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Akhmet Baitursynuly
The significant International Literary Awards in t...

15.05.2024 141

The significant International Literary Awards in the Modern Era 12+

The significant International Literary Awards in the Modern Era -

Every year, international literary awards and competitions strive to ensure that the voices and ideas of writers from different countries are meaningfully represented through literary works, allowing them to stand out and gain recognition on the world stage.

Our Kazakh writers have not yet taken full advantage of these opportunities to promote their names and homeland. In addition to the pursuit of prestigious awards, they face the challenge of presenting their work on the world stage. One wonders whether this problem is related to the quality of our writers. One of the pressing problems of Kazakh writers is the lack of qualified translators from Kazakh into English, as well as the lack of prestigious publishing houses presenting literary awards. Our compatriot Saule Doszhan became the first female writer from Central Asia, who in 2019 participated in the competition for one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world - the Booker Prize. This year, another young Kazakh writer Bakytgul Sarmekova was able to present her works. However, unfortunately, the prose collection including the short stories “The tragedy of a bastard” and “My own strange heart”, published by the British publishing house Hertfordshire Press, as well as “To Hell with the Poets”, published by Tilted Axis Press, did not were able to make it onto the short list of the prestigious competition. However, the desire for world recognition in the future will certainly become a driver for the development of Kazakh literature and will be an example for other domestic writers. In this regard, providing more detailed information about the important literary prizes of the world would be useful.

In contrast to the remuneration methods of the Middle Ages, where writers were often given courtly status as court poets or writers with accompanying monetary allowances, literary awards, which became widespread mainly in the 20th century, represent a more democratic approach to recognizing the merits of writers. Modern awards are typically one-time in nature and do not formally impose further obligations on writers. However, historical experience shows that receiving a significant award, whether international or state-level, can indeed impact a writer's future work and influence their fate.

Today, international literary prizes and competitions continue to play a vital role in fostering cultural exchange. They enable writers and their works across various genres to reach a broad audience worldwide, fostering a sense of unity among readers under the banner of literature.

Awards can be categorized into two main groups:

•          General literary awards are not limited to any specific genre of writing and include prestigious prizes like the Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. These awards are typically presented annually to a chosen number of books that span a diverse range of subjects and genres.

•          Genre-specific awards are designated for books within a particular genre, such as children's literature, science fiction, fantasy, mystery/detective stories, romance, prose, poetry, short stories, and more.

We have curated a list of some of the world's most prestigious literary awards for your consideration.

Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize, established by Swedish chemical engineer, inventor, and industrialist Alfred Bernhard Nobel and named after him, is renowned as both the world's most prestigious and most criticized award. This dual reputation largely stems from the significant monetary aspect of the prize: it includes a gold medal bearing A. Nobel's image and related inscription, a diploma, and notably, a monetary check whose amount depends on the Nobel Foundation's profits. Nobel's will, drafted on November 27, 1895, allocated his capital (originally exceeding 31 million Swedish crowns) into stocks, bonds, and loans, with the annual income divided into 5 equal portions and allocated as awards for exceptional global achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and contributions to peace. The Nobel Prize in Literature, in particular, sparks intense debates. Criticisms target the decisions of the Nobel Committee, operating under strict confidentiality, as well as allegations of political rather than literary motivations in some selections. Detractors often cite notable writers like Leo Tolstoy, Nabokov, Joyce, Borges, who were overlooked for the Nobel Prize. The prize ceremony occurs annually on December 10, marking the anniversary of Nobel's passing, with the Swedish king traditionally presenting the Nobel laureates in Stockholm. Recipients are required to deliver a Nobel lecture within 6 months of receiving the award, focusing on the theme of their work. 

Prix Goncourt

The Prix Goncourt, France's primary literary award, was established in 1896 and first awarded in 1902. It is bestowed upon the author of the best novel or collection of short stories in French for that year, regardless of whether the author resides in France. The prize is named after the Goncourt brothers, Edmond Louis Antoine (1832-1896) and Jules Alfred Huot (1830-1869), renowned French literary figures. Edmond, the younger brother, left his substantial fortune to the literary Academy, which later became known as the Goncourt Academy and instituted the annual Prix Goncourt. The academy comprises 10 esteemed writers in France who serve for a nominal fee of 60 francs per year. Each member possesses one vote, except the president who holds two. Notable authors who have been part of the Goncourt Academy include A. Daudet, J. Renard, Rosny Sr., F. Eria, E. Bazin, and Louis Aragon. The Goncourt Academy's rules have evolved, now stipulating that jury members for the prestigious Goncourt Prize should not exceed 80 years of age. Initially, the prize aimed to recognize young writers for their original talent, innovative content, and bold stylistic experimentation.

