Why we still write Holocaust fiction

By | Jul 26, 2021

The winners of the 2020 Moment Magazine- Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest will read from their stories July 29 at a special virtual event that will include a conversation about why Holocaust fiction is still being written and whether it still has lessons for readers.

Omer Friedlander, from Tel Aviv, won first place for his story “The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land.” Second place went to Linda Brettler from Los Angeles for her story “ Private,” and third place to Rona Arato  from Ontario for her story “Polonaise.” All three will read short excerpts from their work during the event. Ruth Sutton from Pennsylvania received an honorable mention for “Little Miracles.”

“We are so excited to introduce these voices to a larger audience,” says Nadine Epstein. “Fiction is just as important as history in telling the stories of the Jewish people and we’re committed to being a platform for that.”

“When we launched this contest in 2000, our goal was to give unknown writers a place where their work could be seen,” says Karma Foundation president Sharon Karmazin. “Over the years, it has been an incredible experience to get to know these men and women.  They are so talented – from our contest, they have gone on to publish short stories, anthologies and novels. Their work has appeared in The New York Times,  The Atlantic, Tablet,  Haaretz,  Ploughshares, Tikkun and many others.

Following the readings, there will be a conversation on the enduring power – and perils – of Holocaust fiction. This topic stemmed from the prevalence of themes of the Holocasut among the entries of the fiction contest and Jewish fiction in general.

The conversation will be with authors Ruby Namdar, this year’s contest judge, Ruth Franklin and Moment editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein.  Namdar is the author of The Ruined House, which won Israel’s highest literary award, the Sapir Prize. Ruth Franklin wrote A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, and Nadine Epstein is the editor of Elie Wiesel: An Extraordinary Life

Past contest judges and speakers have included Dani Shapiro, Tova Mirvis, Joyce Carol Oates, Andre Aciman, Alan Cheuse, Walter Mosely, Nicole Krauss, Erica Jong, Jonathan Safran Foer, Geraldine Brooks, Dara Horn, Nicholas Delbanco and Robert Pinsky.

The 2021 contest deadline is September 1; more information on the contest is here
Moment is an independent magazine that since its founding 45 years ago by Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein has provided a unique lens on the issues that concern and inspire American Jews. The Karma Foundation was established in 1996 to provide grants in support of a wide range of organizations engaged in activities and programs in the arts, autism, Jewish life and more.

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