The Costa Prize Draws Sexism Controversy

January 16, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


Controversy is often welcomed by literary prizes, as controversy can draw added exposure and attention to their existence. But did the Costa Prize really want to get into the battle of the sexes?

The Costa Prize is one of the most prestigious book awards in the United Kingdom. It recognizes some of the most acclaimed books from the UK and Ireland and the winner in each category is awarded £5,000. Then one of the five winning books is selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year, and the winner receives an additional £30,000.

But this year, the book award is drawing some controversy with their first ever all female shortlist. Many argue that this is hardly a big deal considering women write and buy significantly more books than their male counterparts.  Furthermore, when notable male authors are left out from these awards, it often makes the news. But when it comes to outstanding female authors, their lack of nominations is rarely discussed on the news. So this certainly makes the all-female shortlist a topic of debate.

Danuta Kean, a books editor for Mslexia magazine recently said, “We’ve had the myth that women can only write about the domestic, and that men write about the universal, busted for some time, yet it persists in publishing,” 

In some cases, notable female authors even hide behind pseudonyms and initials in order to be taken seriously as authors. Another prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, has been awarded to men 30 times versus the 16 female winners. Although many agree that gender should have little, if anything, to do with literary genius, it seems gender bias often sneaks into these prestigious awards. For more information about the Costa Prize, refer to the website; 



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