The big 3 awards are the Man Booker International Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature.

I can't recall any novel, classified as Science Fiction/Fantasy by author/general public, that has won any of these awards. Are there any?

  • Is there a reason you do not include the Newberry (A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH), Caldecott (Jumanji), or Hans Christian Andersen Award (as an international award for rarely-translated literature, I'm less familiar with the authors/works, but I would be very surprised to find not a single sf work in there - Quentin Blake, who illustrated for Roald Dahl's fantasy work, has won it)? – user1030 May 1 '11 at 23:02
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    @Joe: Children's literature is typically classified separately from SF. Of course, the boundaries are hardly clear. – user56 May 1 '11 at 23:55
  • @Gilles: While I'll admit the boundaries are less clear because more children's literature will drag in the fantastic without becoming fantasy, the examples I gave all land smack in the middle of SF. – user1030 May 2 '11 at 8:13
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    The science fiction writer Michael Shaara won a Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately he won it for a non-sf novel, though his sf was also quite good. – user14111 Jan 19 '15 at 12:17
  • Whaaat? Tolkien did not win a Nobel prize? – bobbyalex Aug 11 '15 at 9:01

That's difficult to answer, because the SF-ness of a work is not an objective criterion. There's the added difficulty that the Nobel prize is usually awarded to an author for the sum of his work, not to a specific work.

Taking having an entry on ISFDB as a criterion, here's a list (not exhaustive, I just tried names that I thought might be considered ISFDB material). They tend not to be published as SF — though some came too early and are now considered classics, and some would probably be published as SF if they weren't from a non-habitually-SF writer. Several are typically classified as magical realism — when supernatural elements are used in a story but play a background, decidedly metaphorical role.

None of the authors in this list are generally considered SF writers, though Michael Chabon comes close.

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  • I think I did not make my question clear enough, I meant science fiction and fantasy. – apoorv020 May 1 '11 at 21:37
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    @apoorv020: I didn't distinguish between the two in my answer. Read “speculative fiction” for SF. – user56 May 1 '11 at 21:39
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    @apoorv020: Sure, go ahead if you find other writers or works that meet my criteria, but please respect the format. – user56 May 2 '11 at 7:05
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    @Billare: Well, The Yiddish Policeman's Union won the Nebula and Hugo, so I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue it's not sf. – user1030 May 2 '11 at 8:15
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    @apoorv: Atwood denies writing science fiction because her definition of science fiction requires the work not be set on Earth. (I think it's a poor definition.) But she does openly refer to her work as "sf" or "speculative fiction". – user1030 May 2 '11 at 8:19

The Road by Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize a few years back.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is not awarded on the basis of a single novel but is given to an author for their contribution to the world of literature. A quick scan of the list of Laureates suggests Doris Lessing who wrote the Canopus in Argos sequence which is most definitely Science Fiction.

The Booker prize list didn't suggest any Science Fiction although The Famished Road by Ben Okri has some fantastic elements (the Spirit World is perceived by the main character).

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  • Doris Lessing's genre according to wikipedia:Modernism, Postmodernism, Sufism, Socialism, Feminism, Science fiction. But point about the road well taken. – apoorv020 May 1 '11 at 19:24

Harry Martinson was a Nobel laureate. One of his best-known works is Aniara, about a starship. Strictly speaking, Aniara isn't a novel, it's an epic poem. But it's book-length, and it's science-fictional enough that we carried it (along with many of the titles in Gilles' awesome list) at an SF bookstore I managed in the late 80s.

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    Also, the wiki page says that Aniara is one of his most famous works (unlike other situations where the sff works were not one of the author's primary works.) – apoorv020 Jun 21 '11 at 9:36

I'd say Marquez too. Magical realism is basically just fantasy marketed towards readers who don't generally consider themselves people who "read fantasy".

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  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – Rogue Jedi Sep 30 '15 at 1:20

Add Winston Churchill to the list -- Nobel Prize for literature, and he wrote some alternate history SF ("What If Lee Had Not Won The Battle Of Gettysburg").

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Hermann Hesse, Nobel 1946 for The Glass Bead Game aka Magister Ludi -- a work set about four centuries from now, centering on a game of intellect. Among the people it has inspired are the architect Christopher Alexander, whose Pattern Language is arguably a form of the Game, and the "father" of genetic algorithms, John Holland.

Speculative fiction should be proud to claim it.

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  • And if you ask me, Banks' The Player of Games owes a lot to it (without in any way wishing to detract from what I personally find the best of all his Culture novels). I'm not, however, aware that Banks expressed any views on the comparison. – MadHatter Oct 22 '18 at 6:40

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