CULTURE

Too many awards not enough words?

Greek literary awards almost outnumber books. Three literary journals each have their own juries and awards, their own prize-giving ceremonies in new, glamorous or alternative venues, often presented by television personalities. This abundance of private awards is in addition to the state awards, whose jury is deciding on books written in 2005. The recently established periodical Na Ena Milo presented its awards first, on April 1; the longest established magazine, Diavazo, made its tenth awards last week, after a brief hiatus; while the newest, Dekata, comes last on May 14, with prizes for foreign literature too. Over-production of books is matched by an over-abundance of judges, too many of whom are writers, judging their fellow authors. The first conclusion to be drawn from the shortlists is the absence of established names. Each jury chose titles by young writers, often the same ones, which have been been critical successes but not bestsellers. What do these new prizes mean for literature? Have they introduced new criteria? Do they influence readers? Do they shape future bestseller lists? At Kathimerini’s request, two literary critics and two literature professors tackled the subject, noting where the juries converged and diverged, highlighting the subjectivity of the criteria and analyzing the role of the awards in the publishing market.