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Literary Prize Cultures: A Fairer Future?

Marsden, Stevie



In June 2022, Costa Coffee announced that they would no longer be running the Costa Book Awards, one of the UK's most significant series of awards for fiction, children's books, poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction. The cancellation of the awards was sudden, with many from the world of publishing and literature, including former judges for the award, taking to Twitter to express their devastation and frustration at this ‘shock’ news. In the weeks that followed, more prizes seemed to follow suit. While the comings and goings of cultural awards, and near-constant threat to their financial security, is by no means a new phenomenon, the announcements of the termination and financial uncertainty of a number of major literary prizes in the UK, exposed the precarity of the cultural award sector more broadly. This article uses the demise of, or threat to, long-standing literary awards in the UK as a point of examination of the current funding and organisational model(s) favoured by prize-giving organisations to ascertain their sustainability and longevity. The termination of some of the most prominent and commercial literary awards in the UK suggests that such literary award models require a rethink of what prizes should contribute to culture and how. Accordingly, this article considers the current administrative and funding models of literary awards and questions whether we need to reassess how awards should celebrate and reward cultural achievements, and sustainable ways in which they can continue to support creators.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 21, 2023
Print ISSN 0269-0055
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 1
Pages 67-79
Keywords literary prizes, Costa Book Awards, prize culture, literary awards, funding


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