Joseph Kertes, founder of the Humber School for Writers and dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Toronto's Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, has won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for his 2008 novel Gratitude.
Kertes's Holocaust-themed novel, set in German-occupied Hungary during the final months of the Second World War, is one of 18 books in various categories recognized by the awards, which are overseen by the Jewish Book Council in New York City.
A Globe and Mail review in March 2008 praised Gratitude for being "as rich in picturesque detail as it is in its spellbinding faith in man's ultimate humanity."
"I feel lucky to have won such a prestigious award," Kertes said in an e-mail today. "I was trying to write a story about people living through bad times and triumphing, prevailing over adversity. This story is more theirs than mine. I was merely their secret and now not-so-secret admirer. I am humbled."
Kertes (pictured above) and the other award winners will be honoured at a gala event in New York City on March 9.
Among the past winners of the award are Bernard Malamud, Cynthia Ozick, Chaim Potok, Philip Roth, I.B. Singer and Elie Wiesel.