2013 Finalists for Prestigious Sami Rohr Literary Prize Announced
New York, February 27th, 2013 — The Jewish Book Council today announced the finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The prize distinguishes the important role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience. The award of $100,000—one of the largest literary prizes in the world—honors a specific work as well as the author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature. A runner-up is awarded $25,000. This year’s contenders are being recognized for their achievements in fiction. They are Shani Boianjiu, author of The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth/Crown Publishing Group), Ben Lerner, author of Leaving Atocha Station (Coffee House Press), Stuart Nadler, author of The Book of Life (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books), Asaf Schurr, author of Motti, translated by Todd Hasak Lowy (Dalkey Archive Press), and Francesca Segal, author of The Innocents (Voice/Hyperion). The authors hail from three countries, representing a global voice in Jewish literature. All finalists become a part of the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute.
Sami Rohr, a noted philanthropist and businessman, who died in July of 2012 at age 86, viewed his philanthropy as an investment in the Jewish people and was as involved with charitable efforts as he was with his business.
The Rohr Prize has been given annually since 2007 and considers works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. “With this award, we are carrying forward Sami Rohr’s legacy and his vision of supporting emerging authors so that Jewish literature will thrive for generations,” says Carolyn Starman Hessel, director of the Jewish Book Council.
The winner will be announced in April 2013. The winner and finalists will be celebrated at a gala in New York City on May 29, 2013.
Biographical Information about the 2013 Rohr Prize Finalists
Shani Boianjiu is the author of The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth/Crown Publishing Group). Born in 1982 in Israel, Boianjiu grew up in Kfar Vradim, a village in the Western Galilee. After her military service, which she spent training combat soldiers in the use of weapons, she attended Harvard. Her novel is based on her experiences as a soldier in the IDF. She has been recognized by the National Book Foundation as one of their "5 Under 35" authors, based on a recommendation from the writer Nicole Krauss.
Ben Lerner, author of Leaving The Atocha Station (Coffeehouse Press), is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic. He was awarded the Hayden Carruth prize for his cycle of fifty-two sonnets, The Lichtenberg Figures. In 2004, Library Journal named it one of the year's twelve best books of poetry. The Lichtenberg Figures appeared in a German translation in 2010, for which it received the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie" in 2011, making Lerner the first American to receive this honor.
Stuart Nadler is the author of The Book Of Life (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books). He is the recipient of the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship, he was also the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of Wise Men, and the story collection The Book of Life.
Asaf Schurr is the author of Motti, translated by Todd Hasak Lowy (Dalkey Archive Press). Schurr was born in Jerusalem in 1976 and has a BA in philosophy and theater from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At present he is a translator and writes literary reviews for the Hebrew press. Schurr has received the Bernstein Prize (2007), the Minister of Culture Prize (2007), and the Prime Minister's Prize (2008).
Francesca Segal is the author of The Innocents (Voice/Hyperion). She was born in London in 1980. Brought up between the UK and America, she studied at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, before becoming a journalist and writer. Her work has appeared in Granta, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and Vogue, amongst many others. She has been a features writer at Tatler, and for three years wrote the Debut Fiction column in The Observer.
About the Sami Rohr Award: In celebration of Sami Rohr's 80th birthday, his children and grandchildren inaugurated the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature to honor his lifelong love of Jewish writing. The annual award recognizes the unique role of contemporary writers in the transmission and examination of the Jewish experience. It is intended to encourage and promote outstanding writing of Jewish interest. Each year, the prize of $100,000 aims to reward an emerging writer whose work has demonstrated a fresh vision and evidence of further growth.
Recipients must have written a book of literary merit that stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern. Fiction and nonfiction books are considered in alternate years.
In conjunction with this award, the Rohr family has established the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, a forum devoted to the continuity of Jewish literature. The Prize and Institute are coordinated and administered under the exclusive auspices of the Jewish Book Council. Winners are selected by an independent panel of judges.