Written by Madalyn Campbell
LitHub recently published an article detailing award-winning books that have been generally forgotten in time. Scrolling down the list, even the most avid reader may find themselves facing completely unheard-of books. These books earned highest honors, yet they have been swept up in the tidal wave of history. How much merit do literary awards actually hold? Obviously, simply winning an award isn’t a guarantee your book will stand the test of time. Perhaps books that snag an award can find their way into the hands of people who read through award lists, but is that all awards are good for?
What is a literary award when it comes down to it? Objectivity in this kind of thing is impossible, no matter how many judges you seat around a table. Literature is a personal experience. You can bring a thick binder of measurements and rubrics, but your personal tastes will still flavor the sort of things that make it onto your score chart in the first place. How much value can one put on literary awards? Maybe reading a book and judging for yourself is the best method; maybe recognition is overrated. Or maybe things are meant to be enjoyed one day and forgotten the next.
What stands out at one time may never stand out again. Both literary awards and Best Seller lists wane and fade over time. How does a book last forever? Clearly, gaining an award under its belt won’t keep it alive. Maybe even books can’t live forever. And what of the books with no awards to their names, swept away by much more unforgiving tides? If anything, this feels like inspiration to find the most obscure book possible and help it live on a little longer.