Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Anne and Robert Cowan Writers Award

San Francisco, CA – The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and the Cowan Award Committee are pleased to announce that the 2015 Cowan Writers Award will be given to Michael David Lukas ($5,000), with a runner-up prize awarded to Jason K. Friedman ($1,000). The Anne and Robert Cowan Writers Award recognizes Bay Area writers who have made an exceptional contribution to literary arts through a uniquely Jewish perspective. The Award is made possible through an endowed grant from Anne and Robert Cowan. There will be a ceremony for the award winners on February 23, 2016, at the Jewish Community Library at 7:00pm (located at 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco). We are also now accepting nominations for the 2016 Cowan Award – the deadline is March 11, 2016.

“The Anne and Robert Cowan Writers Award Committee is thrilled to present this year’s award to Michael David Lukas for his profound ability to weave Jewish history, philosophy and tradition into his epic and beautifully told stories,” said Sari Swig, chair of the Award committee.”

“Anne and Robert Cowan gave our community a true and lasting gift by endowing this award at the Federation,” said David Katznelson, the Federation’s Director of Strategy. “The work of the Federation is inspired by the teachings of the Torah as well as generations of Jewish writers and philosophers. As people of the Book, we understand the need to shine a light on the new, emerging important voices in our community.”

Michael David Lukas has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a night-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a waiter at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont. Translated into more than a dozen languages, his first novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, was a finalist for the California Book Award, the NCIBA Book of the Year Award, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, he is a recipient of scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Santa Maddalena Foundation, Montalvo Arts Center, New York State Summer Writers' Institute, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Elizabeth George Foundation. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, National Geographic Traveler, and Georgia Review. He lives in Oakland and currently teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University.

Jason K. Friedman's first book of stories, Fire Year, won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. The first story in that collection, “Blue,” won the Moment-Karma Short Fiction Contest and was published in Moment. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The South Carolina Review, and Mission at Tenth, and is forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review and Jonathan. Friedman has been anthologized in Best American Gay Fiction, The Queer South, and the cultural studies reader Goth, and his story "The Golem" was Storyville's story of the month. His novel The Creek Is Gone was runner-up in the Associated Writing Programs Prize in the Novel, and he's published two children's books, Phantom Trucker and Haunted Houses.

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For immediate release

December 04, 2015


Ilan Kayatsky