Y En Primer Lugar... 6 Latinx Literary Prizes You May Not Have Heard of
Forget the Pulitzer, the Man Booker and other prizes which have historically skewed towards white and male winners (although admittedly this has gotten a little better recently). This trend is be particularly troubling as they are often used as proxies for what is Officially Good Literature™ which can can lead to a spiral of contracts and marketing dollars being used towards this same population while excluding Women and Writers of Color. In some worse case scenarios we can even see the awards used as political tools to promote heinous ideologies.
On the other hand, when used carefully, awards can highlight excellent but perhaps undernmarketed authors and works to a larger audience and conversely can can help introduce readers to new works or authors they would otherwise not know about. The Lambda Literary Awards come to mind for me in this category.
Either ways it’s always good to take awards with a grain of salt but if you ARE looking to expand outside the Pulitzer here are some more under the radar awards to keep an eye on. Who knows? You might find your next read or favorite author.
1. The Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize for Literature is granted in recognition of the literary work of women in the Hispanic world. It is named after the 17th century nun and scholar (there’s now a Netflix series about her life too!). It is awarded each year to the female author of a novel originally published in Spanish and carries US $10,000 cash prize as well as a translation of that work into English. The award is given by the Guadalajara International Book Fair.
2. The Américas Award was founded to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States, and to provide teachers with recommendations for classroom use. Authors and illustrators are honored during Hispanic Heritage month in an award ceremony at the Library of Congress.
3. Premio Nezahualcóyotl de Literatura en Lenguas Mexicanas was created to promote literary creativity for authors writing in Mexico’s indigenous languages and to incorporate Indigenous Mexican culture into contemporary Literature.
4. Best Translated Book Award was founded to draw attention to the best works of translated literature. The award’s emphasis is on the quality of the book and translation, with the argument that you can’t have a great work of literature without both of these aspects working at a very high level. This prize is not limited to Latino authors or Spanish language but the long and short list often contain an amazing selection of Latino American Authors.
5. The International Latino Book Awards are held annually by Latino Literacy Now, a California non-profit, in conjunction with Las Comadres para las Americas, & Reforma: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (an affiliate of the American Library Association).
6. Pura Belpré Award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children's librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.
This is just a short list of a array of Literary prizes that are awarded each year in wide variety of categories. Are there any that you think deserve a shout out? Leave a comment below and let us know!