and will each receive $7,500, are Amir Gutfreund, author of Our Holocaust (Toby Press, translated by Jessica Cohen), from Israel, and Michael Lavigne, author of Not Me (Random House), from San Francisco. All three winning authors will be celebrated at a gala event to be held May 21 in Manhattan.
“This was a tremendously difficult and rewarding process as all five finalists were extraordinarily talented, each with a compelling story to tell, and the talent to tell it well,” said Geri Gindea, director of the program, which operates as a department of the Jewish Book Council. In making the selections, the judges considered the book, the author and the writingâ€™s contribution to Jewish literature.
Reflecting on the choice of Tamar Yellin, Rebecca Goldstein, novelist, professor of philosophy, a Fellow at Harvardâ€™s Radcliffe Institute and one of the competitionâ€™s five judges, said, â€œYellin combines formidable Jewish scholarship with soaring lyricism. And, if scholarship and lyricism arenâ€™t enough, she also displays a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. This is a writer who can do it all, bring history lovingly into the present and conjure an art of beauty and light out of the ardors of scholarship.â€?
In addition to Goldstein, the judges, whose names were undisclosed until today, are Jeremy Dauber, associate professor of Yiddish language, literature & culture at Columbia University; Daisy Maryles, executive editor, Publishers Weekly; Jonathan Rosen, novelist and editorial director, Nextbook; and Ruth Wisse, professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard University.