19 Apr 2012

Much Ado About the Pulitzer

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If you’ve been reading the news these last few days, then you are aware of the brouhaha over the failure to award a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. No one doubts that there must have been at least one worthy novel (we can think of a few), yet the controversy is interesting.

Ann Patchett is upset with the Pulitzer committee and writes, “Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings.”

This is true, and smart women are aware of this. We also know that when a book is honored with a prize (Booker, Pulitzer, National Book Award), this doesn’t necessarily mean that we agree that it was the right choice or that we want to read it. It is just a guidepost indicating what has been recognized and we may want to consider it.

But, the good news is that numerous titles have been floated in the press as potential contenders. This gives us the chance to explore what may not have been on our literary radar. We will definitely look into Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, Russell Banks’ Lost Memory of Skin, and Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. Another well-received 2012 title, The Art of Fielding, is already on our list and will be the subject of a forthcoming blog.

Although Patchett concludes, “The Pulitzer Prize is our best chance as writers and readers and booksellers to celebrate fiction,” a prize isn’t necessarily what creates a buzz about a new book. Fifty Shades of Grey is the hottest (no pun intended) book at the moment, and surely it won’t be a finalist for the Pulitzer.

 

 

written by
Lisa Forman Rosen is an avid reader and facilitator of book clubs in Miami, Florida. She has worked at the University of Miami since 1986, first in the Department of English Composition as a lecturer and now at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as a writer. Lisa created this site to share her love of literature with others and expand the conversation into the virtual world.
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