Page 20 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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The Jewish Book Council works in a kind of freewheeling
way, of which I have some knowledge because I have had the
honor of serving as a judge for a number of years. Other judges
have included such prominent American Jewish writers as the
late Ludwig Lewisohn; the late Leo W. Schwarz; the well-known
literary critic Irving Howe; the late lamented critic David Boroff;
Elie Wiesel; short story writer Hugh Nissenson; the brilliant
Cynthia Ozick; veteran Jewish novelist Meyer Levin; the schol­
arly Trude Weiss-Rosmarin; the rabbi and poet A. Alan Stein-
bach; the Yiddish historian and critic Sol Liptzin; Rabbis Morti­
mer J. Cohen, Ely E. Pilchik and Judah Stampfer, who is himself
a novelist. Charles Angoff, who is a critic, academician, poet,
editor and novelist, has been a frequent judge. On this basis, it
is clear that the selectors have included sensitive, knowledgeable
men and women who follow closely Jewish creative writing.
It might be wise at this point to spell out a few of the condi­
tions and limitations of the award which for many years was
called the Harry and Ethel Daroff Memorial Fiction Award and
in recent years has become the William and Janice Epstein
Award for Jewish Fiction. The authors must be residents or
citizens of the United States or Canada and the books considered
must have been published in the English language even though
they may have been originally translated from other languages.
Reprints and new editions of books and anthologies are not
Looking back over the 27 years of winners, it is easy to under­
stand why certain titles have attracted the judges but it is also
sometimes puzzling to the general reader to fathom the minds of
those judges. Some of the choices have been controversial and
have perturbed the general Jewish community. It is also obvious
that many popular or significant Jewish writers are missing from
the list of recipients. Moreover, the rule makes it impossible for
any author to be given the award more than twice, and this may
eliminate a writer like Charles Angoff or Meyer Levin or anyone
else who may produce a brilliant work of fiction in a given year
but is ineligible simply because of the limitation set years ago.
For the sake of the record and further clarification, here are
the winners. In 1948, the first winner was Howard Fast for
Glorious Brothers.
The others follow in order, except as indi­
cated: 1949,
The Wall
by John Hersey; 1950,
The Testament