Andrew Sean Greer, the 2017 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, recently mused about literary prizes in an interview by Esquire. He said he doesn’t like any literary prize that feels like competition or that interferes with the community of writers. I admire his sentiments. I loved reading Less, his comic novel about aging writer Arthur Less. I applaud his Pulitzer. But for the rest of us writers, the field of lesser literary awards means so much.
When one’s novels receive numerous outstanding reviews and readers rate them highly on various websites, one is grateful. After all, each positive remark is applause for all the years of dedication we put into each novel. But, when one’s novel is a finalist for a literary award—any literary award—it feels like a standing ovation. Greer said that, before receiving the good word, he had been coaxing a pug into polka-dot bloomers. When I recently opened my emails after spending a month in Africa incommunicado, I was too jet-lagged to realize that my novel Lucía Zárate: The Odyssey of the World’s Smallest Woman had been recognized as a finalist in the 20th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.
Foreword Magazine, Inc., hosts its awards program annually. Finalists represent the best books published in 2017. After more than 2,000 individual titles spread across 65 genres were submitted for consideration, Foreword’s editorial team determined the list of finalists. Winners will be decided by an expert team of booksellers and librarians—representing Foreword’s readership—from across the country.
The following morning, I reread the words of Victoria Sutherland, founder/publisher of Foreword Reviews: “Choosing finalists for the INDIES is always the highlight of our year, but the job is very difficult due to the high quality of submissions.” The great news finally sunk into my travel-weary mind, and I was elated. When the winner is announced on June 15, I’ll have to borrow a pug and squeeze it into some polka dot bloomers for good luck.