I read a lot. I have several sources for good books. We are fortunate to have an independent book store here in town and I find quite a few good books while browsing there. They know me and my reading habits so they often recommend books. All the local book clubs post their monthly selections (which the store discounts) and I often find a book among the list. Sometimes I hear about a book on NPR or from the newspapers. I have friends who often tell me about certain books. I have to admit I've been known to buy a book purely because the cover attracted me to it. Often I buy books because of a particular author.
And every year I look forward to the Pulitzer Prize winners. I always read the fiction winner and sometimes I love it and other times I really don't care much about it. But I can always understand how the book came to win the coveted prize.
Imagine my surprise when this year's Pulitzer Prizes were announced. AND THERE WAS NO PULITZER AWARDED FOR FICTION!!! I feel cheated. Shouldn't there always be a winner? Like in the Academy Awards? (Can you imagine if the Academy announced there would be no award for movie of the year?) My surprise morphed into anger. What kind of idiots allowed this to happen?
I heard one of the jurors on NPR's Morning Edition. Juror Susan Larson was also shocked and angry. And so were her two fellow jurors, Maureen Corrigan and Michael Cunningham. Over a period of six months, the jurors read more than three hundred nominated novels and short story collections. After much negotiation in person, through conference calls and emails, the jury submitted three works as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2012. Here they are in no particular order:
A posthumously completed novel about boredom and bureaucracy in our workplace.
Told in the first person, a dysfunctional family in a failing alligator wrestling theme park.
About a day laborer in the "Old West"
As far as I know, no one has any idea why the Pulitzer Board did not award the Pulitzer to one of the three finalists. Were none of them thought to be worthy? Were they dismissing the work of the three jurors? Was it simply that the board members were fiercely divided about their own preference and refused to come to a consensus? The only explanation that has been presented is: the board could not reach a majority vote on any of the novels.
Not since 1977 has there been a year without a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The board's failure to name a winner is not acceptable as far as I am concerned. Especially when there is little reason for the failure. I hope all three books were so vigorously defended that no one would move. But we may never know. And that is a shame.
For my part, dear authors and publishers...I will purchase and read all three of these books. And for my part, a big THANK YOU to Susan Larson, Maureen Corrigan and Michael Cunningham for your diligent work.
And to the mystical body of the Pulitzer Board? A BIG RASPBERRY!!! If you can't do your job, send in replacements.