Your Guide to Literary Awards

August 14, 2013


The recent longlist announcement for the Man Booker Prize got us thinking about the many different literary honors awarded each year. From Pulitzer to Pushcart we’ve broken down some of our favorites so you can better know what to expect from the books and authors named to these esteemed lists.

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – has been hailed as one of the highest literary honors for American authors since its inception in 1918. The winner, only eligible to American authors, is awarded $10,000 for distinguished fiction, preferably fiction dealing with American life.

National Book Award – there are those who claim the NBA is followed slightly less by the public than literary insiders, but the fact remains this award is no less prestigious. The National Book Award awards authors in the categories of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. The committee selects books nominated by publishers that, “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.”

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction – the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s tag line is “Promoting a Love of Literature” and awards one American author $15000 and four runners up $5000 each for work that represents the best American fiction published within the calendar year. The PEN/Faulkner award is the largest peer-juried award in the country. For example, the 2014 winner will be selected by three authors who will review over 350 selections. Authors and publishers can both nominate for this award.

Man Booker Prize – was originally known as the Booker Prize and is widely considered one of the largest literary prizes in the world. The prize launched in 1969 and aims to promote the finest fiction by rewarding a novel written by a citizen of the UK, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, £50,000. Every shortlisted author is given £2,500.

Women’s Prize for Fiction – was originally known as the Orange Prize for Fiction and annually awards excellence in women’s writing. Interestingly, the Women’s Prize has only been running since 1996, making it  the newest award on our list. The winner takes home £30,000. This year’s winner was our own AM Homes, who selected ten stories from shortlist for publication. Previous judge, Lauren Groff was shortlisted for this award in 2008. What can we say? We know how to pick ’em.

Newbery Medal – “is 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.” Although it is a children’s fiction award,  The Newbery Medal has recognized books that are hailed as all-time favorites. Since 1922 the association has recognized The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle, Daniel Boone, A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terebithia, Sounder, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, The Whipping Boy, Number the Stars, and The Giver, just to name a few. If you think that’s impressive, check out the shortlists from each year.

Nebula Awards – annually recognizes the best work in science fiction and fantasy. Awards are offered in the categories of novel, novella, novelette, short story, and script. The Nebula is organized and selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and was established in 1966.

O. Henry Award – recognizes excellence in short fiction. The PEN/O. Henry Stories, is a collection of the twenty best short stories published in the US or Canada.

Pushcart Prize – since 1976 the Pushcart Prize has been recognizing authors of short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction who were previously published in small presses. Each year, an anthology of selected works is produced. The Pushcart Prize anthology is one of the most highly regarded literary projects in the country.

Hugo Award – the Hugo Award began in 1956 and was known as the Science Fiction Achievement Award until 1992 before the name was changed to honor Hugo Gernsback, founder of Science Fiction Magazine, Amazing Stories. Every year awards are given at the World Science Fiction Convention and are offered for numerous categories. The Hugo Award is considered one of the highest honors in fantasy and science fiction.

Nobel Prize for Literature – has been awarding authors since 1901 who have shown outstanding work in the field of literature. As opposed to other awards, which are given for a specific novel or story, the Novel Prize for Literature is awarded for an author’s body of work over the course of their lifetime.

Did we miss any? Leave your favorite in the comments!

By Kim Winternheimer


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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