The Koffler Centre of the Arts is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature.

The Vine Awards honour both the best Canadian Jewish writers and Canadian authors who deal with Jewish subjects in five categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, History and Children’s/Young Adult, each with a prize of $10,000.

“We are thrilled to present the 2019 Vine Awards to five exceptional authors who embrace literary excellence and embody the best of contemporary Jewish Canadian literature,” said Koffler Executive Director, Karen Tisch. “We are deeply grateful to our lead donors, Lillian and Norman Glowinsky, for providing vital support and recognition to these writers, who are making an indelible mark on the Canadian literary landscape.”

The Awards were handed out at a luncheon ceremony on October 23, 2019 at the Windsor Arms Hotel, Toronto. Read the 2019 Vine Award Winners Press Release here.

The 2019 Vine Awards: Winners

Fiction: Claire Holden Rothman, Lear’s Shadow (Penguin Canada)
“The writer’s command of the elements of the novel – setting, character, pace – are what distinguish this revision of Shakespeare by way of contemporary Montréal.” – The Vine Awards Jury

Non-Fiction: Anne Michaels, Infinite Gradation (Exile Editions)
Infinite Gradation is grounded and informative as any non-fiction book but charged by high-flying contemplations that lift the mood and thoughts of the reader.” The Vine Awards Jury 

Poetry: Linda Frank, Divided (Wolsak and Wynn Publishers)
Divided uses the power of poetry to analyse the relationship between humankind and nature in often devastatingly clear language. It documents with both beauty and dispassion the complexity of the animal world – including human beings – in a way that will resonate for a long time to come.” – The Vine Awards Jury 

History: Benjamin Carter Hett, The Death of Democracy (Allen Lane Canada/Penguin Canada)
The Death of Democracy, a briskly written history of the not-at-all inevitable transition from the Weimar Republic to fascist Germany, focuses on individuals in order to tell the story but also to remind us that it is the choices of individuals that make history.” – The Vine Awards Jury 

Children’s/Young Adult: Jonathan Auxier, Sweep (Puffin Canada/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
“Blending fantasy, folklore and history, Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is a vivid re-imagining of the golem story set in Victorian London.” – The Vine Awards Jury

The 2019 Jury – poet Ayesha Chatterjee, children’s author Melanie J. Fishbane, and author Eric Beck Rubin – reviewed 84 entries.

This year’s winning titles embody “the diversity of Canadian Jewish writing, characterized by the universal themes of home, family, and finding a place to belong,” said juror Melanie J. Fishbane. “These authors dive deep into generational trauma, challenge popular historical narratives, and ask the difficult questions about not only what it means to be Jewish, but to be human.”

“There were books whose style, authority and reach were outstanding,” added juror Eric Beck Rubin. “In all cases the jury’s consensus was based on a book’s impact and effects on a reader, no matter how they were achieved.”

The 2019 Vine Awards Shortlist

Claire Holden Rothman, Lear’s Shadow (Penguin Canada)
Aaron Kreuter, You and Me, Belonging (Tightrope Books)
Natalie Morrill, The Ghost Keeper (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)

Anne Michaels, Infinite Gradation (Exile Editions)
Sarah Weinman, The Real Lolita (Knopf Canada)
Lezli Rubin-Kunda, At Home: Talks with Canadian Artists about Place and Practice (Goose Lane Editions)

Linda Frank, Divided (Wolsak and Wynn Publishers)
Anne Michaels, All We Saw (McClelland & Stewart)
Suzannah Showler, Thing Is (McClelland & Stewart)

Benjamin Carter Hett, The Death of Democracy (Allen Lane Canada/Penguin Canada)
Robert Harris, Song of a Nation: The Untold Story of Canada’s National Anthem (McClelland & Stewart)
Sarah Wobick-Segev, Homes Away from Home: Jewish Belonging in Twentieth Century Paris, Berlin and St. Petersburg (Stanford University Press)

Children’s/Young Adult:
Jonathan Auxier, Sweep (Puffin Canada/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
Cary Fagan, Wolfie and Fly: Band on the Run (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
Ellen Schwartz, Princess Dolls (Tradewind Books)



Bonnie Burstow, The Other Mrs. Smith (Inanna Publications)
Laurie Gelman, Class Mom (Henry Holt and Company) WINNER
Rebecca Rosenblum, So Much Love (McClelland & Stewart)

Molly Applebaum, Buried Words: The Diary of Molly Applebaum (The Azrieli Foundation)
Elaine Dewar, The Handover (Biblioasis)
Julija Šukys, Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning (University of Nebraska Press) WINNER

Roger Frie, Not in My Family: Germany Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust (Oxford University Press)
Hugues Théorêt, The Blue Shirts: Adrien Arcand and Fascist Anti-Semitism in Canada (Translated by Ferdinanda Van Gennip and Howard Scott; University of Ottawa Press) WINNER
Max Wallace, In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust (Allen Lane)

Melanie Fishbane, Maud (Penguin Random House)
Kathy Kacer, To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen’s Account of a War Criminal Trial (Second Story Press)
Deborah Katz, Rare is Everywhere (Miss Bird Books) WINNER


Eric Beck Rubin, School of Velocity (Doubleday Canada)
Peter Behrens, Carry Me (House of Anansi Press) WINNER
Danila Botha, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known (Tightrope Books)

Sarah Barmak, Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality (Coach House Books)
Judy Batalion, White Walls (Berkley/Penguin Random House)
David Leach, Chasing Utopia (ECW Press)
Miriam Libicki, Toward a Hot Jew (Fantagraphics Books Inc.) WINNER

Max Eisen, By Chance Alone (Harper Collins Publishers)
Matti Friedman, Pumpkinflowers (McClelland & Stewart) WINNER
Ester Reiter, A Future Without Hate or Need: The Promise of the Jewish Left in Canada (Between the Lines) 

Deborah Kerbel, Feathered (Kids Can Press)
Tilar Mazzeo and Mary Farrell, Irena’s Children (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Irene N. Watts and Kathryn E. Shoemaker, Seeking Refuge (Tradewind Books) WINNER


David Bezmozgis, The Betrayers (Harper Collins) WINNER

Joseph Kertes, The Afterlife of Stars (Penguin Books)
Sean Michaels, Us Conductors (Random House Canada)
Mireille Silcoff, Chez L’Arabe (House of Anansi Press)

Bob Bossin, Davy the Punk (The Porcupine’s Quill)
Mark Celinscak, Distance from the Belsen Heap: Allied Forces and the Liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp (University of Toronto Press) WINNER
Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind (Penguin Books)
Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Monkeys, Myths and Molecules (ECW Press)

Beverley Chalmers, Birth, Sex and Abuse: Women’s Voices under Nazi Rule (Grosvenor House Publishing) WINNER

Andrew Cohen, Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History (McClelland & Stewart)
Maria Noriega Rachwal, From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (Second Story Press)
Ira Robinson, A History of Antisemitism in Canada (Wilfrid Laurier University Press)

Daniel Goodwin, Catullus’s Soldiers (Cormorant Books) WINNER

Seymour Mayne, Cusp Word Sonnets (Ronald P. Frye and Co.)
Ruth Panofsky, The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington (University of Ottawa Press)
Rachel Zolf, Janey’s Arcadia (Coach House Books)

Emil Sher, Young Man with Camera (Scholastic Inc.) WINNER

Shelly Sanders, Rachel’s Hope (Second Story Press)
Eva Wiseman, The World Outside (Tundra Books)
Frieda Wishinsky, illustrations by Willow Dawson, Avis Dolphin (House of Anansi Press)