This is part of my ongoing series on using Awards Lists as a RA tool. Click here for all posts in the series in reverse chronological order. Click here for the first post which outlines the details how to use awards lists as a RA tool.
A couple of the big literary fiction awards released their finalists lists recently and they have a lot of crossover. This crossover is great for you, the library worker as it allows you to see some consensus. Both awards lists also have excellent backlist access and multiple categories across fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Below is the information and links, but remember to refresh your memory on why awards lists are such great tools to help readers with the links in the intro above. Any time someone asks me my favorite resource, my answer is ALWAYS "Awards Lists."
The National Book Critics Circle whose mission is, "Honoring outstanding writing and fostering a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature since 1974," released their short list for what they deem "the finest books published in English in six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry, and Criticism," here.
The PEN American Literary Awards were also announced and they give backlist access right on the main awards page. From that page:
"Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across diverse genres, including fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, and drama. With the help of our partners, PEN America confers over 20 distinct awards, fellowships, grants and prizes each year, awarding nearly $350,000 to writers and translators. View and search our archive of Award winners here."
That archive has both lists and a search option. What I love about this award is that the categories are so broad and in many ways, more intuitive for our readers, meaning we can use the categories in real time as we help readers.
But here's what I mean about the categories. The main award isn't just for "best" novel a criteria that is not very specific. Rather it is for "a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence." This is easier to use to handsell a title to potential readers.
- The Open Book Award: "To an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color." [What I love about this category is that there are authors of color in the main book award, but they do not overlap them in this category.]
- Debut story collection-- this is a great way for you to identify up and coming authors to add to your collections.
- Debut novel
- An award for "the art of the essay"-- a very popular nonfiction area.
- Poetry-- still gaining in readership and popularity
- 2 translate literature prizes-- One for poetry and one for "book length prose."
- Literary Science Writing-- another very popular nonfiction area. The "literary" page is not a judgement rather it denotes that the works are not peer reviewed science but rather, "For a work that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience."
- General Nonfiction