A New Book Award for 2010…

I am going to do that thing of saying if you don’t always read every post I write (then how dare you, ha) then do please give this one a whirl! It is one that’s important to me and something that I am rather passionate about. A new book award has been unleashed this week and its one that is rather new and one that has really been a long time coming yet no one seems to have done it before in the UK, or even possibly the rest of the world. A prize ‘that dare not speak its name’, actually at several points this week that couldn’t have been truer, let me explain…

The whole thing actually started as an off-the-cuff comment by the author Paul Magrs (whose Brenda and Effie novels I love so) on twitter and facebook. One the day that ‘The Man Booker Longlist’ was announced he wondered why there was no award for writing for gay men and something that covered every genre? So an idea had been born and with a supportive ‘what a great idea’ comment from me and several emails later slowly but surely something real started to emerge.

Note:- Just to add in here I am aware that gay men get on the Booker list, in fact to longlisted authors are gay men this year. It’s just nothing specifically celebrating the gay male authors and their writing can be funny, exciting, harrowing, uplifting and challenging – and it can range right across the genres.

Initially named ‘The Man Fooker Prize’ we set up a site, managed to get three more judges and started contacting publishers and that was where we hit the first glitch… the name! All those publishers who actually responded (several didn’t but I wont name and shame them as they might yet) thought it was a great idea, the name just bothered them. Some didn’t care and have since submitted several titles (my reading plans are severely about to go up a certain creek) yet for some it seemed was perplexingly causing ‘controversy’, ‘being a little crude and graphic’ or ‘looking like a spoof’.

The latter I could understand but the reasoning behind the name one of my fellow judges put perfectly “it’s a response to the Booker – the monumentalism of it – and so the name is sort of important. The sense of irreverence and, well, fun are important. Sadly I can’t imagine ever hearing Mariella Frostrup saying it at teatime, but isn’t that part of it too? That it’s a bit cheeky, a bit impolite.”

However it seems if you want to get an award like this noticed you ironically have to be a little more conservative and demure and so after a few hours of brain storming ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ was born (in reference to Oscar Wilde, we are also announcing the winner on World Aids Day). This also meant therefore that so was a new website, second press release, email to all the publishers and press people in sundry having to explain the change, phew! I wonder if Kate Mosse had all this trouble with the Orange?

Naturally it would be amazing if all of you who read ‘Savidge Reads’ supported this. Not because I am a judge or helped found it but because it is an award that should be out there, it’s a subject that matters and is one we should be talking about. We all say we have gone forward with diversity, and in some ways we have… but is it as much as we think?

Do visit the site here and have a gander at everything, we would welcome feedback. Let us know if you can think of any books that match the criteria in the ‘Rules and Regulations’ as we would love to hear of as many books as possible. I know a lot of you have been doing GLBT challenges this year so all your suggestions could prove invaluable. And, though I am not begging, if you wanted to pop a link to the award in any round ups you do and a little bit about it that would be amazing, like I said though am not begging, might just be nice.

Right then I am off for some rest, it’s been a knackering week. Plus I better get cracking on all the other books I intended to read and need to before we get sampling everything for long listing! Eek! What reading plans have you got for the weekend, and what are your thoughts on ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ in general?



Filed under Book Thoughts

43 responses to “A New Book Award for 2010…

  1. How exciting for you Simon! What fun to be a judge for a literary prize!

  2. This is an excellent idea, and that’s amazing that you’ve helped make it happen. Though I’m doing the GLBT challenge this year, I haven’t read many new releases at all, and so I wouldn’t know what to suggest. I look forward to seeing the award’s long and short lists, though, as I’m sure they’ll help me discover plenty of great (and overlooked) books. Best of luck with everything!

  3. This is an excellent idea and I am so glad that you were part of mooting it. Thank you for the link. I will go visit.

  4. Well, I LOVED the Fooker name but this one is fun too!

    I think this award will be a fantastic way to highlight the wide variety of genres that gay authors contribute to. I thought the mention in the rules about “no children’s books” was kind of funny too. Can you imagine how many ridiculous people would love to ban books from their schools just for being mentioned in tandem with an award like this? Blah!

