This year, nobody was good enough.
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the most prestigious awards in American literature. Previous fiction winners have included Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jennifer Egan and Philip Roth. Publishers submit works according to published guidelines; winners for the literary categories must be U.S. citizens, except for the History category, where the subject of the book must be U.S. History.
The jurors for this year’s Fiction prize were Susan Larson, the former book editor of The Times-Picayune, Maureen Corrigan, book critic for Fresh Air on NPR, and the novelist Michael Cunningham. They submitted three unranked finalists to the Board: David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King”, Karen Russell’s “Swamplandia” and Denis Johnson’s “Train Dreams.”
But for the first time since 1977, by failing to come to a majority decision, the Pulitzer Board’s conclusion is that no book is worthy of the prize.
Susan Larson, the chair of the jury, said:
The jury members were all shocked and disappointed and angry at the news, of course. We thought so highly of these three books, we took our responsibilities very seriously, and our decision was unanimous.”