The Edward Lewis Wallant Award

About the Award

The Edward Lewis Wallant Award is presented annually to an American writer whose published creative work of fiction is considered to have significance for the American Jew.

The award was established shortly after the untimely death in December 1962 of Edward Lewis Wallant, gifted author of The Human Season and The Pawnbroker, by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford. The Waltmans were prompted to create this memorial because of their admiration for Edward Wallant's literary ability.

A panel of three critics serves as judges, and they seek out a writer whose fiction bears a kinship to the work of Wallant, and preferably an author who is younger and unrecognized. Among those who have received the award in past years are: Kenneth Bonert, Joshua Henkin, Edith Pearlman, Julie Orringer, Sara Houghteling, Eileen Pollack, Ehud Havazelet, Leo Litwak, Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Thane Rosenbaum, Myla Goldberg, Jonathan Rosen, and Nicole Krauss.

2015 Recipient - Rebecca Dinerstein

The 2015 Edward Lewis Wallant Award recipient is Rebecca Dinerstein, for her novel, The Sunlit Night.

For a recent profile of Rebecca on The Sunlit Night , see:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/11632541/Meet-Rebecca-Dinerstein-the-latest-US-literary-sensation.html

Rebecca Dinerstein is the author of The Sunlit Night and the bilingual English-Norwegian collection of poems Lofoten. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker, among others. She received her B.A. from Yale and her M.F.A. in Fiction from New York University, where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn.

The Sunlit Night takes place in the beautiful, barren landscape of the Far North, under the ever-present midnight sun, where Frances and Yasha are surprised to find refuge in each other. Their lives have been upended—Frances has fled heartbreak and claustrophobic Manhattan for an isolated artist colony; Yasha arrives from Brooklyn to fulfill his beloved father's last wish: to be buried "at the top of the world." They have come to learn how to be alone.

But in Lofoten, an archipelago of six tiny islands in the Norwegian Sea, ninety-five miles north of the Arctic Circle, they form a bond that fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, offering solace amidst great uncertainty. With nimble and sure-footed prose, Dinerstein reveals that no matter how far we travel to claim our own territory, it is ultimately love that gives us our place in the world.

Reviewers have unanimously praised the novel:

• "Lyrical as a poem, psychologically rich as a thriller, funny, dark, warm, and as knowing of place as any travel book or memoir, The Sunlit Night marks the appearance of a brave talent."  —Jonathan Safran Foer

• "By turns ravishing and hilarious, The Sunlit Night is more than a shining debut—it's the work of a young master. Here's an exciting new voice that sings perfectly in key." —Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

The Wall Street Journal: "The Sunlit Night is an original work of gentle irony counterpoised by delightful sincerity, which offers distinct turns of phrase with precision and beauty."

From The New York Times: "The Norwegian Arctic of Dinerstein's imagination is a strange and wonderful place, half stark wilderness and half Scandi-kitsch paradise. The constant sunlight of midsummer feeds the book's dreamy, surreal quality."

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review: A "captivating debut novel...[Dinerstein's] prose is lyrical and silky, but it's also specific, with acute observations and precise detail, and she evokes the sun-stroked, barren Norwegian landscape with a striking sense of place...With provocative insights about the cruelty of abandonment, the concept of home, and the limits of parental and filial love, Dinerstein's novel is a rich reading experience."

The 2015 Edward Lewis Wallant Award presentation ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the University of Hartford, Wilde Auditorium. This year's Wallant Award ceremony will also mark the re-publication of Edward Lewis Wallant's The Pawnbroker (Fig Tree Press, 2015) and include a special tribute to Mark Shechner, a Wallant Award judge since 2007 who passed away in October 2015. This year, the Greenberg Center has also named one finalist for the 2015 Wallant Award: Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West (St. Martin’s Press, 2015).

