For the first time in 35 years, there is no winner in the Fiction category for the Pulitzer Prizes. That despite the fact that three fine books were nominated: Train Dreams, Swamplandia!, and The Pale King.But evidently those three books were not that great. Or at least that's my take-away from the announcement.
The judges are in for a PR-storm of mighty proportions. Even the three jurors who proposed the nominated books seemed mystified by the decision, or lack of decision. Juror Susan Larson, from The Times-Picayune, has said that she was incredibly disappointed that the judges could not come to a consensus for a winner.
She and the other 3 jurors went through 300 books to come up with their shortlist, or as she called it "the most intense book club ever." Larson was not a happy camper this morning on NPR as she said that this was a blow for fiction writers. However, trying to put a good spin on it, Larson said maybe now people will buy all three nominated books.
This isn't the first time that the nominees have been snubbed. In 1977, judges said the nominees just weren't worthy of the prize. Ouch. In 1984, the overall Pulitzer committee reversed the judges' decision and awarded the prize to a different book than the one selected. That must have been nice for the first-choice book.
And in 1941, no prize was awarded, despite the fact that For Whom the Bell Tolls was nominated.
People can be wrong, and we all know that taste is very subjective. One person's Pride and Prejudice is another person's Ulysses. However, I think the lack of an award in Fiction hurts the publishing business at a time when it needs it least. There are too many fabulous writers out there that are not receiving much-deserved recognition.
Speaking of recognition, The Tuscaloosa News received a Pulitzer for its coverage of the tornadoes last year, The Huffington Post took the top prize for its amazing online reporting on soldiers returning from war, and The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., garnered the top award for its coverage of the Penn State scandal. As a former journalist, I love to see news outlets get the attention they deserve for serious reporting. That doesn't come for free, either, Mr. Internet.
For the full list of Pulitzers, click here.