Literary prizes come in more shapes and sizes than ever before: we have prizes that echo the Man Booker, and prizes that set out not to be the Man Booker; we have prizes for first novels, second novels, crime novels that don’t feature violence against women, and, more satirically, a prize for “bad sex in fiction”. Why do we need so many? Do we need them at all? And how do prizes work not only for writers but for those people who do all the reading (and sometimes arguing): the judges?
Toby Lichtig is the Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He has written for a range of publications, including the TLS, Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, New Humanist, Financial Times and GQ, and has appeared as a regular guest on various podcasts and radio shows, including the BBC'sFront Row. He also freelances as a documentary producer, specialising in arts and social affairs programmes. He was chair of judges for this year’s Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Prize.
Michael Caines works at the Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Shakespeare and the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2013) and the editor of a TLS bicentennial celebration of Jane Austen. He is writing a short book about literary prizes, and a slightly longer book about Brigid Brophy.
Alex Clark is a critic, journalist and broadcaster who lives in London, and is the current Artistic Director for Words and Literature at the Bath Festival. She writes on a wide range of subjects for the Guardian, Observer, Spectator and Times Literary Supplement. She has judged many literary awards, including the 2008 Man Booker prize. She regularly chairs live events, appears on radio and is the host of a monthly podcast for Vintage publishing.