I jokingly said on Twitter, "Are they saying it's a three-way tie or that they all suck?" The more I think about it, though, the more I do want to know. Are these three finalists all equally deserving? Are none of them deserving? Was it a hung jury? Is one (or maybe two) of these titles so egregious someone wouldn't budge to ensure there was a winner? As KatieANYC rightly pointed out on Twitter, "By not awarding the fiction prize, the #Pulitzer committee has guaranteed that the absence of one award will overshadow those they granted." Instead of celebrating the excellent contributions to journalism and the arts, we're talking about the perceived shortcomings of all American fiction writers.
I got to thinking--is not awarding a prize good for American fiction? I refuse to believe there are not worthy titles. In fact, I believe that there are far more than three titles worthy of the Pulitzer. I prefer the approach the Man Asian Prize took this year: increasing the number of novels on its shortlist because there were that many who deserved it. Regardless of why the Pulitzer board declined to give an award, today no longer feels like a celebration of American literature, and that makes me sad. Here are the three finalists:
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson(Kindle version)
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Kindle version)
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (Kindle version)
Now tell me: what do you think about not having a winner? Will you be reading the finalists?
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