It's been a good year for British Literature, what with the globally lauded Booker nominees and the Nobel Prize and all. But alas, it's not quite over yet...
The folks over at the Whitbread headquarters wait all the way until next year to announce their 2005 prizes. On January 24th, 2006, honors will be dolled out for Fiction, Biography, First Novel, Poetry, and Children's Book. The Shortlists (announced yesterday) across the categories include Tash Aw, Nick Hornby, Salman Rushdie (pictured), and Ali Smith. They don't include Zadie Smith, John Banville, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Ian McEwan. Also, can anyone explain why the new Harry Potter book wouldn't be nominated in the children's category?
We quite like the concept of a First Novel Award, because it forces the reading public to acknowledge a new name. In music, fans are clamouring to know about the next big thing. In literature, on the other hand, readers often seem all too content to live in decades and centuries past.
The Guardian seems to like the idea, too, as evidenced by its six-year-old Guardian First Book Award. The prize is unique among such literary contests in that all genres compete for just one prize. This year, the Shortlist includes just one work of fiction (a collection of short stories, no less) and five works of nonfiction. The winner will be announced "next month."