Authors Philippe Sands and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen have been announced as joint winners of the 2017 Jewish Quarterly Wingate literary prize.
The judges said they selected Mr Sands’ part-memoir, part documentary East West Street; On the Origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Ms Gundar-Goshen’s novel Waking Lions, “as they both explore what it means to be human today”.
Mr Sands, whose mother was born in Vienna and survived the war as a "hidden child" in France, said it was “a humbling privilege” to be awarded the honour, which comes with £4,000 prize money.
He said: “All the more so in its 40th year, and alongside Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, whose work I so deeply admire and enjoy.”
Of his own work he said: “East West Street is an intensely personal book, written with a multitude of purposes.
“In the writing I can hardly claim that it was my intention to offer an idea of Jewishness to a general reader, but I can see how in the result that consequence might have arisen.”
Israeli author Ms Gundar-Goshen said she was honoured to be awarded the prize.
“The Jewish culture is a huge mountain, more than 2,000 years old, and I’m pleased to be a grain of sand on this mountain,” she said.
The annual award selects the best book or books of Jewish interest for the general reader, from both fiction and non-fiction categories.
This year’s judging panel included Amy Rosenthal, Granta Best, Joanna Kavenna, and Natasha Lehrer.
Bryan Cheyette, Professor of Modern Literature at Reading University, and chair of judges, said: “Sands has undertaken a forensic exploration of how you can bring barbarism to account under law to challenge it and banish it, whereas in Gundar-Goshen’s novel we enter a world where barbarism exists side by side with civilization.
“The judges enjoyed both books immensely.”
Speaking of East West Street, Prof Cheyette said “it is such a tremendously accomplished and beautifully written work”.
He added the memoir was “important on so many levels” as “a history of the term genocide and of why human rights are crucial today”.
He said Waking Lions was “an incredibly compelling and enjoyable read which tackles an unsettling issue which engages with the ethical core of present-day Israel”.
The JQ Wingate prize is run in partnership with JW3.