Canadian Jewish Literary Awards 2018 winners to be celebrated Oct. 14 at York University

The Canadian Jewish Literary Awards is honouring eight outstanding books for 2018. Now in its fourth year, the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards recognizes and rewards the finest Canadian Jewish writing.

Winners have been declared in the following categories: fiction, memoir/biography, poetry, history, scholarship, holocaust literature, Yiddish, and books for children and youth.
“The award winners this year are Jewish and non-Jewish. They come from communities right across the country, and both young writers and more established writers are represented,” says jury chair, Edward Trapunski. “The depth and breadth show the vibrancy of the culture and the appeal of Jewish themes for fiction and non-fiction writers.”

The awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 14, at 2 p.m., in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, Keele Campus All are welcome and admission is free. Authors will read from their works and a dessert reception will follow. The award-winning books will be available for purchase and the authors will autograph their books

The books and authors honoured are:

The Ghost Keeper by Natalie Morrill. (HarperCollins Patrick Crean Editions)
Natalie Morrill’s The Ghost Keeper is a lyrical and moving first novel about a young Jewish boy who grows up in Vienna and finds himself and his faith in tending to the city’s old Jewish cemeteries. It is a story about memory, friendship and the terrible choices that people make to survive.

To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen’s Account of a War Criminal Trial by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz, (Second Story Press)
After visiting Auschwitz on the March for the Living, a program that brings teenagers to see the infamous concentration camp for themselves, Jordana Lebowitz was determined to attend the trial of the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, the last Nazi to stand trial for the atrocities. Along with Kathy Kacer, in To Look a Nazi in the Eye she recounts her complicated emotions at witnessing the cruelty of an old man who reminded her of her grandfather.

The Panic Room by Rebecca Păpucaru (Nightwood Editions)
Rebecca Păpacaru’s poetic range in The Panic Room is expansive and impressive. Assembled in a sophisticated arc, it holds together as a book, not just a series of poems. The thematic linkages, word choices and concepts are evidence of the way a novel’s character changes over time, rather than a series of snapshots. The range of identifying references to Judaism, Jews and Jewishness — historic, psycho-spiritual, and religious — leave you with a range of inter-ethnic encounters which are a challenge to unpack and makes the experience of Canada ring true.

In Your Words: Translations from the Yiddish and the Hebrew by Seymour Mayne (Ronald P. Frye & Co.)
With In Your Words, University of Ottawa professor, Seymour Mayne, gives an English life to the works of Yiddish poets Rachel Korn, Melech Ravitch and Abraham Sutzkver with his poetic sensibility and his ear for a melodic and expressive language. Korn and Ravitch were major figures in Montreal’s Yiddish literary and intellectual life and here they are celebrated and not forgotten.

Jabotinsky’s Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism by Daniel Kupfert Heller (Princeton University Press)
Daniel Kupfert Heller’s Jabotinsky’s Children offers an elegantly written, impeccably researched, and sophisticated study of the Jewish entanglements with right and far-right ideologies, rhetorics and organizing strategies among revisionist Zionist leaders and a segment of Jewish Polish youth in the 1930s. Daniel Heller is senior lecturer in East European Jewish History at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization in Melbourne and Adjunct Professor at McGill University.

Histoire des Juifs du Québec by Pierre Anctil (Les éditions du Boréal)
Pierre Anctil, professor of history at the University of Ottawa, is the ultimate authority on the Jewish community in Quebec. Using French and Yiddish sources, this book in French, Histoire des Juifs du Québec, shows how the Jews of Montreal were shaped both by their traditional Jewish values and by the socioeconomic and cultural touchstones of Quebecois society. The book offers a dynamic portrayal of the public, political and community interactions between Québec society and the Jews from the early XVI Century until today.

Autorité ultime en ce qui concerne la communauté juive au Québec, Pierre Anctil, professeur titulaire au Département d’histoire de l’Université d’Ottawa, nous offre ici dans L’Histoire des Juifs du Québec (Les éditions du Boréal) le livre qui restera la référence pour toutes les interactions publiques, politiques et communautaires entre la société québécoise et les Juifs. Depuis les premières implantations au XVII siècle jusqu’à aujourd’hui, avec toutes les variations géographiques et sociétales, le texte offre une image dynamique de l’évolution des relations intercommunautaires.

Holocaust Literature
In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust by Max Wallace (Allen Lane/PenguinRandom House Canada)
With In the Name of Humanity, journalist Max Wallace makes a compelling and provocative contribution to the vast archive of books documenting the twentieth century’s seminal event. In a fast-paced narrative based on years of historical research, Wallace meticulously documents the complex backstage negotiations between Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler and an improbable cast of characters — including an orthodox Jewish couple living in Switzerland — that succeeded in saving thousands of Jews from certain death.

Children and Youth
Fania’s Heart by Anne Renaud (author) and Richard Rudnicki (illustrator) (Second Story Press)

A tiny heart-shaped book is crafted against all odds within the confines of Auschwitz by women of immeasurable resilience, courage, and loyalty. Fania’s Heart is tenderly written by Anne Renaud and movingly illustrated by Richard Rudnicki. This vivid and resonant picture book tells an authentic, heartwarming story that is a microcosm of Jewish survival during the Holocaust. Because of the mutual support and ingenuity of a group of friends, one survivor is eventually able to share her memories — and her inspiring keepsake.

The Canadian Jewish Literary Awards are hosted and sponsored by the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University.

The Canadian Jewish Literary Awards Jury for 2018

  • Edward Trapunski, Chair
  • Alain Goldschläger
  • Andrea Knight
  • David Koffman
  • Arlene Perly Rae
  • Michael Posner

To register for the awards ceremony, go to For more information, visit