Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A large number must have prizes

It doesn't require working in any aspect of the book trade for very many months before one realises that there almost as many book prizes as there are books.  As well as the household names (Man-Booker (or Mantel Prize) Orange (as was), Pulitzer, etc) there is a host of less well-publicized awards, ranging from the general to the highly specialist.  If, for example, you are both an American and  have written a work which promotes peace, you could be eligible for The Dayton Prize, while writers whose careers are still embryonic can vie for the The Paris Literary Prize  which awards 10,000€ for the best unpublished work. There is probably an award for the best book about wombats by a left-handed lathe operator, but I haven't yet been able to track it down.  Give me time.

Awards are germinating and flourishing all through the Garden of Letters at the moment, while their literal counterparts are whittled down by Winter.  January will see the climax of the prestigious T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize, while the shortlists for the National Book Awards were announced yesterday. The headline sponsor for the latter is Specsavers, whose name is especially attached to the award for Popular Fiction Book of the Year, and  it has already excited some considerable comment that Fifty Shades of Grey is on the shortlist in this category. Not having read this book, I must, of course, refrain from comment on its quality as literature (Wikipedia observes that 'Critical reception of the novel has been mixed') but there is no denying its popularity, nor that of its sequels, nor indeed of the host of similarly themed and presented novels that major publishers seem to be able to produce with uncanny speed (I think they have secret machines).

Perhaps, however, there is a conflict of interests; not only does the title of this book identify a specific item (using the popular or slang term) purveyed by Specsavers, but the alleged results of a particular activity said to be inspired by the perusal of erotic material would surely increase demand for the staple Specsavers product?

In any case, good luck to all the shortlistees, and here is my list of books that ought to be awarded special Specsavers commendations:

The Squinter's Tale
Chart of Darkness
The Lens Room
Specs and the City
Blurred Brothers
Eyes Station Zebra


1 comment:

  1. I'm sure there's a law somewhere to prevent these awful puns!!!