With this article from Michael Cunningham, Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year, all three jurors for this year's Pulitzer Fiction Prize have now spoken about the decision not to award it to any of the finalists, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell:
My own most dramatic reading experience occurred when, from the third shipment, I pulled Wallace’s “The Pale King.” I confess that I was not a huge fan of his novel “Infinite Jest,” and further confess that I thought, on opening “The Pale King,” that it was a long shot indeed, given that Wallace had not lived to complete it.
I was, as it happened, the first of us to read “The Pale King,” and well before I’d finished it I found myself calling Maureen and Susan and saying, “The first paragraph of the Wallace book is more powerful than any entire book we’ve read so far.” Consider its opening line:
Past the flannel plains and the blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb’s-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscatine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all head gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.Maureen and Susan both started the book, and both agreed. It was a little like having heard a series of chamber pieces, and been pleased by them, until the orchestra started in on Beethoven. Needless to say, “The Pale King” was added to the ongoing list.
As posted previously here are thoughts from the other two jurors:
NPR, Pulitzer Jurors Are Shocked That No Fiction Prize Was Awarded - with audio from juror Susan Larson. (17/4/12)
Juror Maureen Corrigan for The Washington Post, Pulitzer’s no decision on fiction prize exposes flaw in process. (19/4/12)
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