Professor Shlomo Sand, the Tel Aviv University history professor and author of a controversial book on the genetic origins of the Jews, this week received a top critics prize from French journalists.

Sand, whose book "When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?" ignited controversy in Israel and in Jewish circles, is the recipient of the Aujourd'hui Award, which is given to the best non-fiction political or historical work.

The book, which was published by the Resling imprint, spent 19 weeks on the bestseller list in Israel. Though it has been in bookstores for just six months in France, it has thus far sold 25,000 copies, good enough to remain on the bestseller list.

Sand's book deals with questions that remain taboo in Israeli society, among them the ancestral origins of the Jewish people and the genetic lineage shared with modern-day Israelis.

Past winners of the prize include French intellectual Raymond Aron, literary critic George Steiner, author Milan Kundera, and historian Francois Pare.