Award winning authors get widespread recognition, boosted book sales, and a sizable cheque for their literary prowess.
Literature awards are usually founded in honour of someone who loved reading or was a well known writer. Their estates go towards promoting and rewarding the best books and authors of the year. Each book prize continues a legacy of literary love and greatness.
Winning authors don’t just write good stories, they shape how society sees an issue or a people group. Their work is infectious, spreading ideas that tug at the root of who we are.
Here are five of the biggest prizes in literature. Any author winning one of these is not only cut a decent cheque, but their work is worth digging into.
Doris Giller was a journalist from Montreal who started reporting for the Montreal Star when she was 32. In 1981, she became the Book Review Editor at the Montreal Gazette. Books were her home. She carved an name for herself by writing about the literary talent in Canada.
When cancer took Doris in 1993, her husband, Jack Rabinovitch, wanted to immortalize her name. He knew the best way to do that was by honouring and awarding Canada’s finest literary talent. Thus, the Giller Prize was born.
In the beginning, the winner was awarded $25,000. Now, prize is $100,000. Scotiabank became an official partner in 2005, helping expand the prize’s prestige and winnings. The Scotiabank Giller Prize is the biggest literary prize in Canada right now.
On November 7th, 2016, this year’s Giller Prize winner will be announced. One of the shortlisted authors, Gary Barwin, is from Hamilton. One of the members on this year’s jury, Lawrence Hill, is also from Hamilton.
Here are some previous Giller Prize winners (click on an image to make it bigger):
Man Booker Prize
The Booker Prize was founded in 1969 to award the best original novel in the Commonwealth. Only in 2013 was it expanded to any English language novel published in the UK.
The purpose of the Man Booker Prize is to promote fiction around the world. That’s certainly been the case for the past 30+ years. Novels that win, and even novels that are shortlisted, see a dramatic increase in sales world-wide. Shortlisted authors get 2,500 Pounds; the winner gets 50,000 Pounds.
Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout, won the Man Booker Prize this year. He is the first American to win the prize.
Here are some Man Booker Prize Winners (again, click for a larger image):
National Book Award
The National Book Award started on March 16th, 1950, as “an award given to writers by writers.” For years, only published writers sat on the jury. Awards were handed out for best fiction, non-fiction, and poetry works. The awards were organized and funded by many of the top associations in the American book publishing industry.
The Award has changed a lot over its 66 years, at one point being called “The American Book Awards”. The vision always remained the same — to recognize the finest American literature and give it a broader audience. Since 2013, the Award is judged by field experts as well as writers, and there is a fourth category for Young People’s Literature. Now, more than ever, The National Book Award, is considered to promote the highest standard of American literature.
The winner of each category gets $10,000 and finalists get $1,000.
Here are some National Book Award Winners (you know what to do):
Nobel Prize for Literature
Alfred Nobel loved poetry and literature, much to his father’s dismay. Although he was a brilliant Chemical Engineer with 355 patents in his name, he also had a library of over 1,500 books. Alfred wrote poetry, a couple novels, and a couple plays as well. In his time, Alfred was best known for inventing dynamite. His reputation wasn’t for promoting peace.
Alfred left the majority of his estate to the formation of five prizes in physics, medicine, chemistry, literature and the promotion of peace. This caused such controversy that it took four years for his money to be consolidated so that the first prizes could be awarded. In 1901, the first Nobel prizes were handed out.
Now there is a sixth prize awarded in the field of Economic Sciences. Each winner receives 8 Million SEK (Swedish Kronor), which equals almost $1.2 Million CAD. This year, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Here are some books by Nobel Laureates:
Most people only recognize the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, but there are also Pulitzers for music, drama, fiction and several forms of non-fiction.
The founder, Joseph Pulitzer, was a well establish newspaper publisher in the 19th century. He owned the New York World and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Like Alfred Nobel, Joseph willed a significant portion of his estate to the formation of the prizes. Today there are 21 prizes in all. In Literature, there is a prize for fiction, biography, American history, poetry, and general non-fiction that doesn’t fit any of the other categories.
Each prize winner gets a certificate and $10,000 USD, except for the Public Service prize winner (in journalism), who gets a gold medal.
Here are some novels by Pulitzer Prize winners: