Book Awards and Controversy

Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week, but no award was given for fiction, for the first time since 1977. No explanation was offered beyond the statement, “The three books were fully considered, but in the end, none mustered the mandatory majority for granting a prize, so no prize was awarded.”

 The lack of award has generated a lot of controversy, especially as many people will assume the Pulitzer board decided that none of the books deserved the prize, rather than that they were deadlocked. A three member jury, headed this year by Susan Larson, read 300 novels and presented the board with three finalists. On National Public Radio, Susan said “We were all shocked. We were angry, and we were very disappointed. This is a lot of work.” She also stated that “I think we all would have been happy if any one of these books had been selected.”

Read one or more of the finalists, and decide for yourself if the judges were stumped or disappointed. The three finalists are:

Pale King, by David Foster Wallace

Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell

Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded to: A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

Other 2012 Pulitzer Awards:

History Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable

Biography George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis

Poetry Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith

General Nonfiction The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt

In other award news, finalists for two other prizes have been announced. The Orange Prize, which started in 1996, is dedicated to excellence in fiction  written in English by women. The 2011 Orange prize was awarded to

The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obrecht.

The 2012 Orange Prize short list is:

Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan.

The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright.

Painter of Silence, by Georgina Harding. This book will be published in the United States in September, 2012.

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller.

Foreign Bodies, by Cynthia Ozick.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett.

Nominees for the Hugo awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy are:

Best Novel

Among Others by Jo Walton
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
Deadline by Mira Grant
Embassytown by China Miéville
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Best Novella

“Countdown” by Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2011)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s June 2011)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s September/October 2011)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
“Silently and Very Fast” by Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Best Novelette

“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog December 2011)
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)

Best Short Story

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011)
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011)
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011)
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (


One thought on “Book Awards and Controversy

  1. Frankly, I’ve never been impressed with the Pulitzer commitee’s choices for fiction. I did read A Visit From the Goon Squad and didn’t think it was worth an award. I also read The Shipping News which was also a Pulitzer winner and didn’t enjoy it at all.

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