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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Literary Fiction Guide: Literary Prizes & Publishers

A guide of resources for anyone interested in reading literary fiction

Literary Prizes

One of the best ways to search for literary fiction books is to look at literary prizes given each year. Below you'll find some great starting ones. 

  • Nobel Prize in Literature
    • Years Covered: 1901 to present
    • This site not only lists winners but it also contains biographies, selected bibliographies, photos, Nobel lectures, interviews and articles written by and about Nobel Prize Laureates.
    • Tip: There are also several volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography devoted specifically to Nobel Prize laureates. 
  • Pulitzer Prize
    • Years Covered: 1917 to present
    • Award Categories: Biography or Autobiography, Drama, Fiction, History, Nonfiction, and Poetry
    • This sophisticated site offers a searchable database of past winners and nominated finalists. Biographies and photographs of winners are included on the website.
  • Booker Prize for Fiction
    • Years Covered: 1969 to present
    • In addition to listing prize winners (past and present), this site has press releases, author biographies and photos of the latest year's winners.
  • National Book Awards
    • Years Covered: 1950 to present
    • Award Categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People's Literature
    • Contains acceptance speeches, selected author study guides (connect to from the "Publications" page), which include essays about and interviews with past National Book winners and finalists.
  • National Book Critics Circle
    • Years Covered: 1981 to present
    • Award Categories: Fiction, General Nonfiction, Biography and Autobiography, Poetry and Criticism
    • Lists past winners and contains synopses of the works of all the winners for the current year.
  • Women's Prize for Fiction
    • Years Covered: 1996 to present
    • This relatively recent literary award honors female writers of fiction. The site includes biographies, reviews and interviews with the winners for the past two years.
  • Costa Book Awards
    • Years Covered: 1971 to present
    • Award Categories: Book of the Year, Children's Book of the Year, Novel, First Novel, Biography and Poetry
    • Formerly called the Whitbread Book Awards. The website for this UK award features an archive of past winners.
  • PEN Literary Awards
    • A series of awards in a number of different categories, ranging from poetry to biography to sports and science writing.

For an exhaustive list of international literary prizes by country, see Wikipedia's Literary Award Page.

Poetry Prizes

Although many of the prizes listed above include subcategories for poetry, these prizes are devoted exclusively to celebrating achievements in poetry. 

  • Griffin Poetry Prize
    • Years Covered: 2001 to present.
    • A Canadian prize, though awarded also to international poets: the award is given annually to one Canadian poet and one international author of a work in English. Translators of poetry are also eligible.
  • Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
    • Years Covered: 1986 to present.
    • Awarded annually, the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honors a living US poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. 
  • Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition
    • Years Covered: 1919 to present.
    • The famous Yale competition honors the first poetry collection of an American poet: writers submit their manuscripts, and the winning collection is published. Past winners have included John Ashbery, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, W.S. Merwin, and Robert Hass. The website includes guidelines for submitting manuscripts.
  • Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards
    • Years Covered: 1993 to present.
    • A pair of annual awards: the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award goes to a poet at mid-career, while the Kate Tufts Discovery Award is awarded for a poet's first book.
  • T.S. Eliot Prize
    • Years Covered: 1993 to present.
    • Administered by the T.S. Eliot Foundation, the T.S. Eliot Prize is awarded annually to the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the UK and Ireland. It has the distinction of being judged by a panel of established poets.

Publishers

Another great place to look for literary fiction is in publishing websites. Below are some of the ones you could explore:

  • Catapult
    • Founded in 2015, this publisher "publishes books of the highest literary caliber." 
    • They have "stunning stories that expose and reveal every stage of evolution, from hope to pain to struggle to submission."

  • Rose Metal Press
    • Founded in 2006, Rose Metal Press is a not-for-profit publisher specializing in the publication of flash fiction and nonfiction; prose poetry; novels-in-verse or book-length linked narrative poems; novellas-in-flash; lyric essays; text and image works; and other literary works that move beyond the traditional genres of poetry, fiction, and essay to find new forms of expression.​
  • 2Leaf Press
    • ​"2Leaf Press challenges the status quo by publishing alternative fiction, non‐fiction, poetry and bilingual works by activists, academics, poets and authors. We are especially dedicated to publishing scholarship regarding diversity and social justice that is accessible to the general public."
  • 39 West Press
    • "39 West Press is an independent book publisher committed to releasing books that encourage critical thinking and promote constructive discourse on key social, cultural, political, and economic issues affecting life in the U.S. "
    • They publish "publish books of art, poetry, literary fiction, and creative non-fiction."
  • Seven Stories Press
    • ​"Whether political or literary or both together, Seven Stories is as well known for publishing on human rights, social and economic justice, and media as for its prize-winning American fiction, literature in translation, and poetry collections."
    • They publish books in English and other languages- "as much as 25% of our list in any given season may be works in translation from the French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Russian, Swedish, Polish, Korean, or Vietnamese among other languages."
  • Crown Publishing Group
    • ​A subsidiary of Random House, they publish fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography/memoir, cooking, health, business, and lifestyle. 
    • They also have readers guides
  • Chicago Review Press
    • They publish an assortment of different books, both nonfiction and fiction and for both adults and children. 
  • Platypus Press
    • A boutique press based in England that publishes "innovative contemporary poetry and prose from a broad variety of voices and experiences.
    • There's great mini-chapbooks of poetry free to download and read/print! 
  • PERSEA BOOKS 
    • "Our books cover a wide range of themes, styles, and genres. We have published poetry, fiction, essays, memoir, biography, titles of Jewish and Middle Eastern interest, women's studies, American Indian folklore, and revived classics, as well as a notable selection of works in translation."
    • ​"The aim of the press is to publish works that endure by meeting high standards of literary merit and relevance."
  • BlazeVOX 
    • Their books "push at the frontiers of what is possible with our innovative poetry, fiction and select non-fiction and literary criticism."
    • Their "outlets of publication strive to enrich cultural and intellectual life, and foster regional pride and accomplishments."

If you would like to explore more, the Poet's and Writer's Small Presses page is an excellent starting place (and where a few of the links above came from!)

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Libguide Originally Created By: Melina Zavala