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.