The University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies has named author Eduardo Halfon the 2018 Edward Lewis Wallant Award winner for his outstanding novel, Mourning (Bellevue Literary Press, 2018). The presentation ceremony will be held on Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m. at the Mandell Jewish Community Center, West Hartford, Connecticut, as part of the 2018-19 Mandell JCC Book Festival series. This year’s ceremony will also honor the book’s translators, Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn.
The Wallant Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. Established by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford in 1963, the Wallant Award honors the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of The Pawnbroker and other works of fiction. It is presented to a Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew.
In Mourning, Halfon follows his memory back to his maternal roots in Jewish Poland and to forbidden stories of his father’s Lebanese-Jewish immigrant family. Former Wallant Award winner, Francine Prose, calls Mourning “a feat of literary acrobatics” (New York Review of Books). Mourning has also been described as a subtle and stirring reflection on the formative and destructive power of family mythology, silence, and grief.
“As always, I am grateful and humbled when one of my books receives a prize, but to be given the Edward Lewis Wallant Award feels like I'm being honored by the very men and women I write about,” said Halfon.
In October, 2018, Halfon received the 2018 Guatemalan National Prize in Literature from the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports, awarded for his entire body of work. He is the author of 14 books published in Spanish and three novels published in English: Mourning, Monastery, and The Polish Boxer.
Halfon was born in Guatemala City and moved to the United States at the age of 10. He attended school in South Florida, studied industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, and returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. He is currently a visiting professor in creative writing at the University of Iowa.
Additional honorees Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn have translated many novels and scholarly works in addition to Mourning. In 2016, Dillman won the Best Translated Book Award for Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. She is director of the Honors Program and a senior lecturer in Spanish at Emory University. Hahn is a freelance writer, editor, researcher and translator who currently serves on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors and a number of other organizations working with literature, literacy, and free expression.
For more information on the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and past recipients, please visit the award webpage.
For more information about or to register for the award ceremony, contact Susan Gottlieb at the Greenberg Center, 860.768.4964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.