I’ve never won a prize. At least, I’ve never won an Important Prize, the sort which is presented at a huge dinner where you make an emotional, Kate Winslet-style speech while the audience applaud like mad and then mutter about the low standards of entry this year. The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook devotes twenty-six pages to the available literary prizes, so there’s really no excuse for the gleaming emptiness of my mantelpiece. Picking out a few of the prizes available, I see that I have never won the Runciman Award, the Tir na n-Og Award, the Imison Award, the Authors’ Club Award, the Costa Book Award, the Hawthornden Prize, the Portico Prize, the David Berry Prize, the Whitfield Prize, the John D Criticos Prize, the Nobel Prize, the Bridport Prize, or the Kraszna-Krausz Award. I’ve never even been longlisted for the Le Prince Maurice Prize, which apparently rewards a writer for ‘emotional intelligence’, a quality that many would agree defines my oeuvre.
It’s consoling to discover that it is marginally harder to win a prize for non-fiction than for fiction, that it’s easier to win a prize if you’re from Wales rather than the West Country, and that it’s less shameful to be an English prize-loser than a Irish or