The ProsenPeople

2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Finalists

Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Permalink




CONTACT: Kathleen Zrelak
Goldberg McDuffie Communications

February 2011 (New York, NY) – The Jewish Book Council today named five finalists for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize in fiction for Jewish Literature, the largest monetary award of its kind given to writers of exceptional talent and promise in early career. Established in 2006, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature awards $100,000 to its top winner, with a $25,000 Choice Award given to its first runner-up.

Hailed as a transformative award for emerging writers, the annual Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature honors the contribution of contemporary writers in the exploration and transmission of Jewish values and is intended to encourage and promote outstanding writing of Jewish interest in the future. Fiction and non-fiction books are considered in alternate years.

Today’s announcement caps a year-long process of reviewing books by a select panel of judges. On March 15th, the finalists will meet with the fiction judges of the Sami Rohr Prize in New York, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. The 2011 award ceremony will be held in New York City on May 31.

This year’s finalists for the fifth annual Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature are:

Allison Amend – Stations West (Louisiana State University Press)
Nadia KalmanThe Cosmopolitans (Livingston Press)
Julie OrringerThe Invisible Bridge (Knopf)
Austin Ratner – The Jump Artist (Bellevue Literary Press)
Joseph Skibell –A Curable Romantic (Algonquin Books)

Previous winners of the Sami Rohr Prize include Sarah Abrevaya Stein, for her book Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce(Yale University Press) and Kenneth B. Moss for his book Jewish Renaissance in the Russian Revolution (Harvard University Press) in 2010; Sana Krasikov in 2009 for her story collection One More Year (Spiegel & Grau); Lucette Lagnado in 2008 for her nonfiction work The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (Ecco) and Tamar Yellin in 2007 for her novel, The Genizah at the House of Shepher (Toby Press).

The winners, finalists, judges and advisory board members of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature meet biennially at the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, a forum devoted to the continuity of Jewish literature. The Institute, run under the auspices of the Jewish Book Council, creates an environment in which established and emerging writers can meet and exchange ideas and perspectives. Within a short period of time, the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute has become an important meeting place for the leading lights of the American Jewish literary world.


After spending his early years in post WWII Europe, Sami Rohr moved to Bogota, Colombia, where he was a leading real estate developer for over 30 years. He currently lives in Florida and continues to be very active in various business endeavors internationally. His philanthropic commitment to Jewish education and community-building throughout the world is renowned. This prize is a gift by his family to honor his love of Jewish writing, and to help encourage the continuation of the magnificent legacy of the People of the Book.


The Jewish Book Council is a not-for-profit organization devoted exclusively to the promotion of Jewish-interest literature. Through an ever-growing list of projects and programs, including the National Jewish Book Awards, the Jewish Book NETWORK, and the quarterly publication Jewish Book World, the Jewish Book Council serves as a catalyst for the reading, writing, and publishing of books of Jewish interest.

For more information about The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, please visit our Awards page.

Hungry for Hungary

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Dani Crickman

Today marks one week until our Twitter Book Club with Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge. The book is full of all sorts of little details that bring the time and place of the story to life, but the ones that stuck with me most were the mentions of food. I love trying to recreate foods that pop up in novels; it helps make what I’m reading that much more real to me. And since I’m more of a baker than a cabbage-stuffer by inclination, I decided to try my hand at Hungarian walnut strudel—a dessert Andras and Klara share more than once over the course of the novel.

I drew largely from this recipe, but my version is vegan because that’s the way I roll. As it were. (This version is also pareve!)

Hungarian Walnut Rolled Strudel

2 T sugar
1 packet dry active yeast
½ c lukewarm water
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c all-purpose flour
¼ c Earth Balance or other non-hydrogenated margarine, softened (or butter)
1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T water (or 1 egg)
½ t salt

½ lb freshly ground walnuts
1 c sugar
½ c milk substitute, boiled—I used oat milk (or milk)
2 T Earth Balance, melted (or butter)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In small bowl, add yeast and sugar to lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. In larger bowl, blend flours and Earth Balance with a pastry blender. Add yeast mixture, flax mixture, and salt into larger bowl. Mix until dough is smooth and pulls away from side of bowl. Divide dough in half. On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll out each portion into a rectangle, about 11”x15”.

In medium-sized bowl, mix walnuts and melted Earth Balance. Boil milk and add all but about 2T to walnut mixture. Stir to create thick, spreadable paste; add more milk if necessary.Spread half of the walnut filling on each dough rectangle. Roll up dough from narrower side, jelly roll style.

Place rolls seam side down, 2” apart in greased baking pan. Prick sides and top with a toothpick. Bake for 30-45 minutes until browned. Cool and dust with sugar. Cut into ½-inch thick slices. Makes about 20 pieces.

Recommended for nibbling on as you make your way through the last chapters of The Invisible Bridge in the days leading up to our Book Club, or as a lunchtime treat the day of.

Twitter Book Club: The Invisible Bridge

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Dani Crickman

Join the Jewish Book Council and author Julie Orringer in a live discussion of the novel The Invisible Bridge on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 12:30 pm- 1:10 pm EST! Follow us @JewishBook and keep an eye on #JBCBooks for updates.

Publisher’s description: Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded best-selling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater (“fiercely beautiful”—The New York Times; “unbelievably good”—Monica Ali), is a grand love story set against the backdrop of Budapest and Paris, an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are ravaged by war, and the chronicle of one family’s struggle against the forces that threaten to annihilate it.

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret history that will alter the course of his own life. Meanwhile, as his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena and their younger brother leaves school for the stage, Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras’s second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war.

From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s room on the rue des Écoles to the deep and enduring connection he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a love tested by disaster, of brothers whose bonds cannot be broken, of a family shattered and remade in history’s darkest hour, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.

Expertly crafted, magnificently written, emotionally haunting, and impossible to put down, The Invisible Bridge resoundingly confirms Julie Orringer’s place as one of today’s most vital and commanding young literary talents.

Visit Julie Orringer’s website for more.

Read reviews from The New York Times and NPR.

What is a Twitter Book Club?

A twitter book club provides the opportunity for twitter users to engage in real time conversation about a particular, predetermined book. The “Twunch and Talk” aims to provide the tweeple with an opportunity to discuss Jewish interest titles with other interested readers electronically.

To participate…

If you aren’t already a Twitter user, please join twitter here. (Confused about Twitter all together? Visit the twitter twitorial. Follow the Jewish Book Council (@jewishbook). During the designated time and date of the “Twunch and Talk” (def Twunch: A loosely organized open invitation lunch meeting among twitter friends) follow the book club conversation by searching for #JBCBooks. If you would like to actively participate, please include #JBCBooks at the end of any comments or questions you wish to contribute.

(Note: New twitter users may have to wait up to a week before their tweets get saved in hashtag searches. Open a twitter account at least a week and a half before this discussion in order to join us!)

Read transcripts from past book clubs.

So pick up a copy of this month’s book club title, read it, and join us for a conversation online! If you have something to say or a question to ask, feel free to jump in, and don’t forget to include #JBCBook at the end of any tweet so that other participants can engage with you.

Mini Round Up: Stern and Orringer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Steve Stern (Frozen Rabbicreates a playlist for the NYTimes Paper Cuts blog.

Matthue Roth takes a look at Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge for MyJewishLearning.