The Western Canada Jewish Book Awards are a new initiative of the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival. The initiative is designed to celebrate excellence in writing on Jewish themes and showcase the achievements of authors residing west of the Ontario-Manitoba border. The awards aim to recognize the contribution to Jewish culture by these writers, and prizes will be awarded in several categories.
In the inaugural year of the awards (2016), books published in 2014 and 2015 will be accepted. A jury comprised of distinguished members of the literary community will examine the eligible submissions, which will be accepted until Feb. 29, 2016.
It is possible to submit to more than one category. The categories are the Diamond Foundation Prize for fiction, the Pinsky Family Prize for non-fiction, the Betty Averbach Foundation Prize for poetry, the Jonathan and Heather Berkowitz Prize for children and youth books, and the Marsid Foundation Prize for writing on the Holocaust.
Currently, there are two other Jewish book awards in Canada. One is in Montreal, dedicated to writing in Yiddish, and one in Toronto. Although the book awards in Toronto are national, it is the JCC Jewish Book Festival’s hope that Western Canada-based awards will encourage more authors to enter books into competition. By being geographically based, one goal is to enhance the literary scene in Western Canada, which, for the intentions of this award, is considered as being from west of the Manitoba-Ontario border, including the northern regions, to the B.C. coast.
The submitting author must have lived in Western Canada for the past 12 months or have lived in Western Canada for at least three of the past five years. A book written by a non-Jewish author is eligible if in accordance with the following criteria. Eligible books contain significant Jewish content or theme; they are written by an eligible author (see above); they are written in English or are available in English; they are published in English or in English translation between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of the year of the award and the year previous to it; they have a 13-digit ISBN, including eBooks; and graphic books are eligible.
The books submitted will be judged by independent industry professionals. The jury will be comprised of five judges, including a chair, to be drawn from a larger pool including judges from all Western provinces. The winners will be announced by mid-April. An awards soirée and event will take place at a later date in the spring. There will be a monetary award of $2,000 for each winning author.
To submit a book for the award, download the form via jewishbookfestival.ca. Mail or deliver in person the following items for each book submitted: a completed entry form, five copies of the book and the $36 entry fee per prize category. Send the package to JCC Jewish Book Festival, attn: Dana Camil Hewitt, at 950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver, B.C., V5Z 2N7.
Contact Camil Hewitt, JBF director, at 604-257-5156 or [email protected], with any questions.