Florida Book Awards: Too much of a good thing?
Stop the presses! The fifth annual Florida Book Awards were announced yesterday, proving, in the words of director Wayne Wiegand, “The culture of books in the Sunshine State continues to prosper!” Or…that the FBA is like a T-ball tourney where every team wins a trophy.
Not to rain on the celebration of those lucky writers who won, aaaaannnnddd not to mock (at least not too much) the value of state-level cultural prizes in cultivating and promoting things like art and literature, but sheesh: Eight categories, with up to five winners each, plus 14 regional gold medals, sometimes with multiple winners?
Talk about award inflation. If I had published a book in Florida in 2010 and I didn’t win something, I think I’d be looking for a rope and a tree. Just kidding, just KIDDING. But seriously, folks, how many plaques can you hand out at one go without devaluing the whole darned concept of awards in general and your prize in particular?
What is this, kindergartern? A gold star for every kid who made an attempt at drawing a cow?
It’s not enough that each of eight categories has a gold medalist, a silver medalist and up to three bronze medalists. No, it’s the regional medals that boggle the mind.
What? You mean there’s a medal for Miami and Coral Gables? Lake Worth and West Palm Beach and Wellington? How about including a prize for Freelance Book Reviewers Who Live on Terramar Street in Fort Lauderdale? Then I would have won an award, too. (Maybe).
Okay, that’s enough carping and scoffery. I recognize some of the names, and there are decent writers here, including crime novelist/travel writer Randy Wayne White, legal thriller master James Grippando, comic novelist T.M. Shine, young-adult novelist Christina Diaz Gonzalez, and crime-novelist-turned-children’s writer-turned-Discovery Channel tycoon Brad Meltzer.
I have to wonder, though, about the missing writers, though, like James W. Hall, whose thriller Silencer, received good reviews (as his work always does). Or Susanna Daniel, whose Miami-set debut novel Stilstiville is a lovely drama about an ordinary family. Or the many others I can’t think of right this second.
But to be fair: I’m sure the many, many, many other winners who receive something from the FBA are crackerjack storytellers, too.
The complete list:
Gold: Jan Godown Annino, She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader (National Geographic Society)
Silver: Mary GrandPre and Jack Prelutsky, Camille Saint-Saens’s The Carnival of the Animals (Alfred P. Knopf)
Bronze: Henry Cole, A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home (Katherine Tegen Books)
Bronze: Brad Meltzer, Heroes for my Son (Harper Collins)
Bronze: Harvey E. Oyer III, The Last Egret: The Adventures of Charlie Pierce (Middle River Press)
Gold: Margaret Ross Tolbert, AQUIFERious (Fidelity Press)
Silver: Julian M. Pleasants and Harry A. Kersey, Seminole Voices: Reflections on their Changing Society (University of Nebraska Press)
Bronze: Lu Vickers, Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland (University Press of Florida)
Bronze: Anna Lillios, Crossing the Creek (University Press of Florida)
Bronze: Randy Wayne White and Carlene Fredericka Brennen, Randy Wayne White’s Ultimate Tarpon Book (University Press of Florida)
Gold: Mark Mustian, The Gendarme (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
Silver: Patricia Engel, Vida (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic, Inc.)
Bronze: T.M. Shine, Nothing Happens Until it Happens to You (Crown Publishing Group)
Bronze: Mary Jane Ryals, Cookie and Me (Kitsune Books)
Gold: Carol Frost, Honeycomb (Northwestern University Press)
Silver: Lola Haskins, Still, the Mountain (Paper Kite Press)
Bronze: Kelle Groom, Five Kingdoms (Anhinga Press)
Gold: William Culyer Hall, The Trouble With Panthers (Florida Historical Society Press)
Silver: Randy Wayne White, Deep Shadow (GP Putnam’s Sons)
Bronze: Joyce Elson Moore, The Tapestry Shop (Five Star/Gale/Cengage)
Bronze: Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us (Broadway Books)
Bronze: James Grippando, Money to Burn (Harper)
Gold: Jason Steuber, Laura K. Nemmers and Tracy E. Pfaff, editors, Samuel P. Harn of Art at Twenty Years: The Collection Catalogue (University Press of Florida)
Silver: Margaret Ross Tolbert, AQUIFERious (Fidelity Press)
Gold: Christina Diaz Gonzalez, The Red Umbrella (Alfred A. Knopf)
Gold: Jose Alvarez, Los Alamos del Parque (Editoral Voces de Hoy)
Winners by Location
Cape Coral/Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island area
Randy Wayne White and Carlene Fredericka Brennen
Cocoa Beach/Merritt Island area
William Culyer Hall
Ft. Lauderdale area
Margaret Ross Tolbert
Joyce Elson Moore
Lake Worth/Lantana area
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
New Smyrna Beach
Orlando/Winter Park area
Jan Godown Annino
Mary Jane Ryals
West Palm Beach
Harvey E. Oyer III
The eight Gold Medal Winners will be recognized on March 23 at the Historical and Cultural Awards Ceremony sponsored by the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs at the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee. All award recipients will be recognized at the Florida Library Association Conference Banquet on May 5 in Orlando. For information about the banquet, contact Sharon Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congrats to all the winners. Just think how great you’ll feel if and when you take home a prize that really means something!