Chapter 35 - The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio




The Nobel Prize in Literature was recently announced and the winner was Annie Ernaux, a French author, who writes both fiction and memoir. To be honest, I had never heard of her, and the awarding made me do a little research. The Nobel committee awarded the prize on the basis of “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory". With over twenty works of fiction and memoir, I don't know how I missed this author and I made a promise to myself to read her in the future.


Then I started to think about literature prize winners, what they've won and how it affects the literature they create after the win. I am definitely not the kind of reader who must read every prize winning book which comes out, in fact there are many prize winning books I just shake my head about because I don't get why they were picked. Below are some prize winners I've enjoyed, just in case this is on your Reading Challenge for 2022.


The John Newberry Medal - Often call the Newberry Award is given by the American Library Association for the author of the "most distinguished contributions to American literature for children." There are so many great children's books in the list of award winners that it is hard to single out just one or two. Two which I read as a child and which clearly helped me develop my love of Historical Fiction are The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. The first takes place in the 1600's in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the latter takes place in 1943 in Denmark during World War II. If you have a young reader, or even if you don't, I really recommend these two books.


The Hugo Awards are a series of awards which celebrate the best of science fiction or fantasy literature each year. While I am generally not a fan of science fiction or fantasy there are a few I've read. I recommend Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury or Neil Gaiman's American Gods from this group of winners.


The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, "in the field of literature, produced the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction". The prize is usually awarded for a body of work by an author. A couple of my favorites from this category include The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (an oldie but goodie) and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.


The Pulitzer Prize in Literature was established in 1917 by the provisions of Joseph Pulitzer's will. Some of my favorites from this group include The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.


The Booker Prize (also known as The Mann Booker Prize) has been awarded since 1969 to authors writing a English full length novel and from the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. A few really good books are Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.


Do you follow prize winning books and authors? What books do you recommend?