The shortlist is as follows:
• Amir Gutfreund – The World a Moment Later (Toby Press)
• Zoë Heller – The Believers (Fig Tree)
• Ladislaus Löb – Dealing with Satan (Jonathan Cape)
• Denis MacShane – Globalising Hatred (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
• Fred Wander – The Seventh Well (Granta)
• Jackie Wullschlager – Chagall: Love and Exile (Allen Lane)
Commenting on the shortlist, Chairman of the Judging panel Will Skidelsky said: ‘The shortlist ⎯ which emerged, I think it’s fair to say, with a surprisingly low level of disagreement ⎯ spans fiction and non-fiction, the past and the present, and a variety of literary styles. We have a major biography of an artist whose life seems almost to stand for 20th-century Jewish experience; a delightfully eccentric novel about Israel’s “shadow history”; an impassioned polemic about the resurgence of anti-Semitism as a global force; an acerbic portrayal of Jewish family life in New York; and two very different books about the Holocaust. Every work on this list could plausibly win the prize, and choosing between them won’t be easy.’
This is the only UK prize to recognise writing by Jewish and non-Jewish authors, which stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern while appealing to the general reader.
Former winners include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks, WG Sebald, and Etgar Keret.
• Julie Burchill was Founding Editor of The Modern Review. Her books include No Exit, Sugar Rush, Sweet, the autobiography I knew I was Right, and the bestselling novel, Ambition. Her weekly columns in the Guardian and The Times offer nearly a decade’s worth of radical opinion and caustic wit.
• Will Skidelsky was Literary Editor of The New Statesman and subsequently Deputy Editor of Prospect Magazine before becoming Literary Editor of the Observer in late 2008.
• Nick Viner is Chief Executive of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) for London. Formerly a senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group, he sits on the London Advisory Board of Eureka, the Museum for Children, the Steering Committee of the London Jewish Forum and is a trustee of the International Cultural Fund which supports educational and cultural projects around Europe.
• Francesca Segal is a freelance writer and literary critic. Her work has appeared in Granta, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Financial Times, the Jewish Chronicle, and the Jewish Quarterly. She is currently a Features writer at Tatler and is the Observer’s Debut Fiction columnist.