Last week we asked our readers "Which major book prize -- the NBA, NBCC or the Pulitzer -- matters most to you? Why?" Responses overwhelmingly concerned the differences between prizes--how each caters to a certain market and type of work. Many respondents brought up smaller, more specialized awards as better representatives of the best in contemporary literature, and pointed out that the major prizes don't often enough recognize writers outside of the mainstream. The big prizes did have their supporters, with readers citing the long histories of some and the judging methods of others as factors that set them above the rest. Here are some highlights from the discussion.
In support of the big three awards:
"I have always preferred Pulitzer Prize winners far and above the others. The Goldfinch was by far my favorite book this year. I think it has to do with the types of books that are nominated in the first place." - Kathy Durham Aurigemma, via Facebook
"To read the novels and plays awarded the Pulitzer Prize over, in the case of the plays, almost 100 years is to see an amazing portrait of our country growing first from coast to coast, then in creative expression, and now in diversity. I look forward to the announcements every year." - Beth Goehring, via publishersweekly.com
"[R]eading the Pulitzer winners for fiction is like taking a Master Class. Last year's The Orphan Master's Son resonated so deeply its images remain in my mind." - Sarah Bates, via publishersweekly.com
The case for smaller, specialized awards:
"I prefer to pay attention to the minor book prizes. Major book prizes tend to circle around books we all know about through heavy publicity, focused reviews in major media, and bestseller lists. Instead, bring me your Dylan Thomas Prize, your John W. Campbell Awards, and let me find out about writers and poets of promise who haven't gotten much of the spotlight yet." - Jenny Colvin, via Facebook
"I partly agree, Jenny. I like some of the 'smaller' awards, too, because they tend to give more notice to lesser known but really great books. Alternatively, I'm always interested in Man Booker Prize nominees. And I am thrilled for Donna Tartt." - Denise Gibbs, via Facebook
"the #rita the #nebula or the #hugo." - stacey agdern (@nystacey), via Twitter.
"None. All prizes reflect the preferences of a few people that make the jury." - Alta Ifland (@altaifland), via Twitter
"All literary prizes are crap shoots, and committees often make crappy compromise choices. But the National Book Critics Circle Awards, chosen by careful, committed readers, have the best track record for identifying brilliance." - William G. Kellman, via publishersweekly.com