Winners of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards

Fiction – Diamond Foundation Prize 2018
Deborah Willis – The Dark and Other Love Stories
“The emotional range and depth of Willis’s stories, the clarity and deftness, are astonishing.”—Alice Munro

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted.  The Dark and Other Love Stories announces the emergence of a wonderfully gifted storyteller whose stories enlarge our perceptions about the human capacity to love.

Deborah Willis’ first book Vanishing and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and named one of the Globe and Mail’s top 10 books of the year. She lives in Calgary, Alberta.


Non-Fiction – The Pinsky Givon Family Prize 2018
Tilar J. Mazzeo – Irena’s Children
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


Children/Youth – the Jonathan and Heather Berkowitz Prize 2018
Irene N. Watts – Seeking Refuge
Kathryn E. Shoemaker (illustrator) – Seeking Refuge

Seeking Refuge captures Irene Watts’ experiences when she was sent to England from Germany on the Kindertransport at the age of seven. This was a military operation that saved almost 10,000 Jewish children during WWII.

“Author and illustrator show their collaborative finesse in a wonderfully rendered marriage between text and art. A book that invites close reading, this will spark interest in the plight of all refugees.”IRENE N. WATTS has written poems, plays, novels and non-fiction books. As a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, she wrote and directed plays for young audiences to be performed at schools.

KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER is the illustrator of more than 40 books for children. She has broad experience as an art teacher, curriculum specialist, filmmaker, fund raiser and event designer. She teaches children’s literature at UBC.


Holocaust – the Kahn Family Foundation Prize 2018
Roger Frie – Not in My Family : German Memory and Responsibility after the Holocaust

In this extraordinary and highly absorbing book, Canadian author Roger Frie confronts an unspoken Nazi  history in his German family. With remarkable courage, he seeks to transform his family narrative into an understanding of the Holocaust’s forbidding reality. The son of German postwar immigrants who were children during World War II, and with grandparents who were participants in the War, he uses the history of his family to explore the moral and psychological implications of memory against the backdrop of one of humanity’s darkest periods.

ROGER FRIE is a psychologist and philosopher educated in London and Cambridge. He is Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University,  Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at UBC and Faculty and Supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York.