Wednesday evening saw another literary organization creatively embracing the new digital landscape to celebrate outstanding writing as the annual Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature announced the winners of the 2020 prizes in four literary categories via a virtual event.
The awards, which were founded to reward literary excellence from Jewish Canadian authors and non-Jewish Canadian authors writing on Jewish themes, carry a $10,000 prize for each category.
The 2020 Jury, composed of authors Judy Batalion, Allan Levine, and Shani Mootoo, read 55 entries to the four categories from publishers across the country before selecting the winners.
The 2020 Vine Award Winners
Sarah Leavitt for Agnes, Murderess (Freehand Books)
The jury praised Leavitt's graphic novel, saying "Leavitt delivers a most powerful story, artfully tying together the engaging voice of her protagonist with well-timed ellipses and magical drawings that are the hallmark of the successful graphic novel."
Matti Friedman for Spies of No Country (Signal, McClelland & Stewart)
"Spies of No Country reads like a spy-thriller page-turner... except that this is not a work of fiction," said the jury of Friedman's book. "Well researched, and offering up much intriguing and gritty detail, it is the unveiling of several intricately-woven true stories of the earliest days of Mossad." Friedman is now a two-time winner, having previously won in 2017's History category for his book Pumpkinflowers.
Naomi K. Lewis for Tiny Lights for Travellers (University of Alberta Press)
The jury lauded the nonfiction winner's deeply personal memoir, calling it "a quest to retrace the actual route of her beloved Opa’s escape from German Controlled Europe... In the best tradition of the memoir form, Lewis’s explorations take her well beyond her expectations."
Young Adult/Children's Literature:
Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer for Broken Strings (Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
The jury applauded co-authors Walters and Kacer's ability to combine multiple complex themes in their winning book, noting that the story "seamlessly blends... young love, artistic identity, 9/11, grief, and the Auschwitz orchestra into a moving and insightful young adult novel.”
The Vine Awards are support by a donation from the Lillian and Norman Glowinsky Family Foundation. The foundation originally took over the awards in 2004 as the the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards. They were first founded in 1988 by Adam Fuerstenberg as the Canadian Jewish Book Awards.
Since 1994, the Koffler Centre of the Arts have administered the prizes. For more information, please visit the Koffler website.