    One question … Is there a reason that you chose to only highlight male authors? Just curious, no judgment!

    • We liked the Fooker one too but there could have been some issues from a certain other book award as well as there being some issue from certain publishing quarters.

      The male writer question. I think, and I dont want to be held libel or be speaking for everyone on the board about this, initially because of the name Man Fooker and the fact it was two gay men that started it off that was the only reason. The name change means when we have time next year we may (though again I am only talking from my persepctive and its only a possibility) open it out.

  5. Congratulations on the public rolling out of this, Simon! I wish you luck but am personally disappointed that it is no longer the Man Fooker Prize, sniff and sad smiley. I’m also curious why it is male only or is it also -in its way- a response to the Orange prize? (You could have called it the fruit prize! Cough.)

    As for suggestions… I can’t think offhand of any newly-released GLBT lit I’ve read (a writer’s sexuality isn’t of any primary importance to me when choosing a book, in the same vein that their race and/or nationality or sex aren’t either) but what about Michael Cunningham’s forthcoming new novel, By Nightfall? I can’t wait to read it!

    • That fruit prize comment made me grin, I think though that (along with the suggestion of The Orange Tan prize by one of our facebookers) would possibly have had the same sort of reactionas Fooker.

      The man thing… see above with comment to Kristen. I may have a go at doing a FAQ on the site actually that might prove helpful as we are getting lots of interesting questions so thank you for yours.

  6. P.S. Please let us know once there is a Twitter account and Facebook page for the prize so we can promote those too!

    Oh, and I’ve just remembered that Armistead Maupin has a new Tales of the City book (Mary Ann in Autumn) out later this year!

    • We spotted the Armistead, I think I have only read up to Further Tales of the City which is a bit bad of me, I have some catching up to do if that one is submitted as you know how I like to do everything in order.

      Jane has popped the facebook link below I see and we are @TheGCPrize on twitter, get everyone following lol

  7. Simon, just wanted to let you know that I thought the “Man Fooker Prize” was so much more attention-grabbing and creative than the “Green Carnation Prize”! Too bad about the publicity concerns. In any event, good luck with this project and I look forward to seeing which worthy books start to receive more attention because of it. Cheers!

    • We loved The Man Fooker one too and it was getting attention… it just seemed to be back firing. I think people are fine with gay things, unless it makes them think of the act and Man Foker strangely enough made them focus on that bit. Plus we dont want it to become a spoof. Glad we have all your support though.

  8. I’m biased of course, because I love Oscar Wilde so much, but I really like Green Carnation Prize as a name! (Even if the original Green Carnation book didn’t necessarily do Oscar Wilde any favors. :p) This sounds great!

  9. Very good – I wish you all the best with it.

    I am looking forward to reading your review of The Slap (!)

    • Reading of The Slap has gone on hold Tom, partly because I wanted to wait in case the publishers put it forward (I do hope so as they publish Galgut too) and also because I need to get Updike read.

  10. This is a wonderful idea! I think the original name was hilarious, though I see why it might be difficult to get people to take it seriously 🙂

  11. That is awesome, Simon! How exciting for you! Will definitely be checking out that link.

  12. It is great that you’ve managed to set up a literary award. I hope that it is a real success for you. I’m afraid that like Claire I have no idea about the sexuality of most authors I read, but I look forward seeing which books are selected. Are you producing a short list?

    • I know what you mean about not knowing sexuality like not thinking of colour and all that and thats because you are about the writing and the books which is how it should be. We just think this award will highlight more great authors who happen to be gay men which can only promote great books.

      We announce longlist on the 1st of September and shortlist on the 1st of November, winner is on World Aids Day which is 1st of December (I have postponed Brazil trip by a week especially!)

