Celebrating the best Canadian Jewish authors and non-Jewish Canadian authors who write about Jewish subjects, in Fiction, Non-Fiction, History, Young Adult and Children’s literature, and Poetry. Each winning author receives a prize of $10,000 to be presented during the October 12 award ceremony. Awards in all categories are given annually, with the exception of poetry that is awarded every three years. This year’s jury, made up of authors Alain Goldschlager, Sidura Ludwig, and Syd Zolf, narrowed down the over 110 submitted works to 15 to create the shortlist of authors in all five categories. 

“This year we read a wide variety of books tackling many different subjects, stories, themes and issues. With two years’ worth of submissions, we immersed ourselves in the broad landscape of Canadian Jewish writing with the difficult task of forming five short lists and winners out of so many different writing styles, topics and genres. This is a year when poetry is included, and we were impressed by the range and skill shown by our Jewish poets. The jury process was challenging, engaging and fun, with conversations revolving around what stories we are telling today, which stories we need to hear and how these writers are bringing something new and provocative to the literary world.” - 2023 Vine Award Jurors: Alain Goldschlager, Sidura Ludwig, and Syd Zolf


The authors named to the 2023 Vine Awards shortlist are:


Gary Barwin, Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy (Random House Canada)
An epic, eccentric, journey set in 1941 Europe after Nazis invaded Lithuania. Motl, a middle- aged man who loves cowboy novels, is on a hero’s quest to save his future. This gripping story balances humour and heartbreak with witty prose and deeply felt characters. Expertly researched with a cast of unforgettable characters, Barwin’s story speaks to the power of resistance. The novel explores genocide, colonialism, masculinity and intergenerational trauma while taking the reader on a heart-stopping adventure. – Vine Awards Jury

Rivka Galchen Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch (HarperCollins Publisher)
Galchen weaves magic with this wry, sly, and caustic concoction of a novel. By turns a feminist reimagining of a famous-man-in-history’s broader lifeworld and a scary tale of misogyny, ageism, and deadly stupid phobia, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch speaks eloquently to the always petty and dangerous violence of being human. Brilliantly researched and enacted, this mesmerizing book is a romp through history that will keep reminding you of the nasty dailiness of the news. – Vine Awards Jury

Sheila Heti, Pure Colour (Knopf Canada)
Sheila Heti’s novel is philosophical and mystical; a study of grief, love, art and God. She asks the question: What if God is an artist and the world right now is just one draft of his creation? A story that is at times grounded in the present world, at other times resting on a single leaf, Heti’s sharp prose carries the reader through an otherworldly, almost biblical tale. A fearless, quirky novel that wrestles with big questions about faith, our place in the universe and how we understand the world. – Vine Awards Jury


Mark Braude, Kiki Man Ray (W.W. Norton)
Through the persona of Alice Prin, aka Kiki de Montparnasse, Mark Braude’s book describes the artistic world of Paris in the 1920s. Muse and lover of Man Ray, Kiki was a popular artists’ model and a known singer, painter and writer. Braude’s text illuminates not only Kiki’s free and energetic spirit, but also one of the most brilliant and creative artistic periods of time in Paris. Braude’s thoroughly researched biography illustrates how Kiki became an inspiration for the Surrealists, while also an independent woman of influence. Beautiful and tragic, Kiki Man Ray transports the reader to a time of great creative significance, while at the same time illuminating the life of a woman who explored herself and the world with no fear and lived with tremendous intensity. – Vine Awards Jury

Anais Granofsky,The Girl in the Middle (HarperCollins Publishers)
Granofsky’s memoir brims with grace, warmth and deep intelligence. She describes a childhood divided between Black and white, wealth and poverty. Through personal family history, Granofsky explores the common ground in her Black and Jewish families’ otherwise differing experiences. But it’s the beautiful, fraught relationships with her grandmother on the Bridle Path and her mother in social housing that illustrates the great divide Granofsky had to balance growing up. Her clear and direct prose reflects the empathy she extends to the adults in her childhood, while also not holding back from the at times chaotic and unstable relationships in
her life. Ultimately, The Girl in the Middle is the remarkable story of how one woman defies labels and claims her own identity. – Vine Awards Jury

Gabor Maté, The Myth of Normal (Knopf Canada)
Internationally renowned physician and healer Gabor Maté chronicles his life experience dealing with trauma and mental health and reflects on the social implications of the ways health is handled in an increasingly toxic world. Following the Greek physician, Galen who stated “the best physician is also a philosopher,” Maté and Maté offer a radically thoughtful approach to the wounds of our world, suggesting new ways of bearing witness to personal and social diseases. Far removed from medical jargon, this book intimately explores Maté’s own
health journey and invites readers to reconsider theirs. From the intricacies of brain chemistry to rethinking what is deemed “normal,” the breadth of scope in the book is astounding. Beautifully written, with clear, accessible prose, this book changes the modern-day discussion on health and healing. – Vine Awards Jury


Judy Battalion, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos (HarperCollins Publishers)
The image of women in the Resistance is often limited to being seen as just couriers. Batalion rebalances history by telling the stories of the many valiant women who fought the Nazis with courage and ingenuity, and in the process were responsible for saving countless lives. This well- researched book personalizes about two dozen of these unknown heroes, whose actions were as audacious and efficient as their male counterparts. These stories, which at times read like a novel, engage the reader with warm and compelling descriptions of the women’s lives and actions.  – Vine Awards Jury

Mark Celinscak, Kingdom of Night: Witnesses to the Holocaust (University of Toronto Press)
After the Allied victory of 1945, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp became the largest displaced-persons camp in Europe, with the Canadian army responsible for up to 10,000 Jewish refugees. This book offers a lively description of the efforts, failures and support of the many Canadians involved, while also bearing witness to a great humanitarian tragedy. Both the experiences of the survivors and the actions of Canadian soldiers are described here in a humane and thoughtful way. This book sheds light on an important period of Canadian history that is largely forgotten, while adding valuable perspective to Holocaust studies. – Vine Awards

Jeffrey Veidinger, In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust (HarperCollins Publishers)
This meticulously researched book invites the reader to a renewed understanding of the notion of pogrom by analyzing the situation of Jews who experienced this new form of violence in Ukraine between 1918 and 1921. Using long-neglected materials and recently opened Soviet archives, Veidlinger reveals many facets in the genesis, organization, practice and acceptance of this criminal path to the Holocaust. This text clearly differentiates what the Germans could build on and what they brought to the process. This book invites the reader to reflect on the tragic innovations of the 20th century, while gaining new insights into this murderous process. – Vine Awards Jury


Leah Horlick, Moldovan Hotel (Brick Books)
A haunting and haunted collection, yearning for an obliterated past, while rooted in a still- brutal present. The speaker undergoes a journey that generates searing poems flashing back and forward with fear, anger, longing, and astonishment. Horlick approaches the infinite question of Who will I have been? with an obscure clarity, like all the best poets and poems. –Vine Awards Jury

Aaron Kreuter, Shifting Baseline Syndrome (University of Regina Press)
These witty, smart, and surreal poems have energy and surprise to spare as they grapple with the end of the world with goofy smiles on their faces. Do poems even have faces? Kreuter might think so, especially in the Jewish philosophical sense of the Face calling to an ethical relation beyond meaning. Spend a day with Kreuter’s capacious and quirky mind and we guarantee you’ll learn as much about life and living on as you do snacking on chips in front of the TV. – Vine Awards Jury

Adam Sol, Broken Dawn Blessings (ECW Press)
A beautifully written book steeped in love, fear, and a world broken by trauma. Sol’s deeply wrought, lonely, sometimes funny and angry poems bear witness to private and public violence in the only way they can, through language. Stripped to the core, the speaker leans on daily prayers whispered for generations, blessing us with shattered and shattering words of powerlessness, gratitude, and wonder. – Vine Awards Jury

Young Adult/Children’s

Cary Fagan, Water, Water (Tundra Books)
In this dreamlike, post-apocalyptic middle grade novel, Rafe wakes up to discover his bedroom is floating in a vast sea of water. With only his dog for company, Rafe must meet the challenge of how to survive when his world has been turned upside down. Touching on themes of climate change, personal growth and found community, Fagan roots the reader in a high fantasy, while expertly weaving in bigger questions about grief, fear and loss. – Vine Awards Jury

Charlotte Schallié, But I Live: Three Stories of Child Survivors of the Holocaust (New Jewish Press)
A stunning co-creation of three graphic-novelists and four child survivors of the Holocaust. The three illustrated stories depict experiences from before, during and after the Shoah. Intimate, powerful, traumatic and inspiring, these stories draw the reader into vivid visual journeys. An essential, captivating book for young people that keeps the stories of survivors alive. – Vine Awards Jury

Erin Silver, Sitting Shiva (Orca Book Publishers)
A beautiful, sensitive picture book about parental loss, grief and the importance of community. A little girl grieves the loss of her mother while she and her father sit shiva. She wants to be alone, and refuses to come downstairs with all the visitors. But eventually she learns how to take comfort in the support she gets from family and friends. The soft illustrations and gentle text never shy away from the pain of loss, but also depict hope and strength during a devastating time. – Vine Awards Jury

In addition to the winners ceremony, the Koffler is presenting two moderated panel featuring shortlisted Vine Awards authors on September 10 from 11:30am to 1:30pm at Holy Blossom Temple. This event is free and open to the public; registration required. Register here!

The Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature are made possible by a generous donation from the Lillian and Norman Glowinsky Family Foundation to support Canadian Jewish literature, a tradition they established with the original awards in 2004, building on the Canadian Jewish Book Awards founded in 1988 by Adam Fuerstenberg. The Vine Awards are a loving tribute to Lillian’s parents – Helen and Stan Vine – who were passionate about the arts and the Jewish community throughout their lives. 

All 2023 Vine Awards shortlisted titles can be purchased from benmcnallybooks.com.   
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