}

Envy and Celebration Last Night in Battery Park City

One More Year

One More Year

The Jewish guy did not win American Idol. The Israelis did not win at Eurovision. And the Norwegian Eurovision winner, although born in Minsk, and though he starred in Fiddler on the Roof in Norway, is most likely not MOT. Yet, I had the honor of attending the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature awards ceremony in New York City’s Battery Park City last night, under the auspices of the Jewish Book Council. Celebration was everywhere, and maybe some microscopic envy. The 2009 Prize was conferred upon Sana Krasikov. In addition to the honor of receiving the award, and becoming a member of the community of past winners, Ms Krasikov received a nice glass plaque, …oh, and a check for $100,000 (US$) for her debut short story collection, “One More Year.”
Growing up in Iran

Growing up in Iran

Dalia Sofer, author of “The Septembers of Shiraz,” received the 2009 Sami Rohr Prize Choice Award. It also came with a plaque, and $25,000.

Sana Krasikov was born in Ukraine and was raised in the FSU Republic of Georgia, as well as the United States. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. “One More Year”, her debut collection, consists of stories about people who hold out hope, despite the odds, that life will be kind to them. Most of the characters are women, some newly arrived immigrants to America, some in Russia, and others in Georgia. There are stories in which mothers decide to leave children behind, and children abandon their parents. The characters seek love, or something that can substitute or look like love.

Probably because the Krasikov’s background, the event was filled with many immigrants from the Former Soviet Union. In addition to them, there were doctors (Dr. Ruth Westheimer), Rabbis (Lookstein, Buchwald, and Telushkin, to name just three), reviewers (Brawarsky), philanthropists (the Rohr family, Ms. Everett), and dozens of Jewish authors. There was also some great kosher sushi, great views, and itty bitty brownies.

If any pattern can be gleaned from the fictional works that were among the five finalists, it would be that four of the five the authors are immigrants (Maybe because one of the judges read many of the nominees while vacationing from Jerusalem in another walled city: Rhodes, or maybe because some of the best works are driven by the stress of immigration and outsiderness).

The 2009 FICTION FINALISTS were: Elisa Albert for “The Book of Dahlia” (Free Press); Sana Krasikov for “One More Year” (Spiegel & Grau); Anne Landsman for “The Rowing Lesson” (Soho Press); Dalia Sofer for “The Septembers of Shiraz” (Ecco); and Anya Ulinich for “Petropolis “(Viking Penguin). Oh wait. And all five finalists were Jewish women. Complain about that, Portnoy!

Elisa Albert’s (Jewcy.com) “The Book of Dahlia” is about Dahlia, a sarcastic, 29 year old, self-absorbed Jewish American Princess living in a Los Angeles area beach bungalow, smoking pot, and dealing with a brain tumor. In Anne Landsman’s semi autobiographical “The Rowing Lesson,” Betsy Klein is pregnant, empathetic and exasperated, when she is called to return to South Africa to her comatose father’s bedside. Sofer’s “The Septembers of Shiraz,” recreates Jewish life in her native Iran. (Sadly, the author’s father, who inspired so much of the novel, passed away in the past two weeks). And Russian-born Anya Ulinich’s funny story “Petropolis” is about a Russian mail-order bride, Sasha Goldberg, trying to find her place in America. (Which is worse and what is home? Phoenix or Siberia?)

Sami Rohr, for whom the prize is named, resides in Miami, where he is a philanthropist. For over 30 years, he was a leading real estate developer in Bogota, Colombia.

Best wishes to the finalists and winners. Now “Go and Read.”

1 Comment

  1. Vicki

    5/23/2009 at 8:06 am

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