The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association has announced its selections for the 2009 Sophie Brody Medal. The award, which consists of a medal for the winner and citations for honor books, is funded by Arthur Brody and the Brodart Foundation, and is given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature.
This year’s winner is Peter Manseau for Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter (Free Press). The narrator of this book, an American Catholic translator, tells the colorful story of an elderly Yiddish poet, covering a century of events in Israel, Poland, Russia and the United States. The interwoven stories are a tour de force of writing styles demonstrating the power of passion and commitment to Jewish culture.
Three books received honorable mentions:
Beaufort by Ron Leshem (Delacorte Press), winner of Israel’s highest literary award, the Sapir Prize, depicts a group of young Israeli soldiers occupying an ancient Crusader fort in Lebanon. The dialogue of these young men engaged in a battle against an unseen enemy depicts the absurdity and futility of war in a very real way.
Friendly Fire by A.B. Yehoshua (Harcourt), one of Israel’s best known novelists, has given us a beautifully written portrait of a close-knit Israeli family. The slice of daily life in contemporary Israel, the issue of identity raised by a character’s rejection of all things Israeli and Jewish and the imagery of “friendly fire” make this a compelling story.
From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books by Arie Kaplan (Jewish Publication Society) recognizes that the “story of Jews’ involvement in comic books is a reflection of Jews’ changing status in American society.” Kaplan’s illustrated history details the ways in which Jews—and traditionally Jewish beliefs—contributed to what is now called the graphic novel. “From Krakow to Krypton” is engagingly written, a popular history whose readability often conceals a wealth of original research.
Authors of these selected titles will be invited to speak at the Literary Tastes Breakfast, a ticketed RUSA event at the ALA Annual Conference. Find out more about RUSA events at the conference—scheduled for July 9-15 in Chicago—at www.ala.org/rusa.
The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need.