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 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: 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.

2014 Recipient - David Bezmozgis

The 2014 Edward Lewis Wallant Award recipient is David Bezmozgis, for his novel, The Betrayers.

For a recent interview with David on The Betrayers , see:

http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/_blog/The_ProsenPeople/post/interview-david-bezmozgis/ http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/_blog/The_ProsenPeople/post/intervJoshua Henkiniew-kenneth-bonert-the-lion-seeker/

Bezmozgis, who was born in Riga, Latvia, but currently lives in Toronto, is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harpers, Zoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus. His first book, Natasha and Other Stories, was published in 2004 in the US and Canada and was subsequently translated into 15 languages. In the summer of 2010, Bezmozgis was included in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 issue, celebrating the 20 most promising fiction writers under the age of forty. Bezmozgis has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a Radcliffe Fellow.

The Free World, Bezmozgis’ first novel, was published in 2011 in the U.S. Canada, the UK, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Israel and Spain. It was a New York Times Notable Book for 2011 and a Globe and Mail Best Books Title for 2011. It was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank/Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award, The Trillium Prize, and won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

The Betrayers, his second novel, presents one momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the settlements in the West Bank, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior, and the besieged couple escapes to Yalta, the faded Crimean resort of Kotler’s youth. There, shockingly, Kotler comes face-to-face with the former friend whose denunciation sent him to the Gulag almost 40 years earlier. In a whirling 24 hours, Kotler must face the ultimate reckoning, both with those who have betrayed him and with those whom he has betrayed, including a teenage daughter, a son facing his own moral dilemma in the Israeli army, and the wife who once campaigned to secure his freedom and stood by him through so much. Reviewers have unanimously praised the novel:

• “Now that Philip Roth has finished his life’s work, let us turn our attention to David Bezmozgis. His bravery and style are off the charts, and The Betrayers is his finest, slyest, most robust work yet.” —Gary Shteyngart

• “Mr. Bezmozgis accomplishes the higher task of understanding and humanizing his character’s creeds. A reminder that good fiction aspires not only to be timely but timeless, The Betrayers illuminates old, stubborn arguments that usually inspire only heat and noise.” —The Wall Street Journal

• “Bezmozgis has given us a complex moral thriller with weighty political implications.” —The New Republic

• “This unforgettable novel squanders no words in its brilliant, deft depictions of love, of memory, of compassion—and, ultimately, despite its title, of loyalty.” —Edith Pearlman

• “The Betrayers suggests that Bezmozgis may potentially be one of the most important writers of his generation.” —The Independent

• “The Betrayers is the rare book that makes being Jewish feel not just like a fate or a burden, but a great opportunity.” —Tablet Magazine

This year, the Greenberg Center has also named three finalists for the 2014 Wallant Award: Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans; Boris Fishman, author of A Replacement Life; and David Shrayer-Petrov (ed. Maxim Shrayer), Dinner with Stalin and Other Stories. In naming three additional finalists for the award this year, the Greenberg Center is acknowledging the considerable vitality of contemporary Jewish literature in North America, and the significant impact of Jewish writers from the former Soviet Union.

Antopol, a lecturer at Stanford University, has been recognized as a recipient of the “5 Under 35” award by the National Book Foundation. The UnAmericans, also nominated for a National Book Award, is her debut story collection, taking readers from America to Israel to the Soviet Union in critical moments of the last century.

Fishman was born in Minsk in 1979, and emigrated to the United States in 1988. His debut novel, A Replacement Life, chronicles the efforts of a failed journalist asked to do the unthinkable: forge Holocaust-restitution claims for old Russian Jews in Brooklyn, New York.

Shrayer-Petrov, a well-known contemporary Russian American writer and medical scientist, was born in Leningrad in 1936 and immigrated to the United States in 1987. Dinner with Stalin is a collection of 14 short stories set in the former Soviet Union that feature Soviet Jews grappling with issues of identity, acculturation, assimilation, and persecution.

The Wallant Award presentation ceremony will be held on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Mandell Jewish Community Center of Greater Hartford as part of the book launch event for The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction, an anthology of selections by past Wallant Award winners and finalists.

For more information on The New Diaspora, see: http://wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/new-diaspora

Bezmozgis will join past honorees Joshua Henkin (the 2012 Wallant Award for The World Without You) and Eileen Pollack (the 2008 Wallant Award for In the Mouth) for a panel discussion that will be moderated by Avinoam Patt of the Greenberg Center. Reservations and tickets are required. Please call 860.236.6316 to purchase tickets for the event, which will be held in Wilde Auditorium in the Gilman Theater at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

On March 2, 2015, the Greenberg Center will celebrate 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.

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
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.