Cheat Sheet to Popular Book Awards

September 25, 2016

Cheat Sheet to Popular Book Awards

Cheat Sheet to Popular Book Awards


There are a lot of literary awards from around the world, but here is your cheat sheet to a few important and famous ones. Check the award winners for each of these annually to add to your “To Be Read” (TBR) list.

Man Booker Prize for Fiction 

More commonly known as the Booker Prize, this is an annual literary prize awarded to the best original novel written in English and published in the UK. Historically, this prize was awarded only to citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. In 2013 it was announced that the prize would be opened to authors anywhere in the world with the stipulations that their book be written in English and published in the UK.

The selection committee for the Booker Prize is diverse including writers, publishers, literary agents, booksellers, and librarians. The judging committee is usually selected from leading literary critics, writers, academics, and leading public figures. This award has quite a buildup of anticipation and fanfare, a measure of international renown and great significance for the book trade industry. The 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Winner was Marlon James for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.

National Book Award

This is an annual US literary award established by the American Booksellers Association. The award is presented annually to US authors for books published in the US during the award year. Each award is presented by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1988 to enhance the National Book Awards in the fields of education and literacy by sponsoring public appearances for writers. Each chosen book is a celebration of America’s best literature, expanding its audience and enhancing the culture and value of good writing in the United States. The 2015 Fiction award winner was Adam Johnson for Fortune Smiles.

Nobel Prize in Literature

There are five Nobel Prize categories, with one of them being in Literature. This award has been around since 1901, awarded annually to an author from any country around the world in early October by the Swedish Academy. The prize has had a history of changing the requirements for winning, and is now awarded for lasting literary merit and evidence of consistent idealism on some significant level. In recent years this has meant idealism championing human rights on a wide scale. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this award with critics claiming that either well-known writers haven’t been awarded or that some of those nominated do not deserve it. This is a significant literary award, but not the only benchmark for excellence in the world of literature. The most recent Nobel Laureate in Literature was Svetlana Alexievich from Belarus in 2015.

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

This award is given annually by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to authors of the year’s best works of fiction by living American citizens. Each winner receives $15,000 and four runners-up receive $5,000. The first award was given in 1981 and finalists read their works during a presentation ceremony in the Great Hall of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation was created from William Faulkner’s generosity in using his 1949 Nobel Prize winnings to create the William Faulkner Foundation to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers. The foundation’s first award was to John Knowles for A Separate Peace in 1961. The foundation was dissolved in 1970 and then the PEN/Faulkner Award was created in 1979 in honor of the original foundation. The most recent recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award was James Hannaham for Delicious Foods in 2016.

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the US. It is now awarded by Columbia University but was originally founded in 1917 by Joseph Pulitzer who made his fortune as a newspaper publisher. The prize for Fiction is one of seven Pulitzer Prizes awarded annually, recognizing distinguished fiction from an American author that deals with American life published in the previous year. The 2016 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer.