Friday, July 01, 2005

The Value of Awards

I notice from the many venues I visit that it's award time again. I do vote for work that I liked, and there are numerous awards being presented around this time, and not to detract from any winners’ success, but I do question the value of certain awards. The main problem (as I see it) is that they (awards) depend on people reading said work and then voting for it if they like it enough. So if writer 'A' has published a story/book etc in an obscure little 'zine with a low readership, and writer 'B' has published a story in a 'zine with a large readership, then it's statistically more likely writer 'B' will have more people vote for his story (assuming both stories are of equal calibre). That's not to say writer 'A' had written a worse story, just that not many people read it.

I know if I was ever lucky enough to win an award, I would appreciate it, but I do feel the awards process in many instances is flawed, and I wonder if there could be a fairer system of voting.

When I look down the lists of final recommendations for an award, I know that I will only vote for those that I read and enjoyed, but it doesn't mean it was the best. And this is the problem. Without reading everything on the list, how do I really know that story 'A' was not as good as story 'B'?

I suppose the only way around this is an unbiased panel of readers whose job it is to read through everything submitted, but I imagine this would be a time consuming and expensive way of doing things. Although it works for some film festivals, such as Cannes, where I believe (although I may be wrong) films are submitted for consideration and then voted on by a panel in a secret ballot. The Booker Prize (and perhaps others) works along similar lines: UK publishers may enter up to two full-length novels for a specific year. In addition, any title by an author who has won the Booker Prize and any title by an author who has been shortlisted in the last ten years may be submitted. Publishers may also submit a list of up to five further titles for the judges' consideration. The judges are required to call in no less than eight and no more than twelve of these titles. One thing that distinguishes the Man Booker Prize from other literary awards is that the judges read all of the submitted books. The list of submitted titles is strictly confidential.

Oh well, perhaps I shouldn't think so much. Congratulations to those who have won, and to those who are yet to win any award, no matter how it comes to be.

B.C. Book Awards:

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
VanCity Book Prize

Canadian Book Awards: in Canada
Giller Prize
Governor General's Awards
Marian Engel
Matt Cohen Prize
Stephen Leacock Prize for Humour
Timothy Findley Award
Trillium Awards
W.O. Mitchell Prize
Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

American Book Awards:

National Book Awards
National Book Critic's Circle
PEN/Faulkner Prize (Fiction)
Pulizter Prize

British Book Awards:

Whitbread awards - First Novel
Whitbread - Book of the Year
Whitbread Literary Prize (Fiction)

International Book Awards:

Betty Trask Prize
Booker Prize
Commonweath Writer's Prize
International IMPAC Dublin Literary awards
Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
Nobel Prize in Literature
Orange Prize for Fiction

Fantasy Book Awards:

World Fantasy Award

Science Fiction Book Awards:

Aurthur C. Clarke Awards
Hugo Awards
Nebula Awards
Prix Aurora Prize

Mystery Book Awards:

Agatha Awards
Anthony Awards
Arthur Ellis Awards
CWA Dagger Awards
CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Hammett Prize
John Creasey Memorial Awards
Macavity Awards
Shamus Awards
Spotted Owl

Horror Book Awards:

Bram Stoker Awards
International Horror Guild

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