Five finalists have been selected for the new USD 100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, announced the Jewish Book Council - the administrator of the Prize. The winner will be announced in mid-March.
The Prize is the largest-ever Jewish literary prize given, and is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation. Sami Rohr's children and grandchildren established it to celebrate Mr. Rohr's 80th birthday--and to honor his lifelong love of Jewish writing.
Each year, a prize of USD 100,000 will be presented to an emerging writer whose work, of exceptional literary merit, stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern.
"One of the goals we wish to accomplish through the creation of the Sami Rohr Prize is the establishment of an elite corps of writers of Jewish literature from all over the world," said Geri Gindea, director of the program, which operates as a department of the Jewish Book Council.
"This Prize will also help bring to light the emerging voices of today's Jewish writers, their own journeys, and their own unique experiences living as Jews in the modern world," Gindea continued.
The five finalists are:
Naomi Alderman of England for Disobedience (Free Press)
Amir Gutfreund of Israel for Our Holocaust (Toby Press)
Yael Hedaya of Israel for Accidents (Metropolitan Books)
Michael Levigne of San Francisco, CA, for Not Me (Random House)
Tamar Yellin of England for The Genizah at the House of Shepher (Toby Press).
In order to fully nurture quality Jewish writing, the Rohr family will also establish - in conjunction with the Sami Rohr Prize - the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, a forum devoted to the continuity of Jewish literature.
The Institute, also run under the auspices of the Jewish Book Council, will convene a biennial gathering, creating an environment in which established and emerging writers can meet and exchange ideas and perspectives.
"The Institute will be an ideal forum for authors to connect, share experiences, and create a community of writers of Jewish literature," Gindea said. "Through the Institute, we also hope to close the gap between generations of established and new writers."
An independent panel of judges will convene annually to select the winner of the Prize and two institute fellows (each of whom will receive USD 7,500). Fiction and non-fiction books will be considered in alternating years.
The inaugural award for a writer of fiction will be celebrated at a gala event to be held in May at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan.
About Sami Rohr
After spending his early years in Europe after World War II, Sami Rohr moved to Bogota, Colombia, where he became a leading real estate developer for more than 30 years.
He continues to be very active in various business endeavors internationally. His philanthropic commitment to Jewish education and community building throughout the world is renowned.