Nicole Krauss’s first short story collection To Be A Man has won the 2022 Wingate Literary Prize.
Spanning continents and written over a period 18 years, the ten unsettling stories shift between explorations of intimacy and the vast weight of history.
Making their choice, the judges described the book as a staggering, powerful work, ‘original and beautifully written’. They praised the stories for cohering as a collection but also standing alone – all colliding with what it means to be Jewish.
It was chosen from a short list which also included At Night’s End by Nir Baram, translated by Jessica Cohen; Letters to Camondo by Edmund de Waal; Judaism for the World by Arthur Green; The Ravine by Wendy Lower; The Last Interview by Eshkol Nevo, translated by Sondra Silverston, and Ethel Rosenberg by Anne Sebba.
Now in its 45th year, the annual Wingate Literary 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.
This year’s judging panel comprised New Statesman political editor Stephen Bush; Senior Rabbi of the S&P UK Sephardi Community, Rabbi Joseph Dweck; award-winning novelist and short story writer M.J. Hyland and Women’s Prize longlisted author and journalist Jemma Wayne.
Speaking about the panel’s choice of winner, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, chair of the judges, said: ‘In a short list of seven excellent books, Nicole Krauss’s To Be A Man is a collection of remarkable stories. It is a contemporary and beautiful piece of writing, which is original in its approach and cohesive as a collection.
‘In each story the themes emerged organically and we particularly admired the fact that the subject matter supported the literature rather than the literature being subordinate to it – a testament to Krauss’s special talent as a writer.’
In response to receiving the prize, Nicole Krauss commented ‘I am so honored to receive the Wingate Prize this year, and to be in the excellent company of the other short-listed writers. I thank the judges for their faith in my work.
‘At a time when antisemitism is everywhere on the rise, a dedication to Jewish themes and a deep engagement with the question of what it means to be Jewish feels as important as ever.’
Follow the Wingate Literary Prize on Twitter @Wingateprize