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Authors' success 'now stems from prizes'

11th May 2010

Literary prizes, not reviews, are now the driving factor in emerging authors' success, one commentator believes.

In a column for the Guardian, author Robert McCrum claimed that the ability of reviews to dictate literary trends and make or break a writer has been reduced in recent years, as they are 'sadly diminished in authority and significance'.

McCrum suggested that awards are now the most coveted goal for writers, as winning one of the more prestigious prizes can catapult an author onto the international stage.

'Literary prizes are not only cultural thermometers, reflecting the zeitgeist, but also have the power to propel unknown writers into the limelight,' the author explained.

He cited Filipino writer Miguel Syjuco as an example of this, as his then-unpublished novel Ilustrado won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008 - leading to the author eventually achieving fame outside his native country.

This year the Man Asian Literary Prize changed its format and will no longer accept books which have not been published in or translated into English.

Professor David Parker, chairman of the award's board, said this is to allow the reading public to enjoy the winning novels without waiting for them to be published.

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