7 Famous Literary Awards You Must Know About

“Let’s take a look at some of the most famous literary awards in the literary arena which writers dream of adding to their resume.”

Prestigious book awards not only bring renewed attention from readers and media, laurels, and fame to an author but also boost the book sales and bring in a new audience for an author. From the Nobel prize to Pulitzer to our indigenous Sahitya Akademi and Janapith awards, popular literary awards have turned around the fortunes of some of the hitherto anonymous names in literature. Let’s take a look at some of the most coveted awards in the literary arena which writers dream of adding to their resume.

  1. Nobel Prize 

The Nobel was constituted as a result of a will of a wealthy Swedish man Alfred Nobel’s to institute an award and reward the best contributions in Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Peace, and Medicine. Nobel prize is one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most prestigious literary awards. The award is given to a writer with a significant body of path-breaking work in literature that promotes a new idea of idealism. 

  1. Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award

One of the most coveted literary honors in India, Sahitya Akademi annually confers the award to a book written in one of the 24 listed languages of India. The award, meant to promote new trends in literature and excellence in writing comprises a plaque and a cash award of one lakh Indian rupees. The award, therefore, represents the best of Indian writing and represents the great diversity of the Indian literary scene.

  1. Janapith Award

Instituted in 1961, the Bhartiya Janapith award is presented to an Indian author for their outstanding contribution towards literature. The award has so far been awarded for literary works in 16 Indian languages. The award consists of a citation plaque and a cash prize of 11 lakh Indian rupees. Some of the famous recipients of the awards are the famous Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam, U R Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad in Kannada, Mahashweta Devi in Bengali and Amitav Ghosh in English. 

  1. Booker Prize

If there is one literary award that is much awaited and greater amidst much fanfare, it is the Booker prize. The prize assures international fame and a massive surge in book sales, making it one of the most prestigious awards in the book trade. 

The award originally included only members of British Commonwealth, Irish, and South African citizens, it has now widened its scope to include any novel in English language including in translation, leading to a storm of controversy in literary circles. To be included in the longest and shortlist is also considered to be a hallmark of excellence for any author. Indian writers and writers of Indian origins have bagged as many as 6 booker awards to mark significant Indian presence in the literary scene. 

  1. Pulitzer Award

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is among the seven American Pulitzer Prizes awarded annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It recognizes distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, published during the preceding calendar year. The prize constituted in 1917 attracts considerable attention, and some of the awardees like ‘The Finkler Question’ are striking illustrations of the human condition.

     6. Women’s Prize for Fiction

The prize has an interesting history. In 1991 no women made it to the Booker prize list, despite 60% of the books being published that year by a female author. A group of literary agents, editors journalists came together to discuss the issue, and they came to the inevitable conclusion that female authors seldom get their dues, their literary achievements not acknowledged by the prestigious literary awards. Women’s prize for fiction was then established to recognize the literary excellence of women writers. The winner selected by five leading women receives prize money worth 30,000 pounds along with a bronze sculpture. The award is open to women of all nationalities who have published a full-length novel in English published in the United Kingdom. 

    7. The Orwell Prize 

Aligning with George Orwell’s vision of making political writing into an art, the award is aimed at encouraging good political writing into an art. The award has led to the discovery of several compelling works that would have done Orwell proud.