With this list of Booker contenders now on the scene, I am reminded of a question that nags at me from time to time, and I share it with you (and others who visit this site) as a way of perhaps arriving at an answer.First the caveat and then the question.Caveat: Book awards and prizes may or may not be reliable measures of any book's worth.Question: Which annual book prize or award do you feel is the most "objective" and useful to readers in terms of appropriately recognizing meritorious books? Pulitzer? Booker? National Book Award? National Book Critics Circle? PEN/Faulkner? Others?I'd be interest in hearing your comments.
Hello RT, I can't say about objectivity, but the publishing cycle in former English colonies, such as India, tends to follow the UK, and so the Booker is generally more discussed than the Pulitzer here. Which also means higher sales and better criticism in the press.
You've touched upon two important points: (1) the lingering influence of British colonization (which is too big of a topic to be addressed here and now); (2) the cause-and-effect relations between prizes and sales (and criticism), which suggests nothing about quality of writing but says more about manipulation of the marketplace. The second point is the area that most concerns me about prizes and awards because my innate cynicism leads me to conclude that there is much more at stake in the awarding of prizes and awards than literary merit since judges almost always have less than objective agendas (even if they will not come right out and admit to such motivations).
Yes, I will have to agree with you there. "The White Tiger" received unprecendented publicity here since its author is Indian. These matters do come to the fore, but I am not sure it's got to do entirely with a manipulative marketplace.