When writer Shinya Tanaka won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize last month, he said, "I deserve this," paraphrasing U.S. actress Shirley MacLaine at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1984.

His cynicism about selection committee members and Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara also drew attention from the media and public, probably more so than his work, and online videos of the news conference went viral.

But even without making a stir, winners of the Akutagawa Prize and the Naoki Prize, two major literary awards, fall under the spotlight twice a year when the awards ceremony is televised nationwide.