(New York, NY -- November 14, 2006) -- One of the highlights of Jewish Book Month will be the presentation on December 12 of the 2006 Harold U. Ribalow Prize to Tamar Yellin, author of The Genizah at the House of Shepher. Administered by the award-winning Hadassah Magazine, the Ribalow Prize is given annually to an author who has created an outstanding work of fiction on a Jewish theme.
This year’s panel of judges included Elie Wiesel, Prof. Jonathan Freedman, and last year’s Ribalow recipient, Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us. The award was established in 1983 by friends and family of Harold U. Ribalow, an editor, author and humanist, to honor his memory. Recent winners have included Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated, and Myla Goldberg, author of Bee Season, two writers whose books were later released as movies.
Keynote speaker for this year’s Ribalow ceremony, to be held at the Center for Jewish History in New York, is Jonathan Freedman, professor of English and American Studies at the University of Michigan and an authority on Henry James and Oscar Wilde.
Tamar Yellin was born in the north of England. Her father was a third generation Jerusalemite and her mother the daughter of a Polish immigrant. She began writing fiction at an early age, and the creative tension between her Jewish heritage and her Yorkshire roots has informed much of her work.
The Genizah at the House of Shepher is the story of a biblical scholar from England who returns to her grandparents’ home in Jerusalem after a long absence – and lands in the midst of a new family struggle and an old family fable. It is a large-canvas story of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land. Yellin’s first novel, it was published in 2005 by Toby Press to wide critical acclaim.
“We are delighted to welcome Tamar Yellin into the circle of Ribalow recipients,” said Hadassah Magazine Chair Ruth Cole. “Her family saga is not only beautifully written, it speaks to anyone who values the continuity of Jewish life, of not only honoring but also believing in those who lived before us.”