CLASSICS THAT WOULD WIN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE PRIZES
There are many awards and prizes that have sprung up in recent decades. I, for one, keep discovering new ones every other week, it seems. Awards for sci-fi, fantasy, YA, crime, best debut, you name it. What I want to know is, what if these judges had to give a “Best … of All Time” version of their award? What classic novel would win the Man Booker Prize if it was published today? Would Ulysses win? Let’s have a look at some more niche awards, and we’ll come back to Man Booker.
The Desmond Elliott Prize – Goes to the writer with the best debut novel of the year.
This award is restricted to the UK, but for our purposes let’s forget about that. What debut novels are still remembered to this day as masterpieces? If I had to pick three, let’s say, I would go for the classic To Kill A Mockingbird, Catch-22, and Fight Club. There are plenty more, but these novels are so well written, and each so widely celebrated, it’s hard to believe they’re not works of seasoned writers
Women’s Prize for Fiction
This is one of my favorite awards, as it started out as a form of protest against the Man Booker not having many women considered for the prize. I nominate for this award: The Waves by Virginia Woolf, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award
It’s interesting to consider Ireland as the country of writers, if we take into account how many great names have emerged from a country whose population is not that large. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, WB Yeats, CS Lewis, the list goes on. I will go with the mainstream opinion here and nominate Ulysses as the best Irish novel. Just in terms of what it did with stream of consciousness, you gotta give it to J-Joyce, he was a master. My other nominations would include The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Gulliver’s Travels.
Printz Award – Rewards literary excellence in young adult literature
Perhaps the most coveted YA award out there, past nominees include Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Markus Zusak, and E. Lockhart. The genre has evolved and changed massively in recent years, and it’s hard to pinpoint classics that would fit perfectly among their modern peers. My first reaction to this award is based on the fact that many characters in YA books seem to borrow one thing or the other from one of the most iconic characters of post-war American literature: Holden Caulfield. If The Catcher in the Rye was published today, it should at least get a nomination for the Printz Award. My other two books would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower (we all agree that's a classic, yes?) , and Holes.
Returning to the Man Booker Prize, I think they tend to look at specific books, especially in recent years. The seem to reward ambitious work; big, large-scale books. The one classic that comes to mind that would fulfill these requirements is David Copperfield – and of course for the Man Booker International Prize, either Anna Karenina or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
What are some other awards and prizes that I forgot to mention? What classic book do you think should win one of the ones above?