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Sara Houghteling to Receive Wallant Award for Her Debut Novel, "Pictures at an Exhibition"


Posted 04/15/2010
Posted by David Isgur

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The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford will present Sara Houghteling, a Fulbright Scholar and a high school English teacher in Calif., with the 2009 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her debut novel, Pictures at an Exhibition. The presentation ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in the University's Wilde Auditorium.

Admission to the Wallant Award presentation ceremony is free and open to the public. Wilde Auditorium is located in the Harry Jack Gray Center on the University campus, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

Pictures at an Exhibition tells the story of Max Berenzon, who is born to an art dealer and his pianist wife and yet is forbidden from entering the family business for reasons he cannot understand. He reluctantly attends medical school, reserving his true passion for his father's beautiful and brilliant gallery assistant, Rose Clément. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding. They return in 1944 to find that their priceless collection has vanished: gone are the Matisses, the Picassos, and a singular Manet of mysterious importance. Madly driven to recover his father's paintings, Max navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators. His quest will reveal the tragic disappearance of his closest friend, the heroism of his lost love, and the truth behind a devastating family secret.

Written with tense drama and a historian's eye for detail, Houghteling's novel draws on the real-life stories of France's preeminent art-dealing families and the forgotten biography of the only French woman to work as a double agent inside the Nazis' looted art stronghold. Pictures at an Exhibition conjures the vanished collections, the lives of the artists and their dealers, the exquisite romance, and the shattering loss of a singular era. It is a work of astonishing ambition and beauty from an immensely gifted new novelist.

Houghteling graduated from Harvard College in 1999 and received her master's in fine arts from the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to Paris, first prize in the Avery and Jules Hopwood Awards, and a John Steinbeck Fellowship. She currently lives in California, where she teaches high school English.

The Wallant Award ceremony will feature a discussion by Houghteling and two of the Wallant Award judges.

Established more than 45 years ago by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford to honor the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of The Pawnbroker and other works of fiction, the Wallant Award is today one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. It is presented to an American Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew.

As a Wallant Award winner, Houghteling joins a distinguished list of award recipients, including Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Chaim Potok, Myla Goldberg, Dara Horn, and Nicole Krauss, as well as last year's award winner, Eileen Pollack.

For more information, contact Susan Gottlieb at the Greenberg Center, at 860.768.4964 or mgcjs@hartford.edu. For more information on the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, please see http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/greenberg/wallant.html.

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