Wednesday 30 March 2011

Do Prizes Matter?

I just saw that the Man Booker International shortlist has been announced. Quite a few names on there that I recognise and I have even read and enjoyed one of them.

Interestingly I saw in the guardian that John Le Carre has asked to be removed from the list (his request was turned down). He said that he doesn't write to compete for literary prizes and therefore did not want to be considered for it. Are there any writers out there who do write to compete do you think? Perhaps there are some who's goal is to one day win such a prestigious award. I don't actually see what's wrong with that. What's wrong with a little ambition? I have my doubts though that when a writer sits down to work on his or her book they do so with only that prize in mind. Or am I being naive?

I wonder if there are other authors out there who feel the same way he does. I imagine though that most would see it as an honour. I think I would if I was a writer. I personally like these prizes. I don't always go out of my way to read the winners as they might not always appeal to me. I have though found new authors to enjoy through them. Last year I read Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and it is now one of my favourite books. I can speak from experience that prize winners sell. There are a number of authors out there who deservedly became more widely read thanks to things like this. For that reason alone I do think prizes matter.

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