In mid-April, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced, covering photography, journalism, poetry, and non-fiction, but for the first time in 35 years, no award was given to a fiction writer. According to an article by Publishers Weekly, this was the first time the board did not grant an award to a fiction writer since 1977, and only the ninth time this has happened since 1918, when the prize was first awarded.
The article also mentions that the fiction finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Knopf), and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown). Susan Larson, Maureen Corrigan, and Michael Cunningham were the fiction judges.
After researching this a little more, I could find no reason why a fiction award was not given out. Is it some sort of reflection and statement on the state of the American novel and contemporary American fiction? Maybe we’ll never know, but Larson did tell NPR that she and the author jurists were “shocked and angry” that the fiction category was not granted an award.
As for poetry, Tracy K. Smith won for her collection Life on Mars. Smith just turned 40 and currently teaches at Princeton. Her book was published by the well-known indie publisher Graywolf Press.
For a full list of the winners, click here.