Month: April 2016

Beatrice Baltuck Garrard Wins Prize

screen-shot-2016-04-18-at-2-54-49-pmFeet of Clay, by Beatrice Baltuck Garrard (pictured above), has won the first ever Amy Levy Prize – a new award given to a writer under the age of 30, addressing a Jewish theme. Tum Balalaika by Michelle Samuels has received the second prize and Garden Hose by Talya Zax was commended.

A distinguished panel of judges was headed by Naomi Alderman, winner of the Orange Prize for New Writing. The panel included novelist and journalist, Adam LeBor; literary critic and chair of Jewish Quarterly Advisory Board, David Herman; academic, Nadia Valman; and Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE.

The Amy Levy Prize is a new award for young, unpublished writers sponsored by Jewish Quarterly and JW3. The award is designed to create a platform for writing by Jewish authors or about Jewish communities, life and culture. With a cut-off age of 30, it is the first international Jewish writing prize specifically aimed at making a difference in the early career of young writers. The winner receives a cash prize of £1,000, one week’s writers’ residency, and one year’s mentoring by Naomi Alderman.

About Feet of Clay, Alderman said, “It weaves the legend of the golem with the destruction of Prague during the Second World War. We were particularly impressed with Beatrice Baltuck Garrard’s brilliantly evocative language and the strange otherworldly narrative voice of the golem to whom the world entire is new and unimagined. Garrard’s 12-year-old female Kabbalah scholar is a brilliantly original character of whom we’d love to see more.”

Beatrice Baltuck Garrard is an undergraduate student of history and Yiddish literature at Stanford University. She was raised on Jewish folklore and Russian fairytales, along with a generous helping of Star Trek!


Cameron not sure who Wesker is!

An early sign that Dave was not quite himself came when Jeremy Corbyn upstaged him by paying tribute to the playwright Arnold Wesker who had died earlier that day. Dave is normally well abreast of any celebrity deaths and seldom misses an opportunity to praise “Danny the Police Dog who slightly injured his front paw in the line of duty” but this time he was completely stumped. Arnold who? “Let me make myself absolutely clear,” said Muddy Dave, “I’d also like to pay tribute to… um, er, this playwrighty chappy whoever he was.”


Arnold Wesker Died

Very sad news.

Prolific writer who produced more than 40 plays, as well as books of essays, poetry and short stories was a key British figure in 20th century drama

Arnold Wesker
The dramatist pictured in October 1989. Critics grouped him with other working class writers sometimes referred to as the ‘angry young men’ generation. 



Sir Arnold Wesker, one of the key British figures of 20th century drama and a writer whose work spanned more than five decades, has died. He was 83.

A prolific, often highly political writer who produced more than 40 plays, as well as books of essays, poetry and short stories, his work also included children’s fiction and a first novel, Honey, which was published in 2005.

After first gaining prominence in the 1950s, critics grouped him with other working class writers sometimes referred to as the “angry young men” generation, although Wesker rejected the label. He was later characterised as a leading voice of 1960s “kitchen sink” British drama.

“You’re not a good writer because you come from a working class background and you’re not a good writer because you’ve been through university. You’re a good writer because you’re a good writer and it’s the work that matters, not the labels that surround you.”

Born in 1932 in the East End of London, Wesker was the son of Jewish communists and drew on his upbringing for some of his key works. They included 1958’s acclaimed Chicken Soup With Barley, which juxtaposed the story of a struggling East End Jewish family with their crisis that Stalinism and world events presented to their communist ideals.

The play, the first in a trilogy, was also the subject of one of two major revivals of his works in recent years when it was staged in 2011 at the Royal Court. The other, The Kitchen, was performed at the National Theatre.

Looking back on his childhood during an interview with the Observer in 2011, he recalled it being poor, “but I don’t remember it in terms of suffering”.

Wesker also remembered his parents as being “completely atheist”, though he added: “But they were also – this is difficult for gentiles to understand – fiercely Jewish.”

After winning acclaim for his early trilogy, which was completed by Roots and I’m Talking About Jerusalem, his efforts to spread culture more widely found a focus when he founded the Roundhouse’s first theatre, Centre 42, in 1964. Among his notable later plays was The Merchant, renamed Shylock, in 1976. In later years he lived in Wales, and then Hove in East Sussex.

Despite suffering from Parkinson’s, he continued to write late into his life, publishing his first collection of poetry, All Things Tire of Themselves, in 2008. He received a knighthood in 2006, by which time his plays had been translated into 18 languages and had been performed around the world.