Friday, January 14, 2022

Eyes on the Prize

 by Abir

Awards for crime fiction from year to year ride a line between subjective merit and a popularity contest — agree or disagree? And what is your personal philosophy on awards — their impact on readers (and you, if you've won any) and on subsequent award years?



Happy New Year!


2022 Eh? It’s like 2021 but with added Prince Andrew.


But let’s be positive. Let’s look on the bright side. Let’s talk about the most important thing in the world: literary awards and why I don’t win enough of them.


Having read the posts of my esteemed colleagues from earlier in the week, I have to tell you, sadly, that they are ALL wrong. Such great writers, so much talent, and yet when it comes to the politics of awards, they haven't a damn clue.

The simple truth of the matter is that any award I win, is, by its very outcome, objective, fair, insightful and a sign of natural justice. By the same token, any award which I lose is obviously rigged, short-sighted and quite possibly racist. And finally, any award for which I am not even longlisted, whether eligible for it or not, is definitely run by a cabal of shadowy forces answering to Trump and/or the Clintons.


Now that we’ve got the truth out of the way, let’s look at the impact of awards.


They make a difference…at least to authors outside of the A list. They provide the oxygen of publicity and credibility, which helps attract more readers and can help with sales of foreign rights. Awards help you stand out, and more importantly, help to pad out both your resumé and that blurb that they use to introduce you at book festivals.


On top of that, it’s always nice to win something, isn't it? Until I started writing, the last thing I’d won was the Ugliest Baby competition at Butlins Holiday Camp in Bognor in 1974. The only thing I had to show off on my mantlepiece was a framed certificate from having completed 10 lengths of the school pool back when I was nine (an imperious performance on what was a truly magnificent day), so when some people decide that I merit an award for writing, it makes me feel like I’ve finally found something I might be good at (other than the backstroke).


I think even the A list authors appreciate awards. I mean, when you’ve sold 100 million books, an extra million sales probably adds less to your levels of satisfaction than a piece of shiny metal and plastic with your name on it. 


People, regardless of their line of work, appreciate recognition for their efforts and awards are simply part of that. Having said that, I’d happily trade all mine for a few million of Lee Child’s sales.

Here's a photo of me not winning an Edgar, along with James Ponti, who did win won


Have a great weekend, and stay safe.



1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

Well, that puts it all in perspective! The last award I won was in my senior year of college and, while it was for writing, sadly that brilliant essay was about a 19th century author whose own star has dimmed considerably. Not a good omen, Another funny post - thanks Abir.