2010 literary prize season begins with UK's Costa Awards

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The Independent Culture

Major literary prizes are awarded throughout the year, with some annual highlights including the Man Booker Prize in the UK, the US Pulitzer Prize, and the French Prix Goncourt. In 2010, the season of major literary prizes begins on January 5 with the announcement of the Costa Book Award-winners.

Costa Book Awards
January 5/26
London, UK

The Costa Book Awards, previously called the Whitbread awards, are given annually to authors based in the UK and Ireland. Launched in 1971, the awards recognize the "most enjoyable books of the year," and are a more populist version of the Booker Prize. Winners are chosen in five categories, and an overall winner (to be announced January 26) is named Costa Book of the Year. The 2010 shortlists were announced in late November.

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
New York City, USA

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the US, has been awarded since 1918 (then called the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel). The prize honors distinguished fiction by an American author. To be eligible, a work must be entered with a $50 entry fee. Recent winners include The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2007), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2008), and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2009).

Orange Prize for Fiction
June 9
London, UK

The Orange Prize for Fiction is awarded to a female author of any nationality for the best original full-length novel written in English. The award is often grouped with the Costa Book Award and the Man Booker Prize as part of the trinity of major UK book awards. American author Marilynne Robinson won the 2009 award for her novel Home, which also won a Pulitzer Prize. A 2010 shortlist will be announced April 20.

Man Booker Prize
October 12
London, UK

The Man Booker Prize, one of the English-speaking world's most important literary prizes, selects the best novel written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. Hilary Mantel was the winner of the 2009 award for her novel Wolf Hall. A 2010 longlist - ‘The Booker Dozen' - will be announced in July 2010, followed by the shortlist of six books in September. The 2010 winner will be announced on October 12.

Nobel Prize in Literature
Stockholm, Sweden

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually since 1901 to an author from any country who has, in the words of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Writers are honored for the whole of their work rather than a single title. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature went to Romanian-born German novelist Herta Müller.

Prix Goncourt
Paris, France

Since 1903 the Prix Goncourt has been given by the Académie Goncourt to recognize excellence and imagination in French prose. One of the most important prizes for French literature, the award has previously gone to authors including Marcel Proust, Jean Fayard, Simone de Beauvoir, Georges Duhamel, Alphonse de Chateaubriant, and Antonine Maillet. French-Senegalese writer Marie Ndiaye won the 2009 award for her novel Trois femmes puissantes.

Premio Miguel de Cervantes
Madrid, Spain

Since 1976, the Premio Miguel de Cervantes has recognized the lifetime achievement of Spanish-language writers. The winner traditionally alternates between Spain and Latin America. The 2009 winner was Mexican novelist, essayist, and poet José Emilio Pacheco; previous winners include Spanish novelist Juan Marse, Peruvian-born Mario Vargas Llosa, and Mexico's Carlos Fuentes.

Man Asian Literary Prize
Hong Kong, China

The Man Asian Prize was established in 2007 to bring Asian authors to worldwide literary attention. The prize is awarded annually to an Asian writer for a novel that has not yet been published in English. The 2009 winner was The Boat to Redemption by Su Tong, the Chinese author behind the Oscar-nominated film Raise the Red Lantern. 2008 winner Ilustrado, by Filipino writer Miguel Syjuco, is due to be published in English in April 2010.

National Book Awards
New York City, USA

The National Book Awards have recognized excellence in American literature since 1950, with awards in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people's literature. The 2009 fiction winner was Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin; Dave Eggers was recipient of the Literarian Award, and Gore Vidal was honored for lifetime achievement.