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Author Topic: no fiction Pulitzer in 2012  (Read 22249 times)
yellowtractor
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« on: April 16, 2012, 4:49:20 PM »

To accompany LarryC's thread on adults reading adult literature:  what happens when adults can't even agree what adult literature one should read?  The fiction committee for this year's Pulitzer refused to name a winner, in spite of one of the better finalist lists in recent years:  Denis Johnson for Train Dreams, Karen Russell for Swamplandia!, and David Foster Wallace for The Pale King.

Any thoughts?
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notaprof
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 4:59:24 PM »

The selection committee must be made up of undergrads who didn't want to do the reading!

Or the Pulitzer's endowment just doesn't go as far as it used to go and they ran out of funds before awards time?
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 5:05:25 PM »

This has happened before.  From what I understand, no prize is awarded when none of the nominees receives a majority of the votes. 

But I wonder about that.  Why don't they simply appoint an odd number of judges so that such an outcome is impossible?
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 5:09:13 PM »

I'm fascinated by this.  Yes, it has happened before (most recently in 1977, I believe?).

It's not like they were faced with the sort of "who? what??" moment that has afflicted other Pulitzer and NBA fiction panels in recent years.  There would have been substantial support, I think, out in FictionVille, for any of these three.  All three could be construed as worthy, in different ways.
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 6:23:13 PM »

I highly suspect there are political machinations brought to bear as well. The prizes are often "statements" far beyond the "worthiness" of the work.
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 7:21:09 PM »

I assume the winner of the Pulitzer gets a sizable bump in readership. To me, the biggest disappointment here is that that bump won't happen.

The only one of the three I've read is Swamplandia!

As far as political machinations, I can't help but wonder what role Wallace's suicide played in the voting. Forgive me if it's crass to even wonder about this.
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rebelgirl
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 9:29:17 PM »

Just have to share this, from today's Borowitz Report [http://www.borowitzreport.com/]:


Fox News Wins Pulitzer for Fiction

Prize Committee Praises Imagination, Inventiveness


NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – In an unprecedented honor for the Rupert Murdoch-led network, the Fox News Channel today won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
 
In its official statement, the prize committee praised Fox for exhibiting “an imagination and inventiveness that rival the best of Charles Dickens and J.R.R. Tolkien.”
 
In hailing Fox, the committee singled out the network’s fourteen-part story about President Obama’s birth in a mud-hut in Kenya.
 
For Mr. Murdoch, the stunning Pulitzer Prize win was a rare bright spot in what he acknowledged had been “a difficult year.”
 
“When I first heard about the Pulitzer committee’s decision, I didn’t believe it,” he said.  “I had to listen to their voicemails to hear it for myself.” 
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 9:42:03 PM »

I must admit, I was hoping for a "statement" in DFW's favor. I am reading PK right now, and while I'm not sure exactly what I think in relation to what I think of his other works, I would have liked a win for him.

Or for Fox (RG, I love Borowitz!)
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rebelgirl
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 11:25:17 PM »

I must admit, I was hoping for a "statement" in DFW's favor. I am reading PK right now, and while I'm not sure exactly what I think in relation to what I think of his other works, I would have liked a win for him.

Or for Fox (RG, I love Borowitz!)

:)  happy to put a smile on a fellow forumite's face!

I have Train Dreams in my to-read pile . . . will have to get Pale Knight and Swamplandia!.
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mickeymantle
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2012, 7:31:14 PM »


I cannot understand for the life of me why The Art of Fielding and The Marriage Plot did not make the list.  Wallace's unfinished book constituted an interesting effort, but proved no masterpiece.  Perhaps the committee felt guilty about overlooking his previous magnum opus, Infinite Jest.  Yet who knows?  How many prize winners do we remember after twenty or thirty years?
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2012, 8:50:59 PM »

The New York Times notices:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/books/publishing-industry-is-angry-that-pulitzers-snubbed-fiction.html
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luder
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 9:25:27 AM »

I'm rather pleased. Swamplandia!, by almost any measure, is a bad book. Not that I've read it. The author is lovely, though (at least in her publicity shots). Some people, I realize, think Dennis Johnson is the cat's meow. Not I. Not that I matter, of course. In addition, Johnson's "book" was published ten years ago in the Paris Review and then in one of those Best American collections. Even if they were otherwise inclined to give him the prize, the members of the Pulitzer board might quite rightly have thought that giving it to him this year was not entirely legitimate. DFW. What can I say? Never read him. His acolytes are annoying. Slate posts too many articles about him.

Somebody mentioned The Art of Fielding. Really? I suppose if it had won it would have been in keeping with the awarding of the prize a couple of years ago to Tinkers. For the rest, there's a wonderful and even slightly generous review of The Art of Fielding in this month's Atlantic. I won't say who it's by, or three quarters of you will dismiss it out of hand, and I won't link to it, either (sorry, too lazy).
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 10:09:41 AM »

Swamplandia!, by almost any measure, is a bad book. Not that I've read it.

Well, aren't you clever?

The Atlantic review is by B. R. Myers. Perhaps I'll read it after I finish reading the novel, which I'd like to do soon.
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larryc
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2012, 3:31:46 PM »

Perhaps someone should have nominated The Hunger Games?

I heard an NPR interview with one of the members of the sub-committee that read a couple of hundred (!) novels to choose the finalists for the committee to consider. Man was she pissed.
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2012, 3:54:49 PM »

Perhaps someone should have nominated The Hunger Games?

I heard an NPR interview with one of the members of the sub-committee that read a couple of hundred (!) novels to choose the finalists for the committee to consider. Man was she pissed.

She was pretty ticked off in the NYT article, too.

As for The Hunger Games, it was not published within the appropriate calendar window.  Beyond that nicety, much has to do with marketing (YA vs. "adult").  Which has been discussed exhaustively elsewhere.

I'm rather pleased. Swamplandia!, by almost any measure, is a bad book. Not that I've read it. The author is lovely, though (at least in her publicity shots). Some people, I realize, think Dennis Johnson is the cat's meow. Not I. Not that I matter, of course. In addition, Johnson's "book" was published ten years ago in the Paris Review and then in one of those Best American collections. Even if they were otherwise inclined to give him the prize, the members of the Pulitzer board might quite rightly have thought that giving it to him this year was not entirely legitimate. DFW. What can I say? Never read him. His acolytes are annoying. Slate posts too many articles about him.

Most of the threads under "We Speak Volumes" are intended for people who read books, Luder.  If you do not read books, please go away.
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It is, of course, possible that what I remember as terror was only a love too great to bear.
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