Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Some of the authors were nationally known or world famed
before they won the Jewish Book Council award. Bernard Mala-
mud is now famous but was far less known in 1957 when he won
with
The Assistant.
Leon Uris became the author of a best
seller with
Exodus.
Philip Roth was fairly obscure before the
publication of
Goodbye, Columbus;
Isaac Bashevis Singer by
1962 was an internationally recognized novelist and short story
writer. Elie Wiesel in 1964 already had some of his best work
behind him. Cynthia Ozick’s name still is familiar to a limited
group and Robert Kotlowitz, Francine Prose, Joanne Greenberg,
Samuel Yellen, remain vague names in popular fiction and have
not really broken through in a major way except perhaps for
Joanne Greenberg who, as Hannah Green, wrote
I Never
Promised You a Rose Garden.
Jean Karsavina, the most recent winner, is far from popular.
Edward Lewis Wallant, on the other hand, gained real impetus
when
The Human Season
was cited. I t called attention to his
brilliance and he continued to produce meaningful and symbolic
novels until he was suddenly and cruelly cut down by death at
the age of thirty-six. Charles Angoff, Zelda Popkin, Michael
Blankfort, Louis Zara, Meyer Levin, Jo Sinclair, are veteran
novelists who have commanded attention in the “wide” world,
yet it must have been satisfying to them to have won the approba­
tion of the established Jewish community through the Jewish
Book Council award.
How many of these novels were read beyond their season and
are still appreciated today? Put another way, how many of these
novels remain unread and forgotten? I would guess that
Quiet
Street, The Testament of the Lost Son, The Juggler, Blessed Is
The Land, Changelings, Raquel, The Wedding Band, The
King’s Persons, The Stronghold, The Well, Waiting for the News,
Somewhere Else, Judah the Pious—
and I didn’t mention the cur­
rent one because it is too recent—are books which are not widely
read and have not, by and large, appeared in paperback.
Some of the winners didn’t need the added attraction of win­
ning another prize. John Hersey’s
The Wall
made an enormous
impression in 1949.
The Assistant
made Malamud’s reputation
and while it certainly didn’t hurt to win the Book Council award,
The Assistant
won its own way. Today all of Malamud’s books
are available in paperback and in hardback. Leon Uris’s
Exodus