Words of the Week: Book-Award Announcements

While I was away in Israel last week, lots of Jewish book-award news broke. And another announcement came yesterday. Let’s review:

  • The 73rd National Jewish Book Awards. Lots of categories, lots of honors!
  • The 2024 Sydney Taylor Book Awards for “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” Again, do check the full list of honored titles for each category.
  • The 2024 Sophie Brody Medal, which “is given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature.” (This one is especially close to my heart because once upon a time, it gave my own Quiet Americans an honorable mention.) Per the announcement: “This year’s winner is James McBride, author of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Random House…. Honorable mentions include At The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by Tara Ison published by IG Books; Poland a Green Land: A Novel by Aharon Appelfeld [z”l; translated by Stuart Schoffman z”l] published by Schocken, an imprint of Penguin Random House; Unearthed: A Lost Actress, A Forbidden Book, and a Search for Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust by Meryl Frank, published by Hachette; Palestine, 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict by Oren Kessler, published by Rowman & Littlefield; and We Are Not Strangers by Josh Tuininga, published by Abrams Comicarts.
  • The 2024 Association of Jewish Libraries Fiction Award. This is the one that was announced yesterday. This year’s winner is The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC); honor titles are Kantika by Elizabeth Graver (Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company) and Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner (Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers).

Both the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and the Sophie Brody Medal announcements came alongside similar news from many other award programs clustered within the American Library Association (ALA); I haven’t yet managed to identify all of the “Jewish” books that have been recognized under those other award umbrellas, but if you’ve noted them, please share that news in comments. (I can tell you about one example: my friend Rebecca Klempner’s How to Welcome an Alien [illustrated by Shirley Waisman and published by Kalaniot Books] has received a Golden Duck Notable Picture Book nod from the ALA’s Core Committee Recognizing Excellence in Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction.)

Congratulations to all of the creators whose work has been recognized through these awards and honors. And an especially hearty Mazal Tov to Rebecca and to the many other friends/colleagues/acquaintances whose names appear on this year’s lists.

Especially right now, it’s important to pause and kvell.

Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

[Apologies to subscribers: This went out earlier than it should have. An error as I typed!]

This week I discovered that Amiram Cooper—a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz who, at 84, is among the oldest Israeli hostages captured by Hamas—is the author of three books of poetry and one children’s book (source: The Times of Israel). I’m trying to find out more, including whether his work has been translated into English. May he be returned home swiftly and safely.

And I learned that another Nir Oz resident, Israeli-American-Canadian Judih Weinstein Haggai—whose death was announced late last week and whose body remains captive in Gaza—was also a poet. You can find some of her work on her YouTube channel; you might begin with some poetry that she shared there last spring. May her memory—and that of her husband, Gadi Haggai, whose death was announced some days earlier—be a blessing.


Shabbat shalom.