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  14. What a shame you couldn’t run with the original name – as I thought it was genius! Still green carnation is pretty cool – though not quite as immediately obvious. Good luck with it all! 😉

  15. Jon Appleton

    I don’t want to put the dampener on this – but Jackie raises an excellent point. We don’t always know the sexuality of the authors we read, because it doesn’t necessarily matter. It isn’t the case that only gay authors write about gay subjects. Nor is it true that gay authors must only write about gay themes – look at Patrick Gale, who pretty much freely admits he alternates between gay and non gay themes in his novels. And as Simon pointed out, gay men are in no sense excluded from long and shortlists, so why generate a sense of exclusion that doesn’t actually exist? Also, this year I bought and read two gay novels – it was obvious from their marketing that this was part of their intended appeal. I have to say they are two of the most disappointing novels of 2010. If it hadn’t been for the gay theme, I wouldn’t have bought them. I was happpy to support them, but I’d hate to think my empathy for the subject matter would triumph over other factors in assessing them. I wouldn’t make them part of my Booker Dozen, but would I feel obliged to include them on my Green Carnation Dozen, because I’m aware of a list that needs to be filled and from which very many more titles are deemed ineligible? Perhaps I feel I don’t understand the reasons for the prize, and that possibly they have not been made clear. That doesn’t mean I don’t support it … yet. I’d love some clarification. Comments, please!

    • Jon you are right sexuality of authors doesnt and shouldnt matter. This is more a celebration, of gay male authors, and one that will hopefully publicize diversity and equalitynot exclusion of all others – you could say the Orange excludes male authors but theres a reason why its there.

      We also know some authors dont want to come out, as is their choice, because they worry they won’t sell. We aren’t as far forward as sometimes people like to think.

      Yes gay authors win awards, sometimes, but publishers have to pay a lot of money to enter certain awards and maybe less inclined to put a gay author with a very gay theme forward for that. Thats not something we have heard but we know its been alluded to in the past. So if its a free award it might get more submissions and while we are at it why not have one that celebrates gay mens writing regardless of genre or if in fact it has a gay theme?

      Theres enough room for another award and its about time we had one like this… an award that celebrates the broad diversity of the books gay men can write. Just because it has a gay theme doesnt mean it will get longlisted, its got to be a good book and the more good books are publicized the better.

      • Jon Appleton

        Thanks for that reassuring reply, Simon. I’m looking forward to the longlist. Good luck!

      • Not a problem at all Jon, we are really receptive to feedback and people asking the more questions the merrier. Because the Prize is still in its infancy we can also change things haha.

  16. Good luck with all of this! Let us know if there’s anything more we can do to help get the word out.

    I also liked the first name (since I can’t resist a good pun), but the Green Carnation has its charm, too.

    • Well I guess its just about getting the prize more noticed and more publicity now. The longlist announcement will probably help with that though. Any suggestions welcome though Lija as we really wanna get this thing noticed.

  17. This is amazing! Like many of the others, I’m a bit sad you had to change the name, but I love Oscar Wilde so no complaints here! I’m not doing the GLBT challenge this year for the same reason as Claire above (I’ll pick a book to read regardless of sexuality) and also because I didn’t know it was on, but I would be interested in finding out more titles to look up! Good luck!

    • Thank you very much for your support. The submissions that are coming in (I so want to share them all but I can’t) are very interesting and really ecclectic and two even had me saying ‘I never knew he was gay’! So there might be some surprises in store.

  18. What a great idea, Simon! Love both the names but I agree that Green Carnation will help it have as wider audience without people not taking it seriously. I’m really keen to see who you longlist. I will post a link to this post on my blog this week and help spread the word.

    • Thanks Boof, it wasnt my idea though initially, I just really loved Paul Magrs thoughts and so grabbed onto it and since then we have all really pushed it forward. Its very exciting and nice to know we have your support.

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  20. Frickin’ awesome idea! And I might be the only one, but I like the new name (also less easily mockable by those critics who are bound to have something less than complimentary to say about this award – eep I really hope the response is uber positive and less along the tired ‘why do we need this’ critique that gets rolled out for the Orange every year). Massive good luck with it, but oh why so long until the long list I might just burst with excitement!

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