THE SEVENTH WELL by Fred Wander, translated by Michael Hoffman (Granta), has won this year’s Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, beating Zoe Heller’s The Believers and Jackie Wullschlager’s celebrated biography of Chagall.
Commenting on the winning book Will Skidelsky, chair of the judging panel, said:
“Of the six books shortlisted for this year's prize, Fred Wander's The Seventh Well was the one that stood out as a possible masterpiece, and our excitement at discovering it was all the greater because so little was known about the book, or its author (who died just under three years ago), in this country. A short, highly autobiographical novel that draws on Wander's experiences of incarceration in several concentration camps, it is a work that combines considerable formal sophistication with great purity of expression, and by these means achieves the feat of doing justice to the horrors of the Holocaust while foregrounding the humanity of its victims. “
Former winners include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks, WG Sebald, and Etgar Keret.
This year’s judging panel was Julie Burchill, Will Skidelsky, Nick Viner and Francesca Segal.
The 2009 shortlist was as follows:
Amir Gutfreund – The World a Moment Later (Toby Press)
Zoë Heller – The Believers (Fig Tree)
Ladislaus Löb – Dealing with Satan (Jonathan Cape)
Denis MacShane – Globalising Hatred (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Jackie Wullschlager - Chagall: Love and Exile (Allen Lane)
Established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize is now in its 31st year. The winner of the 2009 prize will receive £4,000.
Jewish and non-Jewish authors resident in the UK, British Commonwealth, Europe and Israel are eligible. Books submitted must be in English, either originally or in translation.