WEST HARTFORD – The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford presented Sara Houghteling, a Fulbright Scholar and a high school English teacher from California, with the 2009 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her debut novel, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” at a ceremony held on April 15 at the university.
Established more than 45 years ago by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford, the award honors the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of “The Pawnbroker” and other works of fiction. Considered today one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States, it is presented to an American Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew. Other Wallant Award winners include Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Chaim Potok and Myla Goldberg.
Houghteling graduated from Harvard College in 1999 and received her Master’s in fine arts from the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to Paris, first prize in the Avery and Jules Hopwood Awards, and a John Steinbeck Fellowship. “Pictures at an Exhibition” tells the story of Max Berenzon, who is born to an art dealer and his pianist wife. Forbidden from entering the family business for reasons he cannot understand, he reluctantly attends medical school. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding. They return in 1944 to find that their priceless art collection has vanished. Driven to recover his father’s paintings, Max navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators.