Francesca Segal Awarded Sami Rohr Prize
04/10/2013 - 23:57
Sandee Brawarsky

Francesca Segal has been awarded the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her first novel, “The Innocents” (Voice). The award carries a prize of $100,000.

Ben Lerner was named the 2013 runner-up for “Leaving the Atocha Station” (Coffee House Press), with a prize of $25,000.

Established by the Rohr family in 2006 to honor Sami Rohr, a businessman and philanthropist who loved books, the prize is for emerging writers. Rohr died in 2012 at the age of 86.

Last month, Segal’s book also received the Jewish Book Council’s JJ Greenberg Award in fiction. In “The Innocents,” Segal recasts Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” in contemporary times, set in the wealthy, close-knit Jewish community of North London.

Segal, who grew up in London, is the daughter of novelist Erich Segal and is the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of rabbis. Last summer, I asked her about how her Jewish identity informs her view of the world and her writing.

Here’s what she said: “It's almost impossible to tease apart my Jewish identity from my identity - so I can't truly answer the question with much objectivity. I was raised to feel - and do still feel - passionately connected to Judaism and to Israel, in that funny, uniquely Jewish, secular manner that casts God in a cameo rather than a central role. And I grew up mostly in the UK, where there is only a small and rather self-effacing Jewish community, very different from the confidence and pride that I adore in New York."

 

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