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What Are the Most Prestigious Literary Awards?

Below are 7 of the most prestigious literary awards that have recognized some of literature’s greatest writers and launched others into stardom.

1. Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually in Stockholm, Sweden to an outstanding author of any country. The ceremony dates back to 1901 and is named after its creator, Alfred Nobel.

The Nobel Committee for Literature sends invitation letters to “qualified individuals” to submit nominations for the prize.

Notable winners: George Bernard Shaw (1925), William Faulkner (1949), Sir Winston Churchill (1953), Ernest Hemingway (1954), Pablo Neruda (1971), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1982)

2. Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize was stablished in 1917 by Joseph Pulitzer, a prominent newspaper publisher born in Hungary. Today the prize is administered by Columbia University, and is awarded across 22 categories in journalism, books, drama, and music.

Prizes are awarded by the University on the recommendation of The Pulitzer Prize Board, which meets twice annually.

Notable (fiction) winnersTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1961); Beloved by Toni Morrison (1988); The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2020)

3. National Book Award

The National Book Award celebrates the best literature in America. First established in 1950, the Foundation meets each year and assembles 25 “distinguished writers, translators, critics, librarians, and booksellers” to judge the awards. Submissions open in mid-March.

Notable winners: From Here to Eternity by James Jones (1952); The Haunted Land by Tina Rosenberg; Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (2019)

4. Booker Prize

The Booker Prize (formerly the “Man Booker Prize”) was established in 1969. Each year, a panel of judges decide the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Notable winners: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002); The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (2019)

5. Neustadt International Prize For Literature

The Neustadt International Prize For Literature was founded by Ivar Ivask in 1969 as the Books Abroad International Prize for Literature before changing to its current name in 1976. The award recognizes outstanding works in drama, poetry, and fiction.

Notable winners: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1972); Czesław Miłosz (1978)

6. Women’s Prize for Fiction

The Women’s Prize for Fiction awards were established in 1992, after the Booker Prize of 1991 didn’t include any women at all. A panel of female judges selects the best fiction written by women from around the world.

Notable winners: When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant (2000); An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (2019)

7. America Award

The America Award was established in 1994 to recognize lifetime achievements in writing. Part of its mission is to offer an alternative to the famous Nobel Prize in Literature.

Each year, a jury of 6–8 American literary critics, playwrights, poets, and prose writers meet to select a winner. Writers of all countries are eligible.

Notable winners: Peter Handke (2002), John Ashbery (2008)

In an effort to create more successful book projects, MindStir Media provides authors with a groundbreaking book awards tool that will help you discover the best book awards for your book, enter your book into said contests, and then track your progress. And the best part? It’s automated! No more manually searching for book awards and filling out long and tedious applications. This is the smart way to find, enter and win awards for your book.

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