Prized writing?

Looking for an entrée to the cut-throat world of publishing? Why not buy yourself some literary acclaim?

America's National Book Foundation will present its annual National Book Awards in downtown Manhattan Wednesday night, at a gala event in the glittering, Greek-revival setting of Cipriani Wall Street. The ceremony's organisers labour mightily to bring glamour to a notoriously dowdy industry, and no doubt the evening will be thrilling for both nominees and winners.

Literary awards are more than just ego boosts these days. As the critic James Wood observed a few years back, "prizes are the new reviews," the means by which many people now decide which books to buy, when they bother to buy books at all.

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