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 Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for American Jews. 

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. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford were prompted to create this memorial because of their admiration for Edward Wallant’s literary ability.

A panel of three critics serves as judges, and they seek out a writer whose fiction bears a kinship to the work of Wallant, and preferably an author who is younger and unrecognized. 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.

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.

2020 Wallant Award Recipient

Lee Conell
Lee Conell

Lee Conell for The Party Upstairs

The Party Upstairs tells the story of a day in the life of an Upper West Side New York City co-op from the alternating points of view of Ruby and her father Martin, who also is the building superintendent. The novel was named Best Book of the Summer by Buzzfeed and Entertainment Weekly, and according to the National Book Review, Conell, “Ignites this suspenseful novel, taking place over a single day, with a passion, psychological insight, and a keen sensibility about class and economic difference.” 

Conell is the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize’s Spotlight Award. Her short fiction has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award and appears in the Oxford American, Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She is a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow as well as the recipient of creative writing fellowships from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.


2019 Wallant Award Recipient

Peter Orner
Peter Orner

Peter Orner for Maggie Brown & Others

In his sixth book, Maggie Brown & Others, Orner has managed his most sustained achievement yet: 44 stories, many as short as a few paragraphs, none longer than twenty pages. The stories venture from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago and Iowa then over to the East Coast, and with them he pairs a poignant novella that delivers not only the joys and travails of a 45-year marriage, but an entire era in a working-class New England city. While recurrent characters appear in different stories and some of the stories are linked, Orner achieves his effects with subtlety, so that part of the pleasure for readers of this collection is in discovery and making the connections that Orner has movingly built into the book. Yet each story can be enjoyed on its own and will leave an indelible mark.

Peter Orner is the author of two novels, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and Love and Shame and Love, and two story collections, Esther Stories and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge. His latest book, Am I Alone Here?, a memoir, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Orner’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, The Southern Review, and many other publications. His stories have been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice received a Pushcart Prize.

Orner has been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, as well as a Fulbright to Namibia. Currently, he is a professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College and lives with his family in Norwich, Vermont. Visit to learn more.


Past Wallant Award Winners

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 of Each Year

New submissions are welcomed annually.

For more information, contact Avinoam Patt, PhD, adjunct professor and coordinator of the Wallant Award Committee at