2011's Award-Winning Books

First Posted: 05/12/2011 13:23 Updated: 12/12/2011 17:17

A 'prize winner' sticker is a powerful thing in the book world, which is why literary awards - particularly the big ones - are important for far more than giving authors an excuse to get their party clothes on and slap one another on the back.

From the Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award right the way up to the Nobel Prize for Literature, accolades across fiction, non-fiction and poetry can transform the fortunes of the writers involved and draw attention to classics that would otherwise have floated adrift in the sea of new titles published each year.

They can also be a cause of controversy. This year saw mixed fortunes for Alan Hollinghurst and his much-admired novel The Stranger's Child which was excluded from a Booker shortlist that insisted on favouring 'readability'. Hollinghurst was then named Author of the Year at the British Book Awards - ironically a far more 'populist' affair that also rewarded Dawn French for her first foray into fiction.

Elsewhere this year Derek Walcott moved on from the scandal of withdrawing from 2009's Oxford professor of poetry election to claim the TS Eliot prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction found its youngest ever winner in the form of Téa Obreht.

Click on the slideshow below to see a round up of the year's major prize winning books.

The Hare with Amber Eyes - Ondaatje Prize
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Originally published in 2010, Edmund de Waal's memoir tells the story of his family, the Ephrussi, who were once an extremely wealthy and powerful European Jewish banking and oil dynasty - until they were 'Aryanized' by the Nazis in 1938.

Using the story of a family heirloom that miraculously survived the war, de Waal traces five generations of his elders to evoke the rise of anti-Semitism and the Ephrussis' varying fortunes between 1871 and 2009. The judges praised it as a 'haunting evocation' of history that 'never slips in sentimentalism' and a 'stunning piece of writing' full of 'economy and grace'.

De Wall - who is also a extremely accomplished ceramicist whose porcelain is shown in museums across the world - picked up the Costa Prize (Biographies - pictured) and Galaxy National Book Award in the year it was published, before claiming this year's Ondaatje (and £10,000 in prize money) in May.