CHAP­TER & VERSE

KERET ON TOP

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

ETGAR KERET is the win­ner of the 2008 Jewish Quar­terly Win­gate Lit­er­ary Prize for his imag­i­na­tive and mis­chievous col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, Miss­ing Kissinger (Chatto & Win­dus). The 41-yearold Is­raeli writer and film-maker tri­umphed over Tom Segev, Philip Davis and Philippe Grim­bert, and wins £4,000.

It was a free-rang­ing list. Segev’s book, 1967: Is­rael, the War and the Year that Trans­formed the Mid­dle East, does what it says on the jacket, of­fer­ing a dra­matic nar­ra­tive of the year in which the per­cep­tion of Is­rael as valiant un­der­dog was changed to that of un­com­pro­mis­ing coloniser. Philip Davis won crit­i­cal plau­dits for his bi­og­ra­phy Bernard Mala­mud: A Writer’s Life, ex­plor­ing the hin­ter­land of the gritty and com­mit­ted au­thor of The Nat­u­ral and The Fixer. Philippe Grim­bert’s novel, Se­cret, based on an emo­tional dis­cov­ery in his own fam­ily back­ground, was a huge suc­cess in France.

In the awards cer­e­mony in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day, the judges’ chair Francine Stock ad­mit­ted that the four books were of “dis­tinct and frankly in­com­pa­ra­ble types.

“In the end,” Stock said, “we made our choice ac­cord­ing to the cri­te­ria of the prize. Etgar Keret’s short sto­ries are not only of lit­er­ary merit; they do truly ‘stim­u­late an aware­ness of and in­ter­est in themes of Jewish con­cern among the wider read­ing pub­lic’.”

Judg­ing along with Francine Stock were ac­tress Janet Suz­man, writer and critic Norman Lebrecht and play­wright Bernard Kops. A dis­tin­guished panel, but not com­pletely in tune with the pop­u­lar vote, it seems. In a new de­par­ture, the Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­tre for Lon­don in­vited mem­bers of the read­ing pub­lic to of­fer their views on the short­list, and this process saw Grim­bert com­ing top.

Keret: win­ner

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