Otto Dov Kulka took home British Jewry’s top literary award, the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize, on Wednesday night for his memoir Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death.
The Czech-born Israeli historian was presented with the award, and a £4,000 money prize, at a ceremony at Kings Place in London during Jewish Book Week. Previous winners include Amos Oz, Sadie Smith, and Shalom Auslander, who won last year for his novel Hope: A Tragedy.
Mr Dov Kulka's book, which has been translated from Hebrew by Ralph Mandel, beat Yudit Kiss, Ben Marcus, Anouk Markovits and Edith Pearlman for the top honour. It explores the indelible marks left on the author by a childhood spent in Theresienstadt – and, later, Auschwitz.
Chair of the judging panel Rachel Lasserson said: “In Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, Otto Dov Kulka achieves the impossible: a mythological and strangely beautiful new language for living with Auschwitz.”
She added that the book was “as mighty as it was modest”.
Mr Dov Kulka received the award immediately following his Jewish Book Week session with Simon Schama, in which he revealed he was still haunted by memories and images of the Holocaust.