Plus - Letter to the editor

The book awards business calls for serious re-think

Let us readers and authors take a look at the books that have won literary awards these past few years. Writing about these books’ merits and demerits, and of writing standards in general, one journalist said these works did not qualify to go beyond “the fundamental phase of initial screening”.

Reading through these award-winning books, one wonders how they made it to the top. One finds no substance, no literary value of any kind. Also, there seems to be a total disregard for style and grammar, and scant regard for literary theory.

We see the use of coarse and crude words and phrases that are totally inappropriate for books of any genre. Peppered with crudities, these books are unreadable and drag literature down to its lowest depth.

Most book awards trigger controversy involving money, publishers and cartels. Take a look at the book awards scenario. Prize-winning authors become judges, judges become authors. Who helps whom? Names seem to matter more than writing skills.

It is imperative that high standards be maintained when submitting books for awards. Judges must ensure that these books contribute to the enhancement of English literature and that they promote diversity and growth in the literary scene.

Those well-meaning people who form trusts to promote literary activities must ensure that those who sit on the adjudicating panels to assess these books are honest and discerning. This whole book awards business demands a serious re-think.

Emjay, Colombo

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