mysteries

What’s best to read?

Part 2: Adult literary awards and endorsements

Pulitzer Prize is generally accepted as a mark of excellence. There are seven American Pulitzer Prizes awarded annually for Letters, Drama, amd Music. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction now includes short stories, novellas, novellettes, and poetry. Other Pulitzer Prizes for writing include non-fiction such as history, biography/memoir, drama, and journalism. We can look forward to the 2024 award list in May.

Another notable award is Booker Prize. The aim of the Booker Prize is to stimulate the reading and discussion of contemporary fiction. This award recognizes long-form fiction written in English. Likewise, there is the International Booker Prize that recognizes a work of fiction from any non-English speaking country which contains translation to English. Recently awarded the Booker Prize in 2023 was The Prophet Song by Irish writer Paul Lynch. The International Booker Prize in 2023 was awarded to Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel for Time Shelter.

One more distinctive award is the Kirkus Prize. The Kirkus Review is a literary publication which examines books in three categories: Fiction, Nonfiction and Young Readers’ Literature. The Kirkus Review evaluates books based on their literary and artistic merit. Kirkus Reviews occur prepublication and offer the author and publisher marketing material with a good review. The review team are a professional mix from the book industry that includes librarians, booksellers and nationally published journalists. In 2023 The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction.

An interesting award is the National Book Award granted through the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is “to celebrate the best literature published in the United States, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in our culture.” Their mission is reflected in the panel of reviewers which includes a blend of authors, educators, librarians, booksellers, and literary arts professionals. Awards are given in five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, Young People’s Literature. Justin Torres, author of Blackouts won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction.

However, the Nobel Prize in Literature, presented by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden is the most prestigious. According to the will of Alfred Nobel, the award goes to those who, “conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” The Nobel Committee for Literature is invited to participate through a formal letter process and members are elected for three years by the Academy. The award for Literature goes to the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction. In 2023 Norwegian author Jon Fosse was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”