The Wingate Literary Prize was established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate. It is now run in association with JW3, the Jewish Community Centre.
The 2023 Wingate Literary Prize shortlist explores a diverse range of themes and subject matter this year, including World War II internment camps, the ‘proving’ of history and the wanderings of a self-proclaimed messiah. The shortlist is made up of 3 works of non-fiction and 4 fiction titles.
Now in its 46th year, the annual prize, worth £4,000 and run in association with JW3, is awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.
I am delighted to be part of the blogtour for 2 of the 7 books and my second book to spotlight is The Memory Monster by Yishai Sarid.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WINGATE PRIZE 2022
A HISTORY TODAY BEST HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2020
2020 National Jewish Book Awards Finalist
“A brilliant short novel that serves as a brave, sharp-toothed brief against letting the past devour the present” (The New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice), Yishai Sarid’s The Memory Monster is a harrowing parable of a young historian who becomes consumed by the memory of the Holocaust.
Written as a report to the chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, our unnamed narrator recounts his own undoing. Hired as a promising young historian, he soon becomes a leading expert on Nazi methods of extermination at concentration camps in Poland during World War II and guides tours through the sites for students and visiting dignitaries. He hungrily devours every detail of life and death in the camps and takes pride in being able to recreate for his audience the excruciating last moments of the victims’ lives.
The job becomes a mission, and then an obsession. Spending so much time immersed in death, his connections with the living begin to deteriorate. He resents the students lost in their iPhones, singing sentimental songs, not expressing sufficient outrage at the genocide committed by the Nazis. In fact, he even begins to detect, in the students as well as himself, a hint of admiration for the murderers—their efficiency, audacity, and determination. Force is the only way to resist force, he comes to think, and one must be prepared to kill.
With the perspicuity of Kafka’s The Trial and the obsessions of Delillo’s White Noise, The Memory Monster confronts difficult questions that are all too relevant to Israel and the world today: How do we process human brutality? What makes us choose sides in conflict? And how do we honor the memory of horror without becoming consumed by it?
Book Information: Print Length: 126 pages. Publisher: Serpent’s Tail. Publication Date: 27 Jan 2022