There are so many literary prizes these days that they could be regarded as an industry in their own right – but they’re needed to change the status quo

How many literary prizes are there in the UK today? To Wikipedia’s tally of around 70, I can immediately add half a dozen more – and still they come. It doesn’t seem too much of an exaggeration to see them as an industry in their own right, involving flotillas of administrators, squads of judges and hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in prize money.

The value of this industry has long been hotly debated, with some writers going so far as to maintain that having so many prizes deforms the literary culture. The Man Booker prize, in particular, has been charged with dictating the sort of novel that is thought to be worth publishing and promoting, thereby influencing the books authors have felt compelled to write over the last 50 years.