2011 Awards Round-up (5): Wins and some Controversies

I’m back, a week later than expected.  I missed all this. Lots of news on literary awards to report.  Here goes:

The winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced on May 21, 2011. Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love won the overall Best Book and Craig Cliff’s A Man Melting won the Best First Book. I’ve just started reading The Memory of Love and I’m really liking it :).  I hope she goes on to win the Orange Prize as well.

The 2011 winner of Pulitizer Prize for fiction is Jennifer Egan’s A Visit by the Goon Squad.  The other finalists were The Privileges by Jonathan Dee, and  The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee.

Ms. Egan ‘s book also won the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction.  You can read about the winners in the other categories here. Goon Squad is kicking ass :).

The 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Carribbean Literature goes to Derek Walcott for his book of poetry White Egrets.

Ghana’s Benjamin Kwakye has been awarded the 2011 IPPY Gold Award for Multicultural Fiction for book, The Other Crucifix.  Thanks to Geosi Reads for this news. My review of the book is here.

Red April by Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo has won the 2011 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.  He will share the prize with the translator Edith Grossman.  The shortlisted books are:

  • Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky from the German, published by Portobello Books
  • Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras, translated by Frank Wynne from the Spanish, published by Atlantic Books
  • The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely from the Turkish, published by Faber and Faber
  • I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson from the Norwegian, published by Harvill Secker
  • Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo, translated by Edith Grossman from the Spanish, published by Atlantic Books
  • The Sickness by Alberto Barrera Tyszka, translated by Margaret Jull Costa from the Spanish, published by MacLehose Press

Stu of Winstonsdad’s blog read and reviewed all but one of the shortlisted books. Really, visit his blog.

 love german books reports that The Buchner Prize, Germany’s most prestigious literary prize has been awarded to Friedrich Christian Delius. His novella, Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, published by Peirene Press, was quite popular among bloggers.  See a review by Amy Reads.

Thomas Teal’s translation from the Swedish of Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver has won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award in the fiction category.  You can read up on the full list of winners here.

The first Grand Prize for Caribbean Literature has been awarded to Earl Lovelace for his novel, Is Just A Movie.  Lovelace is from Trinidad.  I’m a fan of his work.  I recommend The Dragon Can’t Dance and Salt, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Really, we’ve strayed a long way from Caribbean literature here at Kinna Reads.  Bad, bad, girl.

The American writer Philip Roth has won the 2011 Man Booker International Prize.  Read the full announcement, released on May 18, 2011, here.  This year’s prize is a prime example of how not to judge a world prize and has seen its share of controversies.  First, John le Carré  withdrew his name from consideration. Now, I’m sure that le Carre has previously said that he does not compete for prizes.  So why do the judges still insist on adding his name to the list?  Just so the poor author has to release a statement declining the nomination?  What a bother!  It gets worse.  One of the three judges resigned from the panel when it became obvious that the other two were intent on giving the prize to the American.  She then went on to release her press statement. This, of course, prompted several defenses of Roth’s work on both western sides of the Atlantic, in print and electronic media. To top it off, one of the other two judges then released an inflammatory piece on how non-English nominated writers were disadvantaged by bad translations.  Lord have mercy.  In this day and age, with the advances in translation, is a “Super Booker” judge dissing translated works?  Really?   This man needs to get out of the English stacks of the library and stroll in the aisles of translated fiction. Booker folks, please select better judges next time. Make sure to include some who actually read translated fiction. Also, find some multi-lingual judges.  I do hope that Mr. Roth enjoys his win in spite of the antics of this band of incompetent judges.

I’m yet to read a Roth novel.  Have you read any?  Have you heard of Earl Lovelace? Any thoughts on the other award winners?



  1. Tried reading Portnoy’s Complaint a long time ago and I agree with amymckie, bleh. But, I read Nemesis last year and really enjoyed it (about the polio epidemic in the U.S. in the 1940s). I hear American Pastoral is his best. One day I’ll work up the courage to try it.

    Thanks for the post–super interesting!


    • I heard about Nemesis and thought the subject would interest me. Anyway, I;ve promised myself a reading of one of best books before long…


  2. I read one Roth novel and bleh. The controversy is crazy and it’s been interesting watching the news articles on it. Thanks for another great round-up of great news.


  3. Thanks for informing me about the Pulitzer Prize. It one one prize I am keen to follow. And oh! I am waiting for your review of The Memory of love.


  4. many thanks for the mention ,I ll have look into caribbean writing prize this is somewhere I want to try and find more books from over next year or so ,all the best stu


  5. I haven’t read any of Roth’s novels, but I share your opinions. Judges should read more translated fiction and maybe also be multilingual.

    I have read Earl Lovelace’s “The Dragon Can’t Dance” and I liked it a lot. I’m happy to hear that he has won the Grand Prize for Caribbean Literature!


  6. This was an informative post-I feel like I should follow all the awards and prizes, but I never do. Do you know of any writers from the Virgin Islands? That’s where my husband is from, and I’d love to know of novels or stories coming out of that culture.


    • No, I don’t know of any writers from the Virgin Islands. Let’s say, I have not searched for one yet. But my interest is piqued. Might have to search for one…


      • I did find one novelist from St. Thomas (my husband’s birthplace). Her name is Tiphanie Yanique, and her novel is How to Escape from a Leper Colony. I will keep looking for more…


      • That’s right. And it was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. In fact, it won the fiction category.


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