Israeli writer Yaniv Iczkovits wins Wingate Literary Prize

Author bags award for ‘The Slaughterman’s Daughter’, set in a 19th century shtetl in the Russian Pale


 Israeli writer Yaniv Iczkovits has won the £4,000 Wingate Literary Prize for his “wonderful” novel set in a 19th century shtetl in the Russian Pale, The Slaughterman’s Daughter.
The novel - the author’s third  - tells the story of Fanny Keismann, a slaughterman’s daughter and mum-of-five who embarks on a perilous journey across czarist Russia with eccentric ferryman Zizek Breshov to trace her missing brother-in-law.
It was chosen from a shortlist of seven books. They include Hadley Freeman’s family memoir House of Glass and We are the Weather, a non-fiction book about veganism by the US novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.
The annual award - whose previous recipients include David Grossman and Zadie Smith - recognises the best books able to “translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.”

Mr Iczkovits, 46, said he felt “truly honoured to have even been shortlisted” and described the “truly exceptional” joy of receiving the accolade.

He said his Jewish roots had inspired him to write the book. “I wanted to tell a story about a lost world, but I realized that nothing is really lost. 
“History and circumstances can destroy an entire civilization. But character and determination, such as Fanny’s and Zizek’s, allow us to reimagine reality in different forms. I thank the judges of the Wingate Prize for allowing my protagonists to speak louder.”
Judge Rabbi Janner-Klausner said the decision was “unanimous”. 
“It is epic literature with an excellent translation.  At the same time, it is also a fantastic, surprising romp through a really important part of Jewish history, with an amazingly unpredictable storyline. 
“In a post-Holocaust world, reading a book about Jewish shtetl life which is at the same time, funny, shocking and entrancing, enables someone who is not Jewish to understand so much of what makes us tick. The Slaughterman’s Daughter is like your closest friend that you want to show off to everyone because you want people to see how special they are,” she said.

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