Perhaps, in a absence of a "best book" prize , the award committee should simply have published the titles of all the books they believed were "worthy contenders"?
And why not? That would probably have been a fairer & more honest assessment.
To pretend that one writer's contribution is somehow superior to every other writers, simply cannot be true. A bit like comparing apples with oranges & declaring that apples are the better of the two ....:
Prizes, by definition, are reductive (they whittle nominees to lists of finalists and then winners). Art, by its nature, seeks to fathom, and justly render, complexity. Prizes are inherently divisive (they split the exalted from the rest). Art seeks inclusivity; it yearns to connect. As Richard Wilbur has said, “to insist, as all poets do, that all things are related to each other, comparable to each other, is to go toward making an assertion of the unity of all things.”.....
But then, I'm generally skeptical about prizes & awards, anyway ...
I mean, does receiving the best motion picture award actually mean
that that film was the best in any given yeah? Hardly.
Or does receiving the Nobel Peace Prize mean that the recipient contributed most toward a more peaceful world? Of course not. And there have been some quite controversial & dubious "winners" of that honour!
Is the winner of the Miss World contest necessarily the most ravishing woman on the planet? Nah.
Prizes usually tell us more about the preferences & biases of the judges that year, or some underlying agenda of the award.
As for nominating a book (or books) published in the last year .... as books have become so expensive (especially in Oz!) these days I rarely get to read them soon after publication. But I often do appreciate them a bit down the track when they've been pre-loved & are affordable.