If you have been following this blog recently, you will have noticed I have been reading selections from the shortlists/winners of literary prizes. This was a response to the disappointing (for me) Man Booker Prize shortlist. One thing I did discover is that there are far more literary prizes than I had imagined. Wikipedia has a list, though it is not complete (e.g. the Folio Prize and Dylan Thomas Prize do not seem to be there.) There are far more there you and I could possibly have ever heard of. Quite a few are excluded for the purposes of my current exercise: those only in languages I cannot read; those who give the award to an individual rather than to a specific book (e.g. the Nobel Prize); those who give the award only to genre fiction and those who give the award to a work which is not a novel, either because the rules do not allow novels or because it allows other types of writing and one of these types won it this year.
However, even allowing for these exclusions, there are many literary prizes for which I did not read a shortlisted book/winner. Indeed, had I wanted to, I could easily have continued till next year and still not read a book from every literary prize shortlist. And who has heard of all of these, outside the publishing world? Does winning, for example, the Dylan Thomas Prize or the Waverton Good Read Award resonate beyond the author’s immediate family, friends and publisher/agent? Have you heard of either and/or can you name the most recent or any winners? No, nor can I. More publicity for authors and books is certainly to be welcomed and, of course, even the Nobel Prize brings forth cries of Who is this guy?, particularly from the English-speaking world. Nevertheless I wonder, do we need all of these prizes?
So this year, this is what I read. Some are cheats, in that I had read them before and was not aware that they had made the various shortlists. Some are duplicated in that some books seem to hoover up the prizes or, at least, hoover up the shortlists (congratulations Eleanor Catton and Eimar McBride). The country name indicates the host country of the prize, not necessarily the nationality of the individual shortlisted/winning authors. Note that the links to the prize are either to the official site, where that exists or is kept up to date or, if not, to an announcement, usually in the press. Many of these will be in the original language, rather than English. It is amazing how many of the official sites fail to update their details. To give one example, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction still tells us that the winner will be announced June 4 (they must mean 4 June, the normal English way of writing it).
Ignoring those that were actually published in 2013 (Hello again, Eimear McBride and Eleanor Catton), I did read some interesting books that I may not have otherwise read. I particularly enjoyed Meursault, contre-enquête [Meursault, Counter Investigation]; Lutz Seiler: Kruso; Francesco Piccolo: Il desiderio di essere come tutti [The Desire to be Like Everyone]; Jorge Franco: El mundo de afuera [The World Outside]; Gertrud Leutenegger: Panischer Frühling [Panic Spring] and Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven and was disappointed with Carmen Amoraga: La vida era eso [Such Was Life] and not too impressed with Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North. While I probably will not repeat the exercise next year, it does show me that some interesting books can be found by scouring the literary prize shortlists. I would like to hope that publishers are doing the same and are picking some of these out for translation into English as clearly some are very much deserving. Congratulations to all of these for making the shortlist and, for those who won, for winning, with, again, special congratulations to Eleanor Catton and Eimear McBride.
Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards: Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North; Fiona McFarlane: The Night Guest (both shortlist; winner not yet announced)
Voss Literary Prize: Fiona McFarlane: The Night Guest; Hannah Kent: Burial Rites; Tim Winton: Eyrie (all shortlist; winner to be announced 19 November)
Prix Goncourt: Clara Dupont Monod: Le roi disait que j’étais diable [The King Said I Was a Devil] (second shortlist); Kamel Daoud: Meursault, contre-enquête [Meursault, Counter Investigation] (final shortlist) (Lydie Salvayre’s Pas Pleurer won)
Prix Renaudot: Clara Dupont Monod: Le roi disait que j’étais diable [The King Said I Was a Devil] (shortlist); Kamel Daoud: Meursault, contre-enquête [Meursault, Counter Investigation] (shortlist) (David Foenkinos’ Charlotte won)
Prix François Mauriac: Kamel Daoud: Meursault, contre-enquête [Meursault, Counter Investigation] (winner)
Prix des 5 continents: Kamel Daoud: Meursault, contre-enquête [Meursault, Counter Investigation] (winner)
Prix Medicis étranger: Vladimir Lorchenkov: Все там будем (The Good Life Elsewhere) (longlist) (Lily Brett: Lola Bensky won)
Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award: Eimear McBride: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (winner); Colum McCann: Transatlantic (shortlist)
Eason Novel of the Year: David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks (shortlist) (winner to be announced 26 November)
Strega: Francesco Piccolo: Il desiderio di essere come tutti [The Desire to be Like Everyone] (winner); Francesco Pecoraro: La vita in tempo di pace [Life in Peacetime] (shortlist)
Premio Letterario Viareggio-Rèpaci: Francesco Pecoraro: La vita in tempo di pace [Life in Peacetime] (winner)
Bad Sex Prize: Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North; Haruki Murakami: 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年 (Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) (both shortlist – winner announced 3 December 2014)
Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction: Eimear McBride: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (winner)
Desmond Elliott Prize: Eimear McBride: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (winner)
Folio Prize: Eimear McBride: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (shortlist) (George Saunders: Tenth of December won)
International Dylan Thomas Prize: Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries; Eimear McBride: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (both shortlist) (Joshua Ferris: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour won)
Man Booker: Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North (winner)
Walter Scott Prize: Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries; Kate Atkinson: Life After Life; Jim Crace: Harvest (all shortlist) (Robert Harris: An Officer and a Spy won)
Waterstones Book of the Year: Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North (shortlist) (winner announced 1 December)