Of the authors who have books nominated for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe award for Best Novel, only one’s American: Ace Atkins. Mo Hayder is British, Keigo Higashino is Japanese, Anne Holt is Norwegian, and Philip Kerr is British. Hmm. It got me thinking – is this an unusual year, or is there usually such an international flavor?
Let’s check it out. I visited the MWA Edgar website, which has an awesome, searchable database. Seriously, check it out here. Want to know if your favorite author ever won an Edgar? Want to know who won every year for the last ten years so you can make a library run? Whatever you want to know, it’s there.
From 2003 to 2011, there were 48 books and 44 authors nominated for a Best Novel Edgar. Michael Connelly, Ken Bruen, Laura Lippman and John Hart were all nominated twice – and John Hart won in both years! Connelly, Bruen, and Lippman did not receive the award either time they were nominated in the last ten years.
Of the 44 nominees, 29 (or 2/3) are American. The other 1/3 are not. Of these: 4 are British. 4 are Irish. 3 are Scottish. 1 is Japanese. 1 is Norwegian. 1 is Swedish. 1 is South African.
So – yay! I’m not nuts. This year’s MWA nominees for Best Novel are definitely skewed towards the international.
But how does a book get nominated, anyway? The work must be submitted for consideration, and to be considered, it must have been published in the United States for the first time during the year previous (so 2012 submissions must have been published in 2011). Publishers must have met the MWA criteria. For Best Novel, publication must have been in hard copy. Publishers are expected to submit the works, but authors or agents may do so.
And from here, it’s a big blur. The MWA website is weak in this regard, it appears that either how the works are judged is considered common knowledge or it is considered proprietary. I do know that many people read the submissions and there is an ongoing process to winnow it down to the top six and then the ultimate winner. There’s no nomination committee and then voting – it’s all done by the same people.
Here’s a blog post from last year from Bruce Hollingdrake at The Bookshop Blog. It’s pretty helpful.
I have had the same reaction to reading the MWA’s Best Novel nominees…I keep wondering how these particular books got nominated, because they don’t seem to be great (with the exception, so far, of Gone by Mo Hayder). I look forward to reading the five nominees for Best First Novel…just as soon as I finish with the Best Novel category.