16 April 2013

Pulitzer 2013, or Thank Goodness They Picked a Winner This Time

Pulitzer winner, fiction 
The moments during the Pulitzer announcements were fun today--and they were the last peaceful moments before I heard about the bombs in Boston. My coworkers, Caitlin & Nieves, and I had some fun wagers going over which fiction titles we thought might make the cut. Not only that, but we were preparing unpleasant voodoo doll torture to the Pulitzer committee if they decided to pull a stunt like last year and not award any prize for fiction.

I walked around the store prior to the announcements, considering some of my favorite fiction from last year and reviewing my store's First Edition Club picks. My list's frontrunner, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk didn't even make the shortlist, much to my surprise.  It was both a personal and odds-on favorite for the award considering its award history.  And of course I gave a nod to Louise Erdrich's The Round House for its previous showing in award season.  Again, not a finalist.

Pulitzer finalist
I was quite surprised at the announcement of The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson -- not, I rush to qualify, because I didn't think the content deserved it, but because it doesn't adhere to that last little bit of Pulitzer-speak, "preferably dealing with American life." I actually had read it back in the fall of 2011 (mini review here) and  I had considered putting it and the other finalist, Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (my mini review of it is here), which I eliminated from my laminated list for being a story collection. Shows what I know.  I happen to admire both of these books when I read them, and they were both selections for our First Editions Club, so I imagine that our members are pretty happy about the news today. And just for the record, I happen to think that the hardcover design of The Orphan Master's Son is infinitely superior to the paperback's design.

Pulitzer finalist
Kudos go to my coworker Caitlin, who was the only staff member in our store who put The Snow Child on her list.  Plus, isn't that a fun cover?  I really am drawn to it. Still haven't read that one yet, but I've got a signed ARC around somewhere that I should track down...

What about y'all?  Were you surprised with the results or were you expecting those titles to win all along? What books were you hoping would win that didn't?


  1. I think I would have lost my mind if they pulled that NO AWARD stunt again ;) I was glad to see Adam Johnson's book win. I read and really enjoyed it.

    I haven't read the Englander or The Snow Child. I hope to get to those soon!

    I thought that The Yellow Birds would take the fiction prize this year. Mostly because I didn't like the book all that much, lol.

    1. Oh, I so agree! Readers and bookish folks would have foamed at the mouth and gone for the throat if it were like last year.

      Oddly enough, Yellow Birds didn't make my short list, but that's because I forgot about it. It wasn't the book for me, but others sure liked it.

  2. I didn't like The Orphan Master's son as much as I had expected. In fact, I found it a slog. I did finish, but only just. But it was well-written, and I guess there are worse books that could have won the prize.

    I didn't know that the Englander book was a finalist, I liked it mostly - but I'm not a short-story reader. I LOVED The Snow Child, but a Pullitzer prize for that one? I'm not sure.

  3. I have to admit that I have not done very well with reading the Pulitzer nominees this year. But there is a part of me that feel as if I know them anyway because they get so much coverage!

  4. The Pulitzers were off my radar until this week's announcement. That said, I'm glad Orphan Master's Son took it, because I think that book is an amazing achievement. I loved the Englander too and would have been equally happy to see it win. However, I didn't love Snow Child. By the time I finished it, I no longer liked the cover; it reminded me of South Park. :)


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