Edeet Ravel, Elana Wolff among winners of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Awards

Edeet Ravel, Elana Wolff among winners of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Awards.
Edeet Ravel (left) and Elana Wolff are among the winners of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Awards. (Yudit Avi-Dor/Guernica Editions)

Edeet Ravel's children's book A Boy is Not a Bird and Elana Wolff's poetry collection Swoon were two of nine winning books celebrated at the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Awards.

The prizes annually honour books that explore Jewish themes and subjects across a variety of genres. 

Ravel won in the children and youth category for A Boy is Not a Bird, which tells the story of Natt Silver, a young boy growing up in Soviet occupied Romania. 11-year-old Natt just wants to fit in, but instead he must endure the horrors of living under Stalin. 

"While the book is recommended for readers 'age nine +,' it is a memoir a reader of any age could enjoy," said the jury in a press release. 

 A Boy is Not a Bird is also a finalist for the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award, which celebrates fiction books for readers in Grades 3-6.

Ravel is a novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. She is the author of the novel A Wall of Light, which was a finalist for the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Wolff won in the poetry category for her collection Swoon, which explores one's own connection to the world. The collection meditates on human existence, while unveiling some of Wolff's personal experiences.

"Informed by Jewish texts and contexts, with a sure-handed control of language and image, the poems are passionate but mature, precise and curious," said the jury.

Wolff is a Toronto-based poet, writer and translator. She is the author of six collections of poetry.

Here are the other winning books:

  • Fiction: Through Shadows Slow by Abraham Boyarsky
  • History: Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader by Derek Penslar 
  • Biography: Mahler's Forgotten Conductor: Heinz Unger and His Search for Jewish Meaning, 1895-1965 by Hernan Tesler-Mabé
  • Jewish Thought and Culture: Waste Not: A Jewish Environmental Ethic by Tanhum Yoreh
  • Yiddish: How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish, edited by Ilan Stavans and Josh Lambert 
  • Scholarship: Athens and Jerusalem: God, Humans, and Nature by David Novak
  • Holocaust: Le Temps des orphelins by Laurent Sagalovitsch 

This year's seven-member jury panel included Edward Trapunski, Rona Arato, Miriam Borden, Alan Goldschläger, David Koffman, Michael Posner and Adam Sol.

The awards ceremony will be held on October 25, 2020. 

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