winner envelope

Ten reasons to avoid award winning books

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winner envelope

Recently, one of my students told me he avoids all films that win a Sundance award.

And I agree because this independent film festival — established by Robert Redford in the late 1970s — has had its fair share of obscure stinkers.

Does anyone remember the 2010 Grand Jury winner Obselidia? No? Then maybe you recall (or not) How to Die in Oregon which claimed the top prize the following year.

And what about last year’s winner Fruitvale Station?

If none of them sound familiar it’s because they rarely impact on anyone other than festival audiences.

Long, dreary and pointless films win awards the same way books win literary prizes. That is, they both need a plot that nobody is remotely interested in and a self-important judging panel.

For an over-inflated tome to be considered for a Booker, Miles Franklin or Faulkner (and hundreds of other literary awards) authors can follow ten conventional steps.

They must write a book that:

  • Will only ever be read by the judging panel.
  • Is at least 200 pages too long.
  • Fails to entertain, amuse or encourage any form of critical thinking because the reader will be brain dead after the first chapter.
  • Contains sentences with the maximum amount of words that readers have never heard, pronounced or encountered in any conversation.
  • Has a pretentious title.
  • Has a pretentious author.
  • Contains characters devoid of humour.
  • Fades into obscurity within a year of its release.
  • Has a writer who belongs, or aims to join, the same 10 nominated authors ever considered by judging panels.
  • If film rights are negotiated then the movie must be eligible for a Sundance Award.

Readers would do well to avoid them.

Those who believe winning awards for a book, film, music, painting or any other creative pursuit somehow makes it more worthy than another should aim to join a judging panel.


Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

3 thoughts on “Ten reasons to avoid award winning books

  1. May I suggest an exception to this rule?
    The Man Booker winner 2013—-Eleanor Catton
    The Book: The Luminaries all 800+ pages of it.
    One of the best books I’ve read for a long time despite its length. I couldn’t put it down. So maybe there is hope for Award Winning Books after all.

      1. Judge not, that you shall not be judged is my motto!!
        All the same, there is room for a little cynicism I suppose.

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