In the News: Literary Prizes, American Inferiority Complex Edition
Oct 16, 2014
by Cornelius FitzPatrick, Colorado Review Associate Editor
The winner of the Man-Booker Prize for Fiction was announced yesterday, and the prize went to Australian author Richard Flanagan for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. This year marked the first in the Booker’s 46-year history that the prize could be awarded to authors outside of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. Or, to be regionalist about it, this year marked the first in which an American could win the prize. Flanagan’s was the fourth prize to go to an Australian. So far the U.S is 0-1. As far as I’m concerned, Australia, that’s better than 4-42. (Editor’s note: This is not actually better).
And, of course, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded last Thursday, to Patrick Modiano. In unrelated news, last Thursday marked the beginning of all your friends pretending to know who Patrick Modiano is. Personally I prefer his early novels. According to the New York Times, the French author thought it “strange” that he had won and wanted to know why the committee had chosen him. His assistant promptly reminded him that it was “Because you’re really good at writing,” to which Mr. Modiano replied, “Oh, that’s right.”
At last, a set of prizes that only Americans can win: the National Book Award finalists were announced today. The full list can be found here. I am not among the nominees, in case you were looking. I do have to wonder, though, given the NBA’s recent hopes to be more like the Booker, including boasting of celebrity appearances at the NBA dinner by the likes of Molly Ringwald, what happens now that the Booker is open to Americans? Does the NBA open up to international competition? Do they invite James Spader to this year’s dinner? I’d like to see them adopt the Booker’s tradition of hiring celebrity judges. Then they could put the committee members and nominees in a room and film the deliberations. Who doesn’t want to see Adam Levine talk about Marilynne Robinson’s Lila on live television?
Yeah, you’re probably right.