Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Holy Pulitzer, Batman!

Yesterday was an important day in American letters.  You see, it was the day the Pulitzer Prizes were announced.  For everything except fiction, that is. You know, the division that more readers care about than any other.  No biggie.

What's the deal, Pulitzer Committee People? While the official word is that the committee couldn't reach consensus, the rumors started flying right away yesterday that the committee didn't think any book was worthy of the prize. That's not the kind of elitist publicity anybody wants. (And of course, by "anybody" I mean me...and readers & booksellers who agree with me.)

Seriously, though.  What gives?  I understand that it's hard to reach consensus when three (and I probably ought not to get started on why there were only three titles short listed) books are so vastly different.  But yoo-hoo, Pulitzer Committee People? You're the ones who created the short list to begin with.  The decision was only as difficult as you made it for yourselves. I imagine there's also a lot of pressure to make the "right" decision as literary tastemakers, establishing one book above all others as being worthy of our posterity.

Which, in my view, is all the more reason to actually make a decision.  Nobody else in the real world can get by with just withholding the award when the decision-making process is too preciously difficult.  Why can they?

I don't happen to agree with the three finalists that the committee picked, but that's neither here nor there.  I would have preferred to see Teju Cole's Open City win this prize, as to my mind, it was the finest book "dealing with American life" published last year.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on the omission this year for the fiction prize? What do you wish would have won?


No comments: