Literary Awards

Recognizing Excellence in Literary Fiction

Not all writers get the million dollar book deals. Most spend their time writing enough to scrape out a living or supplement a day job. Writers are a creative bunch and like to support and acknowledge one another for good writing with awards. Some are judged by their peers, other by the sponsors of the awards.

Writing awards vary in degree from all over the world. Even your local writing group (state or provincial) could offer some award of excellence. Below is a listing of some of world’s most prestigious awards recognizing quality in literary fiction.

Now why would any care about these awards? Do these awards really mean they are better than all the other fiction available? No, of course not. There is a lot of wonderful fiction that just can’t be recognized by the awards system. These awards are like the Oscars are to movies. They are just showing appreciation for the art. And taking the guess work out of your seasonal reading list.

Governor General’s Literary Awards – Named for the Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir. This annual award of excellence has been manned by the Canada Arts Council since 1959. They honor both English and French books in seven categories.
* Country of Origin – Canada
* Inaugural – 1936
* Prize – $15,000 and a specially crafted copy of their book
* When – November, annually
* Notable Winners – David Walker, Gabrielle Roy, Alice Munro

Man Booker Prize for Fiction – It use to be know as the Booker Prize before it changed sponsors in 2002. The website has a full history of the prize, winner bios and shortlists. To be on the long and short list is also an honour. The prize is awarded to the best original novel by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland in English.
* Country of Origin – United Kingdom
* Inaugural – 1969
* Prize – 50,000 pounds
* When – October, annually
* Notable Winners – Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje

National Book Award – Awarded for the best book by a living US citizen published in the US.
Phenomenal information at their official website for the awards, winners and reading lists. They have many other programs for encouraging reading.
* Country of Origin – United States
* Inaugural – 1950
* Prize – $10,000 and a bronze sculpture
* When – October, annually
* Notable Winners – William Faulkner, Alice Walker, John Irving, Conrad Richter

PEN/Faulkner Award – National award for best work by an American author, there are also four nominees. When William Faulkner won his Nobel Prize he donated the money to create another writing award. They’ve kept up the tradition. The winner is picked by three writers. The Pen American Center offers numerous other awards for fiction (http://www. Pen.org)
* Country of Origin – United States
* Inaugural – 1980
* Prize – $15,000
* When – May, annually
* Notable Winners – David Guterson, Philip Roth

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – This award was started by Joseph Pulitzer and used to be the prize for a novel until 1947. There are a number of different Pulitzers for photography, journalism, etc. It’s awarded to an American author about a story dealing with American life.
* Country of Origin – United States
* Inaugural – 1917 novel, 1948 fiction
* Prize – $10, 000
* When – May, annually
* Notable Winners – Carol Shields, Harper Lee

Commonwealth Prize for Fiction – An international award for “outstanding literary talent” in the Commonwealth. There’s one for best book and best first book involving novels or a collection of short stories.
* Country of Origin – England
* Inaugural – 1987
* Prize – 10,000 pounds
* When – Annually, February
* Notable Winners – Andrea Levy, Rohinton Mistry

Orange Prize for Fiction – This prize is for a woman author who produces the best full-length novel in English published for the first time in the UK Judged exclusively by women. In 2005 they added a new award, The Orange Award for New Writers in honor of their 10th anniversary.
* Country of Origin – England
* Inaugural – 1996
* Prize – 30,000 pounds and a bronze figurine called “Bessie”
* When – June, annually
* Notable Winners – Andrea Levy, Valerie Martin, Ann Patchett, Carol Shields

Nobel Prize for Literature – Awards also awarded for physics, chemistry, medicine and peace. Unlike other awards the winner is chosen for their body of work. Their official website is extensive. You can get to know previous winners and watch video feeds of interviews and speeches.
* Country of Origin – Sweden
* Inaugural – 1901
* Prize – 10 million Swedish Kroner (just over 1 million US), gold medal, diploma
* When – October, annually
* Notable Winners – William Golding, Thomas Mann

Originally published 8/28/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnlne

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