Jonathan Rosen Wins 2005 Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction Joy Comes in the Morning Wins Praise of Distinguished Judges
Nov. 7, 2005 Author Jonathan Rosen has won the 2005 Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction for Joy Comes in the Morning (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), his second novel. The prize carries a $5,000 award.
The judges also named one finalist for the 2005 prize: Nicole Krauss, for her novel The History of Love (WW Norton & Company).
The Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction was created in 2003 by Dr. Alexander Mauskop, a Larchmont, NY, neurologist, to encourage promising Jewish fiction writers. To qualify, a writer must be a resident of the United States or Canada and have written a novel or short story collection in English on a Jewish theme.
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel serves as honorary chair of the prize committee. The judges were Sanford Pinsker, Shadek Professor of Humanities at Franklin and Marshall College; Wendy Zierler, assistant professor of feminist studies and modern Jewish literature at Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion; and Janet Burstein, Professor of English at Drew University.
The Jewish issues raised by Rosen were so powerful, there was no choice when it came to deciding the winner, they wrote in their decision to award the prize to Rosen.
Joy Comes in the Morning chronicles the pleasures and struggles of Rabbi Deborah Green, a young Reform rabbi who craves goodness and surety while wrestling with her own desires and doubts. Her life changes when she meets Lev, a science reporter who abandoned his fiancée at the altar, and she finds herself in a love triangle with God as the third, maddeningly elusive, player. Drawing comparisons to Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and E.L. Doctorow, Rosens novel examines questions of faith and existence, inheritance, compassion, and free will with both humor and extraordinary emotional insight.
Joy Comes in the Morning was published in September 2004 to glowing reviews from both the Jewish and secular press. The Boston Globe called Joy Comes in the Morning A minor miracle, noting that the book is a window into the heart of faith, both its joys and its sorrows a deeply moving story, and the New York Times wrote "Not since E.L. Doctorow's City of God have we seen such a literary effort to plumb the nature of belief-in Jewish-American culture, in Talmudic study, in prayer, in sex, in the very soundness of one's own mind." Publishers Weekly stated that Rosen writes with uncommon assurance about contemporary Judaism, whether the subject is family dynamics or the insecurities, comedies, and small pleasures of everyday rabbinic life.
In addition to the Reform Judaism Prize, Rosen also received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and the Chaim Potok Literary Award.
Rosen, who is currently editing a series of short books on Jewish subjects for Nextbook/Schocken, is also the author of the novel Eves Apple and The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds, which was chosen as a New York Times notable book of the year. All three of his books are available in paperback from Picador. In 1990, he created the Arts & Letters section of the Forward, which he oversaw for 10 years. His essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and several anthologies. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.