Deconstructing Literary Prizes

1. “The point of prizes, presumably, is to establish literary standards, honor worthy work and the writers of it, and enlarge the audience for fine fiction by bringing it to wider public notice than its publishers can bear to.”

2. During the annual book award season, which runs from the Nobel Announcement in the fall to the Pulitzer in the spring, there are many complaints that the majors awards are dooming themselves into irrelevance by making obscure selections.

3. The irony of this position is that most of the soi disant ‘serious readers’, who apparently number no more than 4,000 in the United States, have a great fascination for the neglected classics, the lost masterpieces long out of print. This dissonance comes out of an acknowledgment of the various levels of utility involved in the awards process itself and the competing interests of the awarding institution.

72 more notes at 75 Notes For An Unwritten Essay on Literary Prizes.

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