By Deb A.
Identifying the 'best book of the year' is a highly subjective endeavour that takes place every year in various permutations across the globe. Nevertheless, a few awards have managed to build an aura of authority that leaks on to the dust jackets of proud nominees. Today we take a look at just a handful from the English-speaking world in case you're in need of a new bedtime read. If you're unsure of where to begin, only one title appears more than once here: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; the Indian-American author made it onto both the Man Booker shortlist and the National Book Awards longlist.
Man Booker Prize: To "the very best book of the year"--as long as it's been written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe, or the Republic of Ireland. (Controversially, all English-language writers--including Americans--will be eligible as of 2014.) After much ado and a few rounds of wagers, the winner will be announced on October 15.
National Book Award for Fiction: To the best book written by an American citizen and published by an American publisher. The finalists will be announced on October 16, which gives you just under a month to pack the follwing longlist on to your e-reader. The winner will be announced on November 20.
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize: To an author whose debut work represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.
Women's Prize for Fiction: A celebraton of excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing around the world. Formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction, this will be known as the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction as of 2014.
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