The Un-Pulitzer Prize: Big Deal or Not?

We’ll never know why the Pulitzer Prize board decided not to recognize the fiction category this year, spurning the three novelists nominated.  What we do know is that sales of these books have increased regardless. Prize or not, people are reading the titles.  Imagine if there were more finalists than three!   Nominations create interest, whether in movies, plays or books.

Meanwhile there’s no shortage of titles and other awards, perhaps equally as important.

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the NYC Literary Honors, which will be given to living writers whose work highlights the city.

Towns and cities around the country sponsor literary festivals and community reading initiatives, where an entire town reads a book and meets in small discussion groups.  Book clubs are flourishing. Most of my fiction reading comes from recommendations by friends in book clubs. Though not for me, I know people in several book clubs at once, reading several titles at a time. New York City’s “Big City Book Club” is reading Jack Finney’s novel, Time and Again. Discussions open for all 9 million New Yorkers are held online. 

I borrowed this year’s Pulitzer flunkies from the library:  Train Dreams by Denis Johnson,  Swamplandia! by Karen Russell  and The Pale King by  the late David Foster Wallace.

I’ll let you know if  any  deserved a Pulitzer.

Award winning but not Pulitzer winning novelist Ann Patchett chided the Pulitzer board for not selecting a fiction finalist.  As a writer, reader and independent bookstore owner, she felt the decision hurt all three.  “If I feel disappointment as a writer and indignation as a reader, I manage to get all the way to rage as a bookseller.”

She champions the importance of fiction: “(Fiction)…is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking…”

I read fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes two or three books at once. I’ve written a bit about books I  read this past year, though can’t say there was one that stands out above the rest. What keeps me turning the page, keeps me awake at night, is my favorite for the moment.  Until the next book.

I’m always looking for new titles. Suggestions?


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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8 Responses to The Un-Pulitzer Prize: Big Deal or Not?

  1. Thanks for the insight into the Pulitzer. Also thanks for the choices to read.


  2. Northern Narratives says:

    When they do not award a prize, I think it is very bizarre. I read more nonfiction than fiction. Have you read My Life in France by Julia Child? It is her autobiography. I recommend it. 🙂 Judy


    • Hi,
      Will check it out. Loved the portrayal by Meryl Streep in the movie. I’m thinking of creating an anthology of mostly my writing, centered around themes from the year, and asking a few blog friends to submit a post. Would you be interested in submitting photos? More details via email– send me yours-


  3. I am genuinely surprised they did not award a fiction winner. Many times, fiction is a reflection of reality. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these novels.


  4. Carol says:

    Are you a lesbian? An atheist? A Bulgarian millionaire? A social worker? A blue-collar family man? A narrow-minded Italian-American? If you enjoy imagining a life other than your own, You will enjoy Rose’s Will by Denise DeSio.


  5. Previse says:

    Great commentary and reading recommendations! Thank you for sharing…


  6. Pingback: Botched Hair Dying: Kool-Aid, Boxes, & Corrections | cyclingrandma

  7. Pingback: Pet Peeves: Doctor Waiting Rooms & Unisex Bathrooms | cyclingrandma

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