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A Literary Award Pageant

Rachel Cordasco

Staff Writer

Rachel Cordasco has a Ph.D in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she's not at her day job or chasing three kids, she's writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Each year, literary awards are given to those writers who have produced superb pieces of literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, poetry, and children’s books. Some, like the Nobel, are so huge that people start speculating on the possible winner before the current year’s winner has even attended the awards ceremony in Stockholm. Others are awards for genre fiction, poetry, and translation.

We hear about these numerous awards during the year, but we mostly focus on the PEOPLE who have won them. What about the TROPHIES, the PLAQUES, the COINS?? Frankly, they’ve been ignored, and it’s time to make it up to them. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is an award pageant, where these tangible proofs of literary skill can finally have their due.

Bram Stoker Awards: presented each year by the Horror Writers’ Association for superior achievement in the horror genre; past winners include Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King.

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Edgar Award: presented by the Mystery Writers of America for achievement in the mystery genre; previous winners include Dennis Lehane and Tana French.

Mystery Writers Of America 2010 Edgar Awards Banquet

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Franz Kafka Prize: given to the writer who’s work’s “humanistic character and contribution to cultural, national, language and religious tolerance, its existential, timeless character, its generally human validity and its ability to hand over a testimony about our times”; previous winners include Philip Roth and Haruki Murakami.


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Hans Christian Andersen Award: the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books, given by the International Board on Books for Young People every other year; previous winners include Katherine Paterson and Maria Teresa Andruetto.

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PEN/Hemingway Award: a national literary honor given to an author of a first book of fiction; previous winners include Marilynne Robinson, Ha Jin, and Jhumpa Lahiri.


Patrick Hemingway (center) and the winner, Kevin Powers (right); Image via:


Hugo Award: given each year at the World Science Fiction Conference; past winners for best novel include Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, and Orson Scott Card.


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Man Booker Prize: a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in English, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe; previous winners include Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, and Eleanor Catton.

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Eleanor Catton won this year for THE LUMINARIES

Eleanor Catton won this year for THE LUMINARIES; Image via:

National Book Award: currently given to one book (author) annually in each of four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature; past winners for fiction include Cormac McCarthy, Jonathan Franzen, and Louise Erdrich.

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Nebula Award: given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the best science fiction or fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year; previous winners include Ursula K. Le Guin and Michael Chabon.


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Neustadt International Prize for Literature: awarded to an author for a body of work and often called the “American Nobel” because of its record of 30 laureates, candidates or jurors who in 42 years have been awarded Nobel Prizes following their involvement with the Neustadt Prize; previous winners include Gabriel García Márquez and Rohinton Mistry.


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Newberry Medal: awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children; previous winners include Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary, and Scott O’Dell.


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Nobel Prize in Literature: according to Alfred Nobel’s will, the prize is to be given “to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction” from any country in the world; previous winners include Thomas Mann, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison.


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(L-R) Faulkner, Bellow, and Morrison receiving the Nobel Prize

(L-R) Faulkner, Bellow, and Morrison receiving the Nobel Prize; image via:


Pulitzer Prize: given for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life; previous fiction winners include Geraldine Brooks and Junot Diaz.


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Bollingen Prize: named after Carl Jung’s home in Switzerland; awarded every two years for the best volume of poetry published in those years or for a poet’s lifetime achievement in his or her art; past winners include John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück,  Stanley Kunitz, W.S. Merwin, and Richard Wilbur.

O. Henry Award: an annual American award given to short stories of exceptional merit; previous winners include Sherman Alexie and Alice Munro. (Winners are published in a collection).


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