Shortlist unveiled for Wingate Prize

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Shortlist unveiled for Wingate Prize

Judges choose books by authors including Howard Jacobson, Benjamin Balint, Linda Grant and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen among others

Books (Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash)
Books (Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash)

Judges have produced a shortlist of seven books for one of the Jewish world’s foremost literary prizes, with the winner set to scoop £4,000.

The latest book by Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson made the Wingate Prize cut of shortlisted works “exploring the modern Jewish world as well as events of the past which impact the present”.

Another contender for the prize, now in its 43rd year, is Benjamin Balint’s new book on the battle for Franz Kafka’s manuscripts, showing how – awful though it was – the Third Reich was also “an episode in the story of Jewish creativity”.

Judges, led by panel chair Clive Lawton, recognised that shortlisting Linda Grant’s London-centred book ‘A Stranger City’ may be “radical” because her Jewish characters were “not at the centre of all stories” but “only one thread in the whole fabric of the novel… simply part of the picture of contemporary life”.

They said: “In many ways this may be truer to the normal experience of most Jews today, living within their world, sometimes explicitly Jewish but often simply just Jews among a mixed crowd.”

Grant’s Jewish characters were described as “both those easily recognisable and classic long-resident London Jews, as well as more exotic recent Jewish arrivals from Iran,” whereas the characters in Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s shortlisted book ‘Liar’ are set in Israel, where “hardly any of them fail to lie or act with complicity”.

The prize is awarded to “the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness”. Others in the mix this year include ‘Inheritance’ by Dani Shapiro, ‘Lake Success’ by Gary Shteyngart and ‘The Photographer at Sixteen’ by George Szirtes.

Alongside Lawton, the judging panel includes lecturer Roopa Farooki, barrister Philippe Sands and novelist Kim Sherwood. They said their task of creating a shortlist of six was “so difficult we came up with a shortlist of seven”.

Lawton, who co-founded Limmud, said: “Our primary criterion was excellent writing, but we also needed to feel that there was a rich story to tell and, of course, one which threw light on the realities of Jewish life.”

The winner will be announced at an event at JW3 on 16 March.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: