Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Award Roundup (AKA how is anyone suposed to stay on top of this?)

I consider myself to be someone who is interested in and generally on top of what is going on in the literary world. I read reviews, book blogs, listen to book podcasts: but this year I've found myself absolutely overwhelmed by the so-called book award season. It seems every where I turn I'm hearing about another book award long list, short list, winner, runner up.... It's hard enough to keep up with who is winning what: let alone find time to read all these award winning titles.

But awards mean something to me. I like to read an award winner: to agree or disagree with the judges decision. I like a book that has people talking and reading, so that I can read and talk about it myself. Fiction is my main interest—not to ignore the prizes honouring great nonfiction, poetry and plays, but there's already enough to keep on top of with just the fiction accolades.

So, if like me, you're feeling a bit overwhelmed: here's a little recap of the last few weeks.

We might as well start back in October, as I feel like that's when I first feel behind. On October 7th, the Nobel foundation announced that Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was this year's recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Jump forward a week, and you got the announcement of this year's Man Booker Prize: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. There was a fair bit of buzz over the Jacobson selection—The Finkler Question is the first comic novel to win the Booker. More recently, The National Book Awards were given out and the fiction prize went to Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule.

October and November saw a run in the Canadian Prize circuit as well. The Scotiabank Giller Prize's much talked about small press winner was The Sentimentalists by first time novelist Johanna Skibsrud. Although, back in October, before all the small press attention in the big prize world, Canada's prize that focuses on small press literature announced it's winners. The ReLit Award for fiction went to The Beautiful Children by Michael Kenyon, and the short story prize to Stuart Ross' Buying Cigarettes for the Dog.

With all the Giller media uproar over what Nova Scotia printer Gaspereau Press was going to do in order to get the winning book into readers' hands, it seemed like this year's Governor General's Awards got a bit overlooked. The winner for English fiction was Cool Water by another debut novelist, Dianne Warren. If the GGs got pushed to the background, this year's announcement of the winner of Canada's other big fiction award—The Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize—seemed positively lost: it went to Emma Donoghue for her already bestselling novel Room.

So, I think that makes me up-to-date? There is probably something I've missed: let me know in the comments below. And with these winners noted, we can now sit back and wait for the nominees and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prizes, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, the Orange Prize and more, which are all upcoming in the first half of 2011. Why is it again that the fall is considered book award season?

And just to give you a taste of what's to come: the Dublin IMPAC award announced its extremely long longlist this month. You can see the 162 nominated titles on their website, although you may want to wait and give your attention to the pared down short list which will be announced in April.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you Kristina, for getting ME up to date on all these contests (maybe there are a few too many now?) I have gotten completely lost and confused this year - but this was very informative. I hope you do a synopsis of the ones coming up in 2011, too. I haven't yet read ANY of these - usually I've read at least a few - but I'm not reading as much these days, sadly. Too busy, I'm asleep before I hit the pillow at night. I may have to "schedule" a daytime slot for reading, my bedroom pile is getting so tall! Good post!