Man Booker Prize

The Booker Prize, officially named The Man Booker Prize since 2002, is awarded to any resident of the Commonwealth of Nations or Ireland whose novel in English achieves worldwide recognition and a prize of 50 thousand pounds sterling. The prize has been presented since 1969 and is sponsored by the Man Group. The selection process begins with an advisory committee comprising publishers, representatives from the literary world, literary agents, booksellers, libraries, and the Man Booker Prize Foundation, who compile a list of around one hundred books. From this list, a jury of five individuals—prominent literary critics, writers, scientists, and public figures—is chosen. In August, the jury announces a "long list" of 20-25 novels, followed by a "short list" of six participants in September, and finally, the laureate is revealed in October.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the prize, a special "Booker of All Time" award was introduced. This award was intended to honor the novel considered by readers as the best in the history of the prize. In 2008, the monetary value of the prize exceeded one hundred thousand US dollars (50 thousand pounds).

The International Booker Prize, established in 2005, is a counterpart to the regular Booker Prize. It is awarded biennially to an author for a work of fiction written in English or translated into English for general readership. The purpose of the award is to note the best author, regardless of nationality and the language in which he writes, for achievements in the field of fiction.

Pulitzer Prize

According to the stipulations set forth by American publisher and journalist Joseph Pulitzer's testament, only American authors are eligible for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature. Books vying for the prize must be published in print during the year prior to the award presentation. Nominations for the award can be submitted by anyone, including the authors themselves. The Pulitzer Prize is bestowed in six categories: fiction, biography, poetry, non-fiction, history, and drama. Since its inception in 1917, the prize has been awarded annually, with the institution date recognized as August 17, 1903, the date of Joseph Pulitzer's testament.

Many of the books honored with this award are translated into foreign languages and find success in various countries.

Hans Christian Andersen Award

The G.-Kh. Andersen International Prize is among the most esteemed accolades worldwide for authors and illustrators specializing in children's literature. Established by the International Council for Children's and Youth Literature UNESCO in 1956 (for illustrators, since 1966), it is bestowed biennially. The judging panel assesses both the literary merit of the text and the aesthetic quality of illustrations, along with the ability to perceive the world through a child's perspective.

This award aims to foster global understanding through children's literature, promote the publication and dissemination of exceptional children's books, particularly in developing nations, and uphold children's rights as outlined in the UN Rights Convention. National branches of the International Council for Children's and Youth Literature UNESCO nominate candidates for the award, and an international jury comprising eminent experts in children's literature is convened for the selection process.

Dublin Literary Award

The Dublin Award stands as one of the foremost literary honors globally, bestowed annually for outstanding prose works published in English. Inaugurated in 1996 through a collaboration between the Dublin city council and the American Impac (IMPAC) Investment Fund, this prestigious award aims to recognize the finest novel of the year in global literature, fostering excellence within the literary realm.

Nominations for the award are submitted by libraries located in capital cities and major urban centers worldwide, with each library allowed to nominate up to three novels annually. The competition draws participation from 400 library systems spanning 177 countries, with the geographical reach of the Dublin Award continually expanding.

Hugo Award

The most esteemed literary award for fantasy authors is named after the American inventor, writer, editor, businessman, and publisher, Hugo Gernsback, renowned as the founder of the world's first science fiction magazine and often hailed as the "father of science fiction journalism." The Hugo Award is presented annually to the finest novel written in the science fiction or fantasy genre and published in English.

Any work released in the year prior to the award ceremony is eligible for nomination. The voting process involves all registered participants at the convention where the award is presented.

The primary categories for the award include novel, story, short story, and novella. From 1960 to 1964 and in 1966, the category of "Best Short Fiction" was replaced by "Best Short Story" which encompassed novellas.

Women’s Prize for Fiction

The Women's Prize for Fiction is highly esteemed in English-speaking circles, honoring novels written by women of any nationality in English and published in the UK. Established in 1996, this award emerged due to critiques of major literary awards for their limited representation of women writers. A notable incident was in 1991 when the Booker shortlist comprised solely male authors. Winners of the Women's Prize receive a bronze statuette and a generous 38,000 US dollar cash prize.

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