Congratulations, Matti Friedman! His book, The Aleppo Codex, was named a finalist for the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
The award “recognizes the unique role of contemporary writers in the transmission and examination of the Jewish experience. It is intended to encourage and promote outstanding writing of Jewish interest,” as the Jewish Book Council explains on its website. “Each year, the prize of $100,000 aims to reward an emerging writer whose work has demonstrated a fresh vision and evidence of further growth.”
The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World’s Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books certainly falls into that category. Matti’s true-life detective story traces how the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing. It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book. What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.
The Rohr Prize considers fiction and non-fiction books in alternate years. The winner will be announced at a gala in the spring. Click here for the list of the five finalists.