January 14, 2010
We congratulate Toronto author Joseph Kertes who has won the 59th annual National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for his novel, "Gratitude."
Kertes' Holocaust-themed novel, which was first published in Canada in 2008, is one of 18 books in various categories recognized by the awards overseen by the Jewish Book Council in New York City. The book is set in German-occupied Hungary during the final months of World War II.
The winners will be honored March 9 in New York City.
The Hungarian-born award-winning author Joseph Kertes came to Canada with his family after the Hungarian revolution of 1956. He studied English at York University and the University of Toronto, where Irving Layton and Marshall McLuhan encouraged him to write. Kertes is the founder of Humber College’s renowned creative writing and comedy programs, the Humber School for Writers. He is currently Humber’s Dean of Creative and Performing Arts and has received numerous awards for teaching and innovation. His first novel, Winter Tulips (1988), won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Boardwalk 1998, his second novel, and two children’s books, namely The Gift (1995, Groundwood) and The Red Corduroy Shirt (1998, Fitzhenry & Whiteside), received critical praise. His latest novel, Gratitude, won the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. According to Roddy Doyle, the novel is a “massive achievement.” Tim O’Brien said Gratitude “deserves literary hoorays from all quarters.”
Joseph Kertes – Gratitude
“A major novel that spills over with humanity--by a master story-teller...” Bruce Jay Friedman
“Gratitude is a tragic story of our times - - lyrical and wonderfully accomplished.” M. G. Vassanji
“From the dramatic opening pages, readers will be thrilled. The writing is so skilful that you must read on-and you’ll want the book never to end.” Wayson Choy
March 1944: War’s darkest period descends upon Hungary’s Jews. By the time it ends in January 1945, over half a million Jews will have been murdered. Gratitude tells the story of that period, and of lives and loves saved and lost. At the center of it all is Paul Beck, a young lawyer whose chance meeting with a visiting Swede, Raoul Wallenberg, may alter the inevitability of the Jews’ fate. Like The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani, Gratitude captures forever the pain and passion of one family’s precious moment in time.
Kertes is also a frequent contributor to newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and magazines like The Walrus. One of his most recent articles deals with Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March published in The Globe and Mail. To read the full article, please click here.