I just noticed that the Association for Mormon Letters has posted its awards for 2004. The Pictograph Murders by P.G. Karamesines won in the novel category. “Saints and Soldiers” by Ryan Little and Adam Abel won for film.
The AML awards are often somewhat idiosyncratic because each award is judged by an individual (rather than a committee) and because the ebb and flow of the (relatively small) Mormon market leads to up and down years in various categories.
Some of the surprises this year:
Five books in the young people’s literature categories received awards. It’s a very important market for LDS writers, one in which some writers have even had national success, but I sometimes wonder if the use of honorable mentions is just a way for the judges to not make hard decisions. Of course, I haven’t read any of the works given awards so I reserve the right to retract this comment.
A pleasant surprise was the special, and well-deserved award in Mormon literary studies given to the J. Willard Marriot Library for its digitized collection of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. I have taken a quick look at the collection and look forward to digging into it over the next few months in search of neglected gems in short story, poetry and criticism.
And as Andrew Hall noted on the AML List, the most suprising award this year was the one given to Meridian Magazine for criticism. I admit that my initial reaction was one of disbelief. Meridian produces a fairly steady string of book reviews, but they are generally limited to romance and thriller novels published by Covenant Communications (with a some young adult fiction tossed in). These are important categories for the Mormon market, but the reviews aren’t the most rigorous pieces of criticism you’ll read.
However, upon further refelction, I realized this: Meridian has run some excellent film criticism and reviews. Indeed, the discussion begun by Kieth Merrill [which can most easily be accessed at this AMV post on Mormon film is one of the most significant (and perhaps widely-read) pieces of Mormon criticism to appear so far.