Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek
benpeek

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The Award Meme

Going round the blogsphere is the meme where you look at how many award winning novels you've read. I'm not sure why this meme exists, except to further enforce the idea that award winning novels should be read, and that if you're not reading them, you're missing the cream of the crop, as they say. Well, maybe. Since it's mostly a meme traveling in the blogs of the speculative fiction genre, the meme takes into account the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy, and the John W. Campbell Award. There's a few mentions of the Philip K. Dick award, the Triptree, whatnot. Since I'm Australia, I also added in the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and since I am also someone who doesn't much care about genre boundaries (and hey, isn't that what we should all be doing here?) I added the Miles Franklin, the Booker Man, and the Nobel Prize winning authors, of which I included them if I had ready any of their novels. There were a few other awards like the Commonwealth and the Pulitzer which I considered adding, but frankly, finding the winnings for them proved to be just too much effort, and so I just gave up.

Anyhow, I am sure that it will shock you all to learn that I have read very fucking little of the award winning novels that are out there. I suspect that my quota might rise on collections and anthologies and short fiction, but novel wise, I don't break into double digits once. In the one hundred and five years of the Nobel Literature Prize, however, I have read eleven of the authors, and have always meant to read another half a dozen or so. But that's my biggest score there. 11 Nobel authors. Cue the trumpets.

I have never read a Miles Franklin award winning novel, which is perhaps Australia's most long running award, having begun in 1957. Peter Carey has won it three times, but I haven't read those three novels, despite the fact that I do indeed own them. So in all likelihood, I will read them. Unless I die early. And I suppose I have read part of Tim Winton's Cloudstreet, but fuck me if I didn't just loathe that book, and I refused to finish it. I've loathed Winton in my own special way ever since.

The Australia speculative fiction scene has faired better out of me, as I've read three Aurealis novels, and three books which won the conveners award. I wasn't sure if to include the last section there, but Shaun Tan has won it twice, for the Rabbits and the Lost Thing, and you know, any reason for mentioning Tan's work is good enough for me. Since the Aurealis Award kick in in 1996, I'm doing okay, I reckon, through it's desire to split every genre up and give it its own award makes it have more novels in it than is otherwise recommended.

Hugo and Nebula wise, I'm on six and five. The Hugo begins and 1953, the Nebula in 1965, and most of the novels I've read are books that have won both, such as Gibson's awful Neuromancer (though he has since redeemed himself with the really fine Pattern Recognition). American Gods is another example, and it also has the joy of being the only Bram Stoker winning novel that I've read. Of course, since I don't really like Peter Straub or Stephen King, I'm kinda behind the eight ball on that award.

I have read three and a half books in the World Fantasy category, because I never finished Christopher Priest's the Prestige. Say what you will: the book was just boring. The award has been running since 1975, and I'd be on Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness only if James Morrow hadn't won it twice, once for Only Begotten Daughter, and again for Towing Jehovah. And if there's one thing I dig, it's a James Morrow novel, which is why I have a copy of his latest, The Last Witchfinder, which I look forward to reading. Campbell Award wise, I've read two.

Lastly, I had actually thought I'd read more of the Booker Man winners than I had, but it turns out I've read a lot of the Booker winning authors other books, and so my tally there is 3. The Booker has been round since 1963, incidently.

Anyhow, as you can see, awards are Important to Me. I buy Award Winning Books all the time. I pay special attention to Award Winning Authors...

Yes, well.

While reading through the lists of winners, I have to be honest that most of the winning books didn't strike me in that, "I must read these," kind of way, which I suspect means that I won't. I'm not particularly fussed. I'm quite capable of finding my own literature and judging it on my own value system. In fact, maybe award winning books are a bit like award winning movies, and award winning albums, and award winning TV shows, which is that they're not very interesting, and that the award shows are a bit useless, like the Logies, and when you really think about it, the reason why Speilberg's films win awards and why the Dixie Chicks have award winning albums doesn't really have anything to do with the daring, the cutting edge, or even the just plain uncomfortableness, that comes from something unique.
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