For people who do not follow the politics of literary awards, this might seem curious. They assume that winning such a prestigious national award would be the crowning achievement of a much-laurelled book. And The Sympathizer, which explores the Vietnam war and its legacy from the perspective of a Vietnamese spy, did appear on many newspaper book reviews’ best-of lists. It won or was shortlisted for a few other prizes. But other than that, it was overlooked.
But book awards, in America at least, are not like the Oscars. Awards are not cumulative, and in the case of something like the Pulitzers, the jurors often have another goal in mind: sales. They know that the Pulitzer stamp can sell a book. MORE