As a Wallant Award winner, Dinerstein joins a distinguished list of past award recipients, including Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Chaim Potok, Myla Goldberg, Dara Horn, Nicole Krauss, and Julie Orringer, as well as last year's award winner, David Bezmozgis. Established over 50 years ago, in 1963, by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford to honor the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of The Pawnbroker and other works of fiction, the Wallant Award is today one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. It is presented to a Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew.

In 2015, the Greenberg Center celebrated the publication of a Wallant Award anthology of past winners and finalists, titled The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction, edited by Victoria Aarons (Trinity University), Mark Shechner (University at Buffalo) and Avinoam Patt (University of Hartford). The New Diaspora, published by Wayne State University Press, brings together under one cover a representative group of those writers whose work has either won or been considered for the award. In recognition of the trajectory and development of American Jewish writing in the 50 years since the award was established, the volume reflects the breadth and ongoing vitality of the fiction written by and about Jews in America. For more information on The New Diaspora, see: http://wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/new-diaspora

Submission Guidelines

New submissions are welcomed annually. The deadline for submissions is November 1 of each calendar year. For more information, please contact Avinoam Patt, Ph.D., Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History and Coordinator of the Wallant Award Committee at the University of Hartford at MGCJS@hartford.edu.

Past Recipients
YEAR AUTHOR TITLE
2014 David Bezmozgis The Betrayers
2013 Kenneth Bonert The Lion Seeker
2012 Joshua Henkin The World Without You
2011 Edith Pearlman Binocular Vision
2010 Julie Orringer The Invisible Bridge
2009 Sara Houghteling Pictures at an Exhibition
2008 Eileen Pollack In the Mouth
2007 Ehud Havazelet Bearing the Body
2006 No Award
2005 Nicole Krauss The History of Love
2004 Jonathan Rosen Joy Comes in the Morning
2003 Joan Leegant An Hour in Paradise
2002 Dara Horn In the Image
2001 Myla Goldberg Bee Season
2000 Judy Budnitz If I Told You Once
1999 Allegra Goodman Kaaterskill Falls
1998 No Award
1997 Harvey Grossinger The Quarry
1996 Thane Rosenbaum Elijah Visible
1995 Rebecca Goldstein Mazel
1994 No Award
1993 Gerald Shapiro From Hunger
1992 Melvin Jules Bukiet Stories of an Imaginary Childhood
1991 No Award
1990 No Award
1989 Jerome Badanes The Final Opus of Leon Solomon
1988 Tova Reich Master of the Return
1987 Steve Stern Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven
1986 Daphne Merkin Enchantment
1985 Jay Neuseboren Before My Life Begins
1984 No Award
1983 Francine Prose Hungry Hearts
1982 No Award
1981 Allen Hoffman Kaganís Superfecta
1980 Johanna Kaplan O My America
1979 No Award
1978 No Award
1977 Curt Leviant The Yemenite Girl
1976 No Award
1975 Anne Bernays Growing Up Rich
1974 Susan Fromberg Schaeffer Anya
1973 Arthur A. Cohen In the Days of Simon Stern
1972 Robert Kotlowitz Somewhere Else
1971 Cynthia Ozick The Pagan Rabbi
1970 No Award
1969 Leo Litwak Waiting for the News
1968 No Award
1967 Chaim Potok The Chosen
1966 Gene Hurwitz Home Is Where You Start From
1965 Hugh Nissenson A Pile of Stones
1964 Seymour Epstein Leah
1963 Norman Fruchter Coat Upon a Stick
About the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies

The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies is devoted to teaching and original research in Judaic Studies from the Biblical to the modern periods. Faculty from around the world have created programs that are diverse and stimulating to the student body.

Founded in 1985 by a major endowment, the Center offers you an opportunity to choose from a rich array of exciting classes in six different areas: History, Bible, Jewish Law and Literature, Hebrew and Yiddish.

As part of the Greenberg Center’s Spring 2015 schedule, The Betrayers will also be taught as part of Professor Avinoam Patt’s JS/ENG 324W, Modern Jewish Literature. The class meets on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 11:30am-12:30pm.