Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Literary Prizes and Surprises


The William C. Morris Award for a Young Adult Debut will be announced on January 28th in Seattle. But what does it mean, the Morris sticker? What happens when the YALSA librarians choose the debut books they find exemplary each year? 

Every author has their own story; sharing those stories is the purpose for the Morris blog series tradition. 
Elizabeth Bunce has the overview of the nominations over on Mirth and Matter. She also maintains a tag page that provides links to all the all the past interviews.
This year's Morris Award interview series kicks off right here on Thursday, January 10th.
As for what the prize means... A month or so ago, I was contacted by an individual doing research on the influence of literary prizes. Her questions were all thought provoking. One, in particular, lead me to think about the bigger picture...

What, for you, are the positives of literary prizes?
They amplify the conversation about books and reading in public discourse. Bluntly, prizes are news-worthy and make the public think about books, about reading—they may even motivate potential readers to pick up a book. That is a net cultural good.
Another thing that prizes can do is encourage diversity in books. I think prize committees often reward risk-taking and innovation. Best-sellers are often the usual suspects, but prize winners are often a surprise.

I am so looking forward to this year's surprises—both the awards announcements in Seattle and the unexpected gems I'll find while reading this year's debuts. 
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