Personal Holocaust story on Man Booker longlist

By Jennifer Lipman, July 27, 2011
Alison Pick

Alison Pick

A novel about a Jewish family during the Holocaust by an author who only recently discovered her Jewish heritage could take home this year's Man Booker prize.

The longlist for the prestigious literary prize, worth £50,000, was announced yesterday. One of the 13 books selected is by Canadian author Alison Pick.

Ms Pick, who has converted to Reform Judaism, found out as an adult that her grandparents had escaped the Czech Republic during the Holocaust.

Once in Canada they lived as Christians, and Ms Pick's father only discovered the truth when a Prague tour guide commented on his Jewish name.

Her book, Far To Go, tells the story of the Bauers, a secular Jewish Czech family against the background of the Nazi invasion of the country.

The book follows the antisemitism of the time and the family's personal struggles, as well as the experience of a child's escape to England on the Kindertransport. In a review in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, it was described as "not your ordinary Holocaust novel".

Ms Pick told The Forward that she wanted to explore the historical circumstances her grandparents had lived in. However she said that beyond the surface details "the fate of the characters is very different from my grandparents' eventual fate".

The judging panel, chaired by the former chief of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington, will announce the shortlist on September 6.

Last year's winner, for the comic novel The Finkler Question, was Howard Jacobson. Sales of the book were boosted by his win; more than 250,000 copies have been sold in the UK alone.

Last updated: 9:39am, July 27 2011