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 Wallantís literary ability.

A panel of four 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: 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.

2013 Recipient - Kenneth Bonert

The 2013 Edward Lewis Wallant Award recipient is Kenneth Bonert, for his novel, The Lion Seeker.

For a recent interview with Ken, see: Henkiniew-kenneth-bonert-the-lion-seeker/

Kenneth Bonert’s short stories have appeared in Grain and the Fiddlehead. His story “Packers and Movers” was shortlisted for the Journey Prize and his novella “Peacekeepers, 1995” appeared in McSweeney’s. A one-time journalist, his articles have appeared in The Globe and Mail, the National Post and other publications. Born in South Africa, he now calls Toronto home. .

The Lion Seeker, which is Bonert’s first novel, tells the coming of age story of ill-fated Isaac Helger, a high school dropout striving to make a success of himself in the inner-city Johannesburg neighborhood of Doornfontein. Isaac is motivated by the desire to purchase a proper home for his mother, Gitelle, who immigrated to South Africa after being scarred during a pogrom in the family’s native Lithuania. Isaac confronts one challenge after another in his quest for redemption as the growing threat of the Second World War darkens Isaac’s world and threatens his extended family. In the novel, Bonert succeeds in bringing to life the world of South African Jewry in all its raw energy with an ear for dialogue that captures the bawdy vernacular of South Africa’s diverse population.

Reviewers have unanimously praised the novel, which was just named recipient of a National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction:

• Bonert’s writing is “sharp and masterful, clipping along at a breathless pace while still managing to wow us with imagery, clever turns of phrase and believable dialogue peppered with several languages,” Zoe Whittall, The Globe and Mail;

• “A remarkably assured debut, The Lion Seeker is a riveting, lyrical, and profound journey towards the intersection of private lives and public destinies. Kenneth Bonert has all the makings of a major novelist,” Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life and Times; and

•“The Lion Seeker is a powerful and thoroughly engrossing novel, grand in scope, richly imagined, full of dramatic incident, and crafted in a prose that is by turns rough-hewn and lyrical. To read it is to be reminded how great a great novel can be,” David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World and Natasha: And Other Stories.

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

Past Recipients
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 2013 schedule, The World Without You will also be taught as part of Feltman Professor Avinoam Patt's JS/ENG 325, American Jewish Novel. The class meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 12:30-1:20pm.

The 2013 Edward Lewis Wallant Award Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in Wilde Auditorium on the University of Hartford campus at 7:00pm. Free and open to the public. Reservations required. Call (860) 768-4964 for more information.