The Award-Winning Books of 2023: A literary triumph
As the year draws to a close, the literary world is ablaze with celebration as outstanding authors claim their well-deserved victories in prestigious literary awards. From the heart of Africa to the shores of the United Kingdom, the winners of 2023’s biggest book prizes have left an indelible mark on the literary landscape.
Nigeria Prize for Literature: Grit Triumphs
The prestigious Nigeria Prize for Literature, honouring erudition by Nigerian authors, crowned Obari Gomba the champion for his work, Grit. The grand award night at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos witnessed Gomba’s victory, with Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Chairperson of the Advisory Board, praising *Grit* as a transcendent play that goes beyond its covers, earning Gomba a well-deserved $100,000 prize.
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Trust in Hernan Diaz
In the realm of distinguished American fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction found its victor in Hernan Diaz for his enthralling tour de force, Trust, published by Riverhead. Hamilton Cain from Oprah Daily hailed it as a glorious novel about empires, erasures, staggering fortunes, and unspeakable misery. With a cash prize of $15,000, Diaz’s *Trust* stands as a formidable contender in the literary arena.
National Book Award: Justin Torres’ Lyrical Triumph with Blackouts
Justin Torres emerged victorious in the National Book Award’s recognition of outstanding literary fiction by a U.S. citizen. His lyrical novel, *Blackouts* from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, weaves together erasure poetry and queer history, creating an epic conversation that mesmerised the judges. The novel’s exploration of reality’s delirious disorientation captivated Hugh Ryan of The New York Times Book Review.
Booker Prize: Paul Lynch’s Dystopian Masterpiece, Prophet Song
Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song claimed the prestigious Booker Prize for the best original novel in English published in the UK. A reflection of war-torn countries and the refugee crisis, Lynch’s work drew parallels with real-world conflicts, delivering a literary manifesto for empathy. The £50,000 prize underscores the novel’s importance in addressing pressing global issues.
International Booker Prize: Georgi Gospodinov’s Time Shelter Transcends Boundaries
Georgi Gospodinov’s Time Shelter, skillfully translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel, secured the International Booker Prize. A nostalgia artist, Gospodinov’s work explores memory’s ambiguous pleasures and wistful attractions. Sam Sacks from The Wall Street Journal noted the novel’s diffuse yet rewarding nature, symbolic of a continent recovering from the impacts of World War II and the Cold War.
National Book Critics Circle Award: Ling Ma’s Bliss Montage
Ling Ma’s Bliss Montage earned the National Book Critics Circle Award for its exploration of the strangeness of living in a body, the absurdity of carrying race and gender, all against the backdrop of an America in ruin. Bruna Dantas Lobato of Astra praised Ma’s restrained prose style, dry humour, and clever gut-punch endings, making *Bliss Montage* a standout in contemporary fiction.
Kirkus Prize: James McBride’s Unforgettable The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store
James McBride’s The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store claimed the Kirkus Prize with its astute, withering, giddy, damning, and jubilant narrative. A powerful exploration of race, prejudice, and hope, McBride’s novel masterfully navigates the complexities of the human experience, earning him the $50,000 prize.
Women’s Prize for Fiction: Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead Shines
Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead stood out in the Women’s Prize for Fiction, celebrating the best original full-length novel written in English and published in the UK by a female author. A fierce examination of contemporary poverty and drug addiction, *Demon Copperhead* exemplifies Kingsolver’s ability to simultaneously entertain and advocate for reform.
PEN/Faulkner Award: Yiyun Li’s Eerie and Intimate The Book of Goose
Yiyun Li claimed the PEN/Faulkner Award for her eerie and intimate novel, The Book of Goose. The novel delves into the lack of personal agency for two very different girls, exploring how it shapes their destinies. Li’s powerful depiction of characters’ double consciousness resonates, making her a deserving recipient of the $15,000 prize.
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction: Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rez
Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rez earned the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, showcasing his flawless prose and compassionate storytelling. Talty’s stunning portrayal of a family navigating crises establishes him as a major talent, earning him the $25,000 prize.
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction: Julie Otsuka’s The Swimmers
Julie Otsuka’s The Swimmers claimed the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. A novel that blends nonfiction elements, Otsuka’s powerfully subdued prose explores the depths of longing, loss, and the ordinary proclivities that define us. Otsuka’s achievement is recognized with the $5,000 prize.
International Dublin Literary Award: Katja Oskamp’s Marzahn, Mon Amour
Katja Oskamp’s Marzahn, Mon Amour, skillfully translated by Jo Heinrich, emerged victorious in the International Dublin Literary Award. The novel captures a piece of modern German history, offering intimate insights into lives navigating triumphs, tragedies, and great fortitude.
Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize: Tyriek White’s We Are a Haunting
Tyriek White’s *We Are a Haunting* claimed the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize with its gorgeous exploration of loss, survival, and community. White’s inventive structure and brilliant use of language make this debut novel a stunningly original work, earning him the $10,000 prize.
Los Angeles Times Book Prize: Aamina Ahmad’s The Return of Faraz Ali and Mircea Cărtărescu’s Solenoid
Aamina Ahmad’s The Return of Faraz Ali triumphed in the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction category. A sizzling, noir-like plot intertwining political intrigue and family saga, Ahmad’s novel earned her the $1,000 prize.
Mircea Cărtărescu’s Solenoid won in the Fiction category, celebrated for its meticulous borrowing of hyperliterature elements. A novel that blends the pedestrian and the bizarre, *Solenoid* stands as a work of unreality, earning Cărtărescu acclaim and recognition.
Edgar Award: Danya Kukafka’s Notes on an Execution and Eli Cranor’s Don’t Know Tough
Danya Kukafka’s poetic and mesmerising Notes on an Execution claimed the Edgar Award for Best Novel. This year’s awards ceremony highlighted outstanding contributions to the genre across various categories, showcasing the diverse talent within the literary world.
In the category of Best First Novel, Eli Cranor’s Don’t Know Tough from Soho Crime took centre stage.
Nebula Award, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, R.F. Kuang’s Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence
The novel was lauded for its inventive and engaging narrative, drawing comparisons to literary greats like Philip Pullman and N.K. Jemisin.
Hugo Award recognises T. Kingfisher’s Nettle & Boneas the best science fiction or fantasy story exceeding 40,000 words.
The novel was commended for its cleverness, bold-hearted storytelling, and the portrayal of complex themes such as domestic abuse with compassion and dignity.
Bram Stoker Award, presented by the Horror Writers Association, honoured Gabino Iglesias for The Devil Takes You Home
Iglesias’ work was described as riveting, offering a noir exploration that delves into the depths of darkness and cycles of violence, blending English and Spanish to enrich the narrative.