Professor Omer Friedlander Shortlisted for William Saroyan Literary Prize

Carlos Barragán
June 05, 2024

Adjunct Assistant Professor Omer Friedlander has been shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for his short-story collection The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land (Random House, 2022). This prestigious award, presented by Stanford University Libraries, is celebrating its eleventh year, honoring originality and stylistic innovation in both fiction and non-fiction. The prize awards $5,000 in each category.

Friedlander’s stories transport readers to the diverse landscapes of Jerusalem, the Negev Desert, and Jaffa. His characters include a divorced con artist and his daughter selling empty bottles of “holy air” to credulous tourists; a Lebanese Scheherazade enchanting three young soldiers in a bombed-out Beirut radio station; a boy who daringly “rooftops” at night, climbing steel cranes in scuffed sneakers even as he reimagines the bravery of a Polish-Jewish dancer during the Holocaust; an Israeli volunteer at a West Bank checkpoint who mourns the death of her son, a soldier killed in Gaza.

Winners and finalists will be announced in late summer or early fall. The complete list of shortlisted authors can be here.

Omer Friedlander is the winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries Fiction Award and a finalist for the Wingate Prize. The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land was chosen as an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Book for outstanding achievement in Jewish Literature and longlisted for the Story Prize. Omer has a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MFA from Boston University, where he was supported by the Saul Bellow Fellowship. He was a Starworks Fellow in Fiction at New York University. His collection has been translated into several languages, including Turkish, Dutch, Slovak, and Italian. His writing has been supported by the Bread Loaf Fellowship and Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. He currently lives in New York City.