Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Ah, the big award for American fiction (oh, and journalism too).  Officially the award goes to the most distinguished fiction by an American author (yes, you must be an American citizen to win), preferably dealing with American life.

That last bit, “dealing with American life,” often serves to limit the prize, in my opinion.  Consequently, many distinguished books by American authors are not really eligible.  Then again, the “preferably” language allows the committee to broaden the scope of the prize.  I don’t think one can say Cormac McCarthy’s The Road fits the typical definition of American life.

Click here to see the (thankfully recently redesigned) official website.

Click here for a list of past winners.

9 thoughts on “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction


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  2. By the way, my picks are
    Winner: Joseph O’Neill: Netherland
    Finalists: Susan Choi: A Person of Interest; Marilynne Robinson: Home

    I did pick The Road the year it won, so I’m a contender!

  3. Trevor: You and I, too our shame as prize watchers, tend to overlook the IMPAC award which consistently produces an interesting winner. They announced their shortlist last week and I’ve actually read almost half of it — Oscar Wao, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Animal’s People. The means I’ve missed on three American titles — The Archivist’s Story, The Indian Clerk and Man Gone Down — have you or any other visitor here an opinion on any. Completing the list are two translations; from the French, Ravel and from the Norwegian The Burnt Out Town of Miracles. Again I would be interested in any opinions.

    Since I liked all three of the books on this list that I have read, I’m certainly going to be investigating the rest — the prize doesn’t get awarded until June. If you set up a comment section, I promise to share thoughts. And I’d sure be interested in opinions on those three American titles since I have missed them all.

  4. I’m going to need help with the IMPAC. I’ve looked into it before only briefly because it seems so after-the-fact. The three books you mentioned were published in 2007 and recognized then and in 2008. That said, I am sure much of this is my own ignorance: I don’t know much about the award. I will put up a page for comments and the like, though. That seems to be one of the best ways to get the information I’m lacking!

    About the other three American titles you mentioned. I had only heard of (or at least, I only remember hearing of) Man Gone Down. It was one of the NY Times five best books of fiction in 2007. I looked into it, picked it up a few times, but I have yet to commit more time to it than that. I’m certainly interested in your comments.

  5. I think the timeliness issue has also been one of the reasons I’ve ignored it — never paid attention until the winner was announced and then said, oh, that book. This is the first year I’ve stumbled across the shortlist and that was quite inadvertent. Incidentally, I think the reason for the delay is that nominations come from public library systems (I now like this prize even more for that reason, which I did not discover until today). I know you have librarian contacts on this blog and perhaps they could tell us more.

    Finally, on the timeliness issue. When I see the three books I like and five I don’t know, I have to conclude that the five I don’t kinow are “new” books to me (which might be quite good) even if they were published a few years ago.

  6. If you do set up a post, in addition to your own recent Wao review, Pechorin’s journal has a very good one up now for Reluctant Fundamentalist and Asylum loved Animal’s People last year. You probably know all that already, so just delete this post.

  7. I’ll make sure to get links to those. I read and enjoyed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but I didn’t read Animal’s People, primarily because of a NY Times review.

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