Elizabeth McCracken wins the Wingate Literary Prize 2024

Elizabeth McCracken has been announced as the winner of this year’s Wingate Literary Prize for The Hero of this Book (Jonathan Cape).

The Hero of This Book is a taut, ground-breaking novel about a writer’s relationship with her larger-than-life Jewish mother – and about the very nature of writing.

Ten months after her mother’s death, the narrator takes a trip to London. The city was a favourite of her mother’s, and as the narrator walks from Clerkenwell to the London Eye, from Tate Modern to the Bridge Theatre, she finds herself reflecting on her mother’s life and their relationship.

The Hero of This Book is a searing examination of grief and renewal, and of a deeply felt relationship between a child and her parents. What begins as a question of filial devotion ultimately becomes a lesson in what it means to write. At once comic and heartbreaking, with prose that delights at every turn, this is a novel of piercing love and tenderness.

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of five books and was chosen as one of Granta’s 20 Best American Writers Under 40. She has served on the faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently holds the James Michener Chair for Fiction at the University of Texas at Austin.

The judges said: 

‘In a timely and timeless fashion, McCracken’s powerful writing lets you be privy to secrets you just want to shout about. A thoroughly involving read that wrestles with memory, illness, place and identity; The Hero of This Book is moving in every sense.’

The winner was announced at an event with JW3, featuring Emily Kasriel, Trustee of the Wingate Foundation in conversation with the judges. 
Now in its 47th year, the annual prize, worth £4,000 and run in association with JW3, is awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader. The Wingate Prize is the only UK literary prize of its kind and attracts nominations from all over the globe. Previous winners include Amos Oz, Zadie Smith, Oliver Sacks, David Grossman and Nicole Krauss. 

This year’s judging panel was comprised of the chair, Benjamin Markovits, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Natasha Solomons and Rabbi Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz.


Press information: Anna Pallai anna@ampliterary.co.uk / 07971 496 227

Follow the Wingate Literary Prize on Twitter @Wingateprize and on Instagram @The_Wingate_Prize

Notes to editors

Judges’ Biographies – Wingate Literary Prize 2024

Ashley Hickson-Lovence

Ashley Hickson-Lovence is a novelist and Lecturer of Creative Writing. He is a former secondary school English teacher and has recently completed his PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia. His debut novel The 392 was published with OWN IT! in 2019. His second novel Your Show was released with Faber in 2022 and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards. His third book, a young adult novel-in-verse called Wild East, is to be released with Penguin in May 2024.

Benjamin Markovits

Benjamin Markovits grew up in Texas, London and Berlin. He is the author of eleven novels including Either Side of Winter, You Don’t Have to Live Like This, and Christmas in Austin.  He has published essays, poetry, stories and reviews on subjects ranging from the Romantics to American sports in The Guardian, Granta, The Paris Review and The New York Times, among others.  In 2013 Granta selected him as one of their Best of Young British Novelists and in 2015 he won the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.  He lives in London and teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Natasha Solomons

Natasha Solomons is the author of five internationally bestselling novels, including Mr Rosenblum’s List, The Novel in the Viola, which was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and The Gallery of Vanished Husbands. Natasha lives in Dorset with her son, daughter and her husband, the children’s author, David Solomons with whom she also writes screenplays. Her novels have been translated into 17 languages. When not writing in the studio, Natasha can usually be found in her garden.

Rabbi Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz

Rabbi Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz received her doctorate from University College London. She has just finished two years as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester, investigating the history and development of Limmud Festival one of the UK’s biggest celebrations of Jewish life and learning, and has lectured at several universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, and Vassar College, New York. She has taught at the London School of Jewish Studies since 2005 and is a Research Fellow there. In 2019 she founded the Pop-Up Beit Midrash, and in 2021 she received Orthodox rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Maharat, New York. Her first book, Challenge and Conformity: The Religious Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women, was published by the Littman LIbrary of Jewish Civilization in 2021, and she is now preparing a book on Limmud.

The Wingate Literary Prize was established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate. It is now run in association with JW3, the Jewish Community Centre. The winner receives £4,000. 

The Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation is a private grant-giving institution, established over forty years ago. 

London-based JW3 is the only Jewish Arts and Community Centre of its kind in the UK – a vibrant hub for Jewish arts, culture, learning and life where everyone is welcome. The award-winning building hosts a café, cinema, theatre space, classrooms and rehearsal space.

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