Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Literary Prizes: Helpful or Detrimental?

It's "Oscar" season in the literary world. With the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize both being given out within the past week, many readers are being introduced to the works of authors who were previously a bit of an unknown outside their respective spheres. This means that many of them will be rushing out to read/buy one of these author's works to keep up with the literary times. This is a great thing, right? Maybe not.

In his article for Newsweek entitled "The Trouble with the Nobel", Malcolm Jones discusses how the Nobel and other major literary prizes might just have too much control over what the world reads.

Prizes do sell books. They can make reputations. At the same time, the Nobel and all the other literary prizes encourage a kind of laziness among readers. They create a false sense of what’s great, and that’s a decision that individual readers ought to be making on their own.

So what do you think? Do prizes help more than they hurt? Or do we as readers rely too much on the recommendations of remote committees that we know little to nothing about?

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