(JTA) – Ayelet Tsabari, the Israeli-Canadian author of The Best Place On Earth: Stories, won the 2015 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
Tsabari takes home $100,000 for winning the prize, which was announced Monday in a statement by the Jewish Book Council.
Her book explores Israeli history through Jewish characters of Middle Eastern and North African descent.
“I grew up not seeing myself and my family in literature, so writing The Best Place on Earth was a way to create the characters that were missing from my childhood stories,” Tsabari said in the Jewish Book Council statement. “By portraying characters of Mizrahi background I was hoping to complicate readers’ perceptions of Israel and Jewishness, and to expand and broaden their ideas of what a Jewish story and Jewish experience can be.”
The runner-up was Kenneth Bonert, author of The Lion Seeker: A Novel. He receives $25,000.
The Rohr Prize, which has been given annually since 2007, considers works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years.
It was created by the late businessman and philanthropist Sami Rohr to recognize emerging writers who articulate the Jewish experience as determined by a specific work, as well as the author’s potential to make significant ongoing contributions to Jewish literature.
Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex, won the prize last year.
This year, for the first time, the winners and finalists will be celebrated at a public program, on May 6 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. The Jewish Book Council and the museum are co-sponsoring the event.