Edward Lewis Wallant Award

The Edward Lewis Wallant Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. The annual award recognizes a writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for American Jewish history and culture.

About the Award

The award was established shortly after the untimely death in December 1962 of Edward Lewis Wallant, gifted author of The Human Season and The Pawnbroker. Dr. Irving and Fran Waltman of West Hartford were prompted to create this memorial because of their admiration for Edward Wallant’s literary ability.

A panel of four critics serves as judges. They seek out a writer whose fiction bears a kinship to the work of Wallant. Among those who have received the award in past years are: Ayelet Tsabari, Rebecca Dinerstein, David Bezmozgis, Kenneth Bonert, Joshua Henkin, Edith Pearlman, Julie Orringer, Sara Houghteling, Eileen Pollack, Ehud Havazelet, Leo Litwak, Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Thane Rosenbaum, Myla Goldberg, Jonathan Rosen, and Nicole Krauss.

2023 Wallant Award Recipient

Elizabeth Graver
Elizabeth Graver

Elizabeth Graver for Kantika  


Kantika is Graver’s fifth novel and was inspired by her grandmother Rebecca, who was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in Istanbul and whose shape-shifting life journey took her to Spain, Cuba, and New York. Kantika was named a Best Historical Fiction Book and Notable Book of 2023 by The New York Times and a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Lilith, and Libby. German and Turkish editions are forthcoming. 

Graver’s fourth novel, The End of the Point, was long-listed for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction and selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her other novels are Awake, The Honey Thief, and Unravelling. Her story collection, Have You Seen Me?, won the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and Best American Essays. She teaches at Boston College.

2022 Wallant Award Recipient

Liana Finck
Liana Finck

Liana Finck for Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation

The novel reimages the story of Genesis with God as a woman, Abraham as a resident of New York City, and Rebekah as a robot. Penguin Random House calls it an ambitious and transcendent graphic novel and writes, "In Finck’s retelling, the millennia-old stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob and Esau haunt the pages like familiar but partially forgotten nursery rhymes―transmuted by time but still deeply resonant. With her trademark insightfulness, wry humor, and supple, moving visual style, Finck accentuates the latent sweetness and timeless wisdom of the original text, infusing it with wit and whimsy while retaining every ounce of its spiritual heft.”

Finck is a graphic novelist and a regular contributor to The New Yorker. She is a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. She has had artist residencies with MacDowell, Yaddo, and Headlands Center for the Arts. Let There Be Light is her fourth book. 


Wallant Award Anthology

The New Diaspora Book Cover

In 2015, the Greenberg Center celebrated the publication of a Wallant Award anthology of past winners and finalists, titled The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction, edited by Victoria Aarons (Trinity University), Mark Shechner (University at Buffalo) and Avinoam Patt (University of Hartford). The New Diaspora, published by Wayne State University Press, brings together under one cover a representative group of those writers whose work has either won or been considered for the award. In recognition of the trajectory and development of American Jewish writing in the 50 years since the award was established, the volume reflects the breadth and ongoing vitality of the fiction written by and about Jews in America. Learn more about The New Diaspora.

Past Wallant Award Winners

2023 Elizabeth Graver Kantika: A Novel
2022 Liana Finck Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation
2021 Hanna Halperin  Something Wild
2020 Lee Connell The Party Upstairs
2019 Peter Orner Maggie Brown & Others
2018 Eduardo Halfon  Mourning
2017 Margot Singer  Underground Fugue
2017 - Runner Up  Rachel Hall Heirlooms
2016 Ayelet Tsabari The Best Place on Earth
2016 Runner-Up Amy Gottlieb The Beautiful Possible
2015 Rebecca Dinerstein The Sunlit Night
2014 David Bezmozgis The Betrayers
2013 Kenneth Bonert The Lion Seeker
2012 Joshua Henkin The World Without You
2011 Edith Pearlman Binocular Vision
2010 Julie Orringer The Invisible Bridge
2009 Sara Houghteling Pictures at an Exhibition
2008 Eileen Pollack In the Mouth
2007 Ehud Havazelet Bearing the Body
2006 No Award
2005 Nicole Krauss The History of Love
2004 Jonathan Rosen Joy Comes in the Morning
2003 Joan Leegant An Hour in Paradise
2002 Dara Horn In the Image
2001 Myla Goldberg Bee Season
2000 Judy Budnitz If I Told You Once
1999 Allegra Goodman Kaaterskill Falls
1998 No Award
1997 Harvey Grossinger The Quarry
1996 Thane Rosenbaum Elijah Visible
1995 Rebecca Goldstein Mazel
1994 No Award
1993 Gerald Shapiro From Hunger
1992 Melvin Jules Bukiet Stories of an Imaginary Childhood
1991 No Award
1990 No Award
1989 Jerome Badanes The Final Opus of Leon Solomon
1988 Tova Reich Master of the Return
1987 Steve Stern Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven
1986 Daphne Merkin Enchantment
1985 Jay Neuseboren Before My Life Begins
1984 No Award
1983 Francine Prose Hungry Hearts
1982 No Award
1981 Allen Hoffman Kaganís Superfecta
1980 Johanna Kaplan O My America
1979 No Award
1978 No Award
1977 Curt Leviant The Yemenite Girl
1976 No Award
1975 Anne Bernays Growing Up Rich
1974 Susan Fromberg Schaeffer Anya
1973 Arthur A. Cohen In the Days of Simon Stern
Robert Kotlowitz
Somewhere Else
1971 Cynthia Ozick The Pagan Rabbi
1970 No Award
1969 Leo Litwak Waiting for the News
1968 No Award
1967 Chaim Potok The Chosen
1966 Gene Hurwitz Home Is Where You Start From
1965 Hugh Nissenson A Pile of Stones
1964 Seymour Epstein Leah
1963 Norman Fruchter Coat Upon a Stick

Submission Deadline: November 1

New submissions are welcomed annually.

For more information, contact Amy Weiss, PhD, Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and History, Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, and coordinator of the Wallant Award Committee at