Mystery Writers Awards

Mystery Writers AwardsWhoa! There are far more awards for writers of crime fiction than I realized. I thought I knew them all, even a rather low key one called the Hammett Prize. Uh, no. Apparently not. Some mystery writers awards are within a more general literary group, just one section.  I was unaware of  these and perhaps, understandably so. But some others, I should been familiar with. I’m knowledgable about most US, Canada, and UK mystery writer awards, but within the confines my english speaking world, I left out very important ones in various countries.

For example, France. Le Prix Mystère de la Critique  is awarded annually by book critics in France to the best crime novel by a French author and the best foreign novel translated into French published during the previous year. From some of the past winners I confirmed what I had already assumed. Of the foreign authors I recognized they are of the hard boiled school. James Lee Burke won twice in the last two decades or so, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, Donald Westlake (I believe he was the first to win the award issued to a foreigner) James Ellroy, Robin Cook,  and James Crumley, all have reps for the darker fiction, the ‘noir’ genre, if you will. Of the names I knew, not one was a woman. But the French individuals who won, seem to be mixed.  I have no idea whom any are. I wonder if that is because their books aren’t translated into English?  Marin Ledun won the prize in 2011, so I googled–naturally all info was in French, and darn-nit, wouldn’t you know I took Spanish in high school? Wouldn’t matter, I would only be able to translate if Bobby were going to the  biblioteca, anyway. Lendun appears to be a suspense writer whose title  Modus Operandi  was good enough to win. One of the names I believed was female, turned out not to be the case. However, Dominique Manotti writes what are considered “social detective novels”  and one person likened her to a female James Ellroy-if you’ve ever read Ellroy, that means she harder than the usual boiled!

Traveling along to other distant lands, Norway has their own prize: ‘The Rivertonprisen (Riverton Prize)  is awarded annually by the Riverton Club to the best Norwegian work of literary crime (novel, short story, play, screenplay) published during the year listed for the prize.’  A man named Chris Tvedt won this year, and I’d love to tell you about him, but everything that comes up is in a language I don’t even recognize–which makes me an idiot American, I know. We are not exactly primed in different languages, as is Europe. Which is a shame, we are missing all these super writers.

‘The Swedish Crime Academy  (Svenska Deckarakademin)  was founded in 1971, which is also the first year in which the organization began recognizing outstanding crime fiction. Initially, only books translated into Swedish were given awards — with the occasional award for Best First Novel in Swedish — then in 1982 original crime novels in Swedish were given their own category. (In this latter category, if an English translation exists, its title is given too.)’  Now this is odd. Originally, they didn’t award their own countrymen?  Scanning the translated winners, this country is less violent–not too surprising, right, lol. The likes of Peter Robinson, Thomas Cook, Ian Pears, tend to be realistic, but with less overt violent content.

The Finns seem to present a general award to those who qualify as foreign writers. ‘The Vuoden Johtolanka (Clue) Award  is given annually to the best Finnish crime fiction novel by the Dekkariseura (Finnish Crime Society). Beginning in 1993, the society also recognized a foreign author, whose work has been translated into Finnish.’ No specific title seems to be listed for say, P. D. James when she recently was awarded a prize.

It does seem that a certain part of Europe takes its crime fiction seriously. Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, and now Danes all have awards for this genre.  I wonder why that is? Cold nights–nothing else to do but read about murder? ‘The Harald Mogensen-prisen (Harald Mogensen Award)  is given annually by the Danske Kriminalakademi (Danish Crime Academy) to the best Crime Novel published in Denmark the previous year. The award is named after Harald Mogensen (1912-2002), a Danish editor, in recognition of his contribution to the field of literary crime.’

Here’s one I wholly applaud!  ‘The Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel  is given for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident. A panel of seven local and international judges consider the best of locally written crime and thriller fiction published during the previous year.’ I loved Ngaio Marsh’s books and although she lived in England most of her life, she was born in New Zealand and set a few of her novels there. (So far I’ve no idea what kind of representation for these awards are given.  Would a bust of Ngaio Marsh, similar to Poe –The Edgar Award–be what the writers receive?)

Now that I’ve gotten many of the foreign awards taken care of, I’m tackling the more obscure ones here in the US. I suppose those readers who live in this part of the country are well aware of this award, but  it’s the first I’ve learned of it. ‘The Los Angeles Book Prize  is an annual award recognizing outstanding books in nine categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction.’  The mystery/thriller category was established in 2000. So it’s not been around very long–here’s an excuse for me missing it, ha. Out of the first 10 awards given, at least two were women, a nice change of pace. Well, at least 2 is more than, uh, none. (OH! Just realized this is the prize given out at the annual Los Angeles Festival of Books–a well known important celebration of literature)

This next one is iffy for me–USA Book News.  Handing out awards? And not just a few–but in 150 categories? And what are considered ‘independent’ Are self pubs slipping in there? ‘The Best Books Awards honor outstanding books from mainstream and independent publishing houses and are sponsored by USA Book News’.

I honestly thought this would a short easy roundup of mystery writers awards. Ha. Is anything that simple? Who knew? Look for part two, coming to a near you soon!