On April 16, 2012, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced that it would award no Pulitzer for fiction in 2012. This was, to say the least, surprising and upsetting to any number of people, prominent among them the three fiction jurors, who’d read over three hundred novels and short-story collections, and finally submitted three finalists, each remarkable (or so we believed) in its own way.
The nominees were David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King,” which was not only unfinished at the time of Wallace’s death but left in disarray, and brilliantly pieced together by Wallace’s editor, Michael Pietsch; Denis Johnson’s grim but transcendent “Train Dreams,” set in the American West at the turn of the nineteenth century; and an accomplished first novel, “Swamplandia!,” about an eccentric Southern family, by the alarmingly young writer Karen Russell.
The fiction jury, which changes yearly, puts forward three books to be voted on by the eighteen voting members of the Pulitzer board, who are primarily journalists and academics, and who serve for three-year terms.
The jury does not designate a winner, or even indicate a favorite. The jury provides the board with three equally ranked options. The members of the board can, if they’re unsatisfied with the three nominees, ask the jury for a fourth possibility. No such call was made.
I was one of the jurors for 2012, and am a novelist. The other jurors were Maureen Corrigan, the book critic on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and a professor of English at Georgetown University, and Susan Larson, the former book editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and host of “The Reading Life” on NPR. (Both Corrigan and Larson have agreed to be portrayed in this article.)
And yet, no prize at all in 2012.
How did that happen?
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/07/letter-from-the-pulitzer-fiction-jury-what-really-happened-this-year.html#ixzz20FFH2Bbi
Thanks to author/music historian/book judge Chris Bourke for bringing this story to my notice.