Nobel Prize for Literature
Established under the will of Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel and awarded annually for an outstanding body of work in the field of literature. The Nobel Prize for Literature is a "lifetime achievement award" and is never awarded for a single book, although you will see that some very good references get confused about this (such as the famous ecyclopedia which erroneously states online that Ernest Hemingway won the award for The Old Man and the Sea.) Save for the critical approval of posterity, the Nobel Prize is the most distinguished award bestowed upon a modern author of any nationality. However, as with any long-running award, it has its quirks. Literature Nobel laureates Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell, for example, were great men in their fields, but their field wasn't really literature. And most modern scholars question the omission of James Joyce and Marcel Proust from the list. Despite these foibles it is not an award to be shunned, unless you're Jean-Paul Sartre, who refused the award in 1964.