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Most Prestigious Literary Awards

A Guide To The Most Prestigious Literary Awards

Receiving a literary award is one of the most prestigious recognitions for an author and for all those who work behind a book, or a piece of art. In the literary world, there are several prizes that every year are recognized to the books.

Literary awards allow the readers to discover the best titles of the year, and they’re usually divided by genre or category. Some awards, like the Hugo Award or Franz Kafka Award, select a specific genre, whereas others can select by the gender or nationality of the author, and many more characteristics. The authors winning a literary award usually receive a cash amount and a symbolic prize like a medal or a bronze.

Some of the oldest literary awards have been running for more than a hundred years, like the Nobel Prize for Literature, which has been running since 1901. Even if it’s still one of the most prestigious literary awards, it’s not extraneous to controversy, like the one happened in 2018, when the Nobel prize for literature was not awarded, but it will be assigned with the one of 2019.

Internet and the new technologies have given us the possibility to discover new ways of assigning the literary awards. This is the case of the Goodreads Choice Awards, whose winners are decided by the public with an online vote. Even if it’s not a historical award, it is indeed a reflection of the preferences of the readers and the way in which the new technology can contribute spreading literature.

Here’s a list of the most prestigious literary awards around the world, and the last title or titles that have been assigned to it.

1. Nobel Prize for Literature

Official website:  https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/

Award Ceremony: December 10, 2020, in Stockholm

About the Award

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually, since 1901, to an outstanding author, from any country, who has distinguished themselves for their work. It’s a Swedish prize and it has been named after its creator, Alfred Nobel.

The current holders of the Nobel Prize in Literature are Olga Tokarczuk for 2018 and Peter Handke for 2019.

 

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Flights by Olga Tokarczuk

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A Sorrow Beyond Dreams by Peter Handke

2. Pulitzer Prize

Official website: https://www.pulitzer.org/

Winner announcement: April 2020

About the award

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. Established in 1917, it was originally created by Joseph Pulitzer, former newspaper publisher. It’s currently administered by Columbia University, in New York City. The prize is awarded for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature and musical composition.

The current holder of the Pulitzer Prize for literature are:

 

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The Overstory by Richard Powers
Winner for Fiction

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Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America, by Eliza Griswold

3. National Book Award

Official website: https://www.nationalbook.org/

Dates for 2020:

October 8: Finalists announced

November 20: National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner (Winners announced)

The National Book Awards is an award that celebrates the best literature in America. The first edition was in 1950 when publishers, critics, editors and writers gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York to celebrate the first National Book Award.

The winners of National Book Awards in 2018 are:

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Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Winner for Fiction

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The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Winner for Nonfiction

4. Women’s Prize for Fiction

Official website: https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk

Dates for 2019:

March 03, 2020: Longlist announced

April 22, 2020: Shortlist announced

June 03, 2020: Winner announced

About the award

The Women’s Prize for Fiction each year awards the best full-length fiction written by women throughout the world. It was established in 1992, when a diverse group of journalists, reviewers, agents, publishers, librarian and booksellers gathered in London, after the Booker Prize, in 1991, didn’t include any women at all. The group gathered to debate the reasons why the ratio of books written by men was higher than the one of books written by women. Throughout the years, the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been supported by different sponsors, that allow to work on several initiatives that help them continue to celebrate, honor and promote the outstanding fiction written by women from all over the world.

The winner of 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction is:

 

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

5. The Hugo Awards

Official website: http://www.thehugoawards.org/

Dates for 2020:

Winners will be announced August 1, 2020 at CoNZealand 2020

About the award

The Hugo Awards are science fiction’s most prestigious award. First presented in 1953 and then annually since 1955, the Hugo Awards are voted by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), which is also responsible for administering them.

The winners of The Hugo Awards in 2019 are:

 

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The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Winner for Best Novel

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Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Winner for Best Novella

6. The Booker Prize

Official website: https://thebookerprizes.com

Dates for 2020:

Longlist announced on July 28, 2020

Shortlist announced on September 15, 2020

Winner announced on October 27, 2020

About the award

Established in 1969, the Booker Prize awards to what is, in opinion of the judges, the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK.

The co-winners of The Booker Prize of 2019 are:

 

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

7. British Book Awards

Official website: https://www.thebookseller.com/british-book-awards

Dates for 2020:

Winner announced on May 18, 2020

About the award

Also known as The Nibbies, The British Book Awards each year celebrate the best British writers, books, publishers and bookshops. The Nibbies was launched in 1990 by Fred Newman, founder and editor of Publishing News and taken over by The Bookseller in 2017.

The winners of The British Book Awards of 2019 are:

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Normal People by Sally Rooney
Winner for Book of the Year and Fiction Book of the Year

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Becoming by Michelle Obama
Winner for Best Audiobook

8. Pen America Literary Awards

Official website: https://pen.org/

Dates for 2020:

Winner Announced on March 2020

About the award

The PEN America Literary Awards have been established in 1963. Since then, many of the most outstanding voices in literature have been honored of this prize. Each year, PEN America, with the help of their partners, confers over 20 distinct awards across diverse genres, including fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, and so on.

Some of the winners of 2019 PEN America Literary Awards are:

 

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Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Winner for Penn/Jean Stein Book Award

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Bring Out the Dog by Will Mackin
Winner for Pen/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

9. Costa Book Awards

Official website: https://www.costa.co.uk/costa-book-awards/welcome/

Dates for 2020:

On January 28, 2020, Winner announced

About the award

The Costa Book Awards prize was launched in 1971, and recognizes a wide range of titles across all genres, written by authors and poets from UK and Ireland. Five categories are awarded of the Costa Book Awards: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. One of those books will be selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year.

The winners of Costa Book Awards of 2019 are:

 

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The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
Winner for Costa Book of the Year

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Winner for First Novel

10. Goodreads Choice Awards

Official website: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards

Dates for 2020:

Winners Announced: December 2020

About the award

Goodreads is a popular platform where booklovers can share their books and reviews, and author can promote their works. In 2009, the platform started hosting the Goodreads Choice Awards, a selection of the best titles chosen by the users. Each year the readers have a set amount of days to vote for their favorite book, which will then be the Goodreads Choice of the year.

Some of the winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards of 2019 are:

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Winner for Fiction

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Winner for Mystery & Thriller

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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Winner for Historical Fiction

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Winner for Fantasy

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Winner for Romance

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Recursion by Blake Crouch
Winner for Science Fiction

11. Book Shimmy Awards by Epic Reads

Official website: https://www.epicreads.com/bookshimmyawards/

About the award

The Book Shimmy Awards is a prize by Epic Reads which celebrates the most loved Young Adult books of the year.

The awards are entered and voted by the community, which chooses the winners amongst the best books of the year.

Some of the winners of the Book Shimmy Awards of 2019 are:

 

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The Wicked King by Holly Black
Winner for Best of Shelf

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Winner for Cover Lust

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Winner for All by My Shelf

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Winner for We Need Diverse Books

Here are some of the most important literary awards. They’re of various types, from the ones that have been running for more than a hundred years, to the newest ones powered by readers and new technologies.

Literary awards are a good way to keep up to date with the literary community, and they’re important because they allow culture and arts to be more visible from a wider public.

I hope you enjoyed this list, I will keep updating it with the newest award winners and new literary prizes.

Happy readings!

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