Not the Pulitzer Prize
'Fury at no Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,' according to Australian radio. 'Pulitzer Prize board has shirked its duty,' the Telegraph says. The board couldn’t decide between the three finalists put forward by the judges (it's a scrupulous two-tier selection process): Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace and Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. It hardly matters, except to the writer (or his estate) who didn't pick up the $10,000. Maybe they should give the money away in a lottery for impoverished writers toiling in obscurity. But whether it's a publicity stunt, dereliction of duty or simple failure to come to an agreement, is it a sign that standards are slipping? Only perhaps in one sense: it’s an outrageous 35 years since the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last wasn’t awarded. But in the prize's first sixty years it happened 10 times: including in 1917, the year it was created, and no less than three times in the 1970s. Those were the days.