WCJ Book Awards

AWARDS CEREMONY – Thur April 23, 7:00pm

Fiction – The Nancy Richler Memorial Prize
Non-Fiction – The Pinsky Givon Family Prize
Children/Youth – The Diamond Foundation Prize
Poetry – The Lohn Foundation Prize
Holocaust – The Kahn Family Foundation Prize


An integral part of the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival, The Western Canada Jewish Book Awards initiative is designed to celebrate excellence in writing on Jewish themes / subject and showcase the achievements of authors from Western Canada.
Geographical delineation: for the intent of this award, Western Canada covers the area from West of the Manitoba-Ontario border, including the Northern regions, to the BC coast.

Authors are invited to submit their books by December 15, 2019.
Books published in 2018 and 2019 will be accepted.

•    Fiction
•    Non-fiction
•    Poetry
•    Children and Youth
•    Holocaust

There are currently 2 national Canadian Jewish Book Awards based in Toronto. It is our hope that a Western Canada geographically based awards will achieve our goal of enhancing the literary scene west of the Ontario Manitoba border and will encourage more authors to enter their books into the competition.

Geographical delineation: for the intentions of this award, Western Canada is considered from West of the Manitoba-Ontario border, including the Northern regions, to the BC coast.

The author must have lived in Western Canada for the past 12 months or have lived in Western Canada for at least 3 of the past 5 years.
A book written by a non-Jewish author is eligible if in accordance with the following criteria.
Eligible books:
Containing significant Jewish content or theme.
•    Written by an eligible author (see above).
•    Written in English or available in English.
•    Published in English or in the English translation between the dates published on this site.
•    Have a 13 digit ISBN, including eBooks.
•    Books with Jewish content written by non-Jewish authors are eligible.
•    Graphic books are eligible.

Judging Prize information
The books will be judged by independent industry professionals. The jury will be comprised of 5 judges, to be drawn from a larger pool including judges from all Western provinces.  The winners will be announced by mid-April. An Awards soiree and event will take place at a later date in the spring. There will be a monetary award of $2,000 for each winning author.

How to submit a book for the award
1.   Download the WCJBA Submission form 2020
2.    Mail or deliver in person the following items for each book submitted:
•  A complete entry form
•  5 copies of the book
•  $50 entry fee per prize category
Send to:
JCC Jewish Book Festival
Attn: Dana Camil Hewitt
950 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 2N7

Contact Dana Camil Hewitt, JBF director at: 604-257-5156 or jbf@jccgv.bc.ca

Winners of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards

Fiction – Diamond Foundation Prize 2018
Deborah Willis – The Dark and Other Love Stories
“The emotional range and depth of Willis’s stories, the clarity and deftness, are astonishing.”—Alice Munro

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted.  The Dark and Other Love Stories announces the emergence of a wonderfully gifted storyteller whose stories enlarge our perceptions about the human capacity to love.

Deborah Willis’ first book Vanishing and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and named one of the Globe and Mail’s top 10 books of the year. She lives in Calgary, Alberta.


Non-Fiction – The Pinsky Givon Family Prize 2018
Tilar J. Mazzeo – Irena’s Children
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


Children/Youth – the Jonathan and Heather Berkowitz Prize 2018
Irene N. Watts – Seeking Refuge
Kathryn E. Shoemaker (illustrator) – Seeking Refuge

Seeking Refuge captures Irene Watts’ experiences when she was sent to England from Germany on the Kindertransport at the age of seven. This was a military operation that saved almost 10,000 Jewish children during WWII.

“Author and illustrator show their collaborative finesse in a wonderfully rendered marriage between text and art. A book that invites close reading, this will spark interest in the plight of all refugees.”IRENE N. WATTS has written poems, plays, novels and non-fiction books. As a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, she wrote and directed plays for young audiences to be performed at schools.

KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER is the illustrator of more than 40 books for children. She has broad experience as an art teacher, curriculum specialist, filmmaker, fund raiser and event designer. She teaches children’s literature at UBC.


Holocaust – the Kahn Family Foundation Prize 2018
Roger Frie – Not in My Family : German Memory and Responsibility after the Holocaust

In this extraordinary and highly absorbing book, Canadian author Roger Frie confronts an unspoken Nazi  history in his German family. With remarkable courage, he seeks to transform his family narrative into an understanding of the Holocaust’s forbidding reality. The son of German postwar immigrants who were children during World War II, and with grandparents who were participants in the War, he uses the history of his family to explore the moral and psychological implications of memory against the backdrop of one of humanity’s darkest periods.

ROGER FRIE is a psychologist and philosopher educated in London and Cambridge. He is Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University,  Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at UBC and Faculty and Supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York.