Monday, April 23, 2012

The Pulitzer Perplex

Recently the Pulitzer Prize board created quite a stir when it declined to make an award this year in the prestigious Fiction category. The announced reason is that there were three finalists and three jurors, and no majority decision could be reached.  Commentators cite causes from publishing politics to a lamentable decline in the quality of American literature.

On the face of it, this year’s three finalists don’t seem to fit the “great American novel” mold of past winners like John Updike, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer and Richard Russo. “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson is a novella, weighing in at only 128 pages.  David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” has heft (560 pages) but was unfinished at the time of the author’s death in 2008 and completed posthumously by others.  “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell was marketed in some quarters as young adult literature. 

What do you think?  Have you read any of the finalists?  Did you read another book published in 2011 you think should have been considered? Visit the Fiction Room to pick up a ballot or cast your vote in a comment on this blog.  If the Pulitzer folks won’t pick a winner, it is up to the readers of America!

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