American authors and publishers like to choose sides. The adversaries are seldom strictly Authors v Publishers – some best-selling novelists often join the publishers’ team, and publishers of new fiction like Farrar, Straus & Giroux line up on the authors’ side. Last May the battleground was drawn again in the national Book Awards (that’s not the old capital-N National Book Awards, or the NEA, but the new capital-T The American Book Awards, or TABA).
In the New York Times, novelist John Irving (The World According to Garp) wondered whether the advantages of book prizes ever compensate for the ill will they generate. I imagine that the ill will exists anyway, but it is made more obvious by the ostentation of the awards.