The moment that stands out to me as The Most Memorable Literary Moment of 2012 was the lack of a Pulitzer Prize being awarded for Fiction. The last time it happened was 1977, and no one even remembers the nominees from that year (the fiction jury recommended Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It, but the board did not give the award). There have been other years when no award was given (ten others, to be exact: 1917, 1920, 1941, 1946, 1954, 1957, 1964, 1971, 1974, and 1977), but, not having been around for any of the other No Award announcements, this one came as a bit of a shock.
They say the jury was split, and that’s understandable when you’ve got Train Dreams, Swamplandia!, and The Pale King up for the title. But to me, rather than saying, “They were all just so good!” not choosing a winner felt more like Pulitzer-speak for, “Meh.” While I have no aspirations to ever win a Pulitzer for myself, I do enjoy reading the works that have earned such an honor, if only for a reference of what the literary world think of as good (as sometimes my own opinions are misaligned with the world at large). How am I supposed to know what to read next?
Apparently, for 2012 at least, I shall have to read all three and decide for myself which book gets top honors, or whether I agree with their decision.