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On Literary Prizes

Although literary prizes have introduced to me some of my most relished writers, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro to name a few, I don’t judge a book on the merit of its accolade alone. Even with the Booker prize, a small panel of judges pick the winner from a shortlist of books that only reflect their tastes. Over the recent years prizes have become just an easy way for the book industry to market the products. Look at the “Winner of xxx Award” and “Shortlisted for xxx Prize” stickers on the covers. Every book has its audience and it might take years for a book to find its perfect-matched readers. A good book will not exhaust its possibilities even if it doesn’t get piled high in the supermarket, invited to the top tables in the bookshops, or advertised on the sides of buses. Real readers will find the books they enjoy regardless of what the media would have pulled in the campaign because real readers focus on the content of the books and not the prizes they are awarded.

3 Responses

  1. Surely part of the idea of prizes is to coax in some of those unreal readers to take more interest in books?

    • Of course that would be a good way to attract new readers. Literary Prize would be a guideline. But more seasoned readers would look pass the prizes.

      • It seems every year like the publicity for the previous year’s prize has only just ended. It all seems to be aimed at stimulating interest in a dying pastime. Rather like classical music festivals televising Music From Hollywood nights, or crossover / hybrid concerts with DJs etc. But what’s the alternative?

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