Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Year Without a Pulitzer

Ann Patchett has a great and insightful op-ed piece in the NY Times today.

This year, the Pulitzer Prize Board decided not to bestow an award for literature. While it's far from the first time this has happened, Patchett lays out a compelling case for why this is a bad decision.

She wraps up as follows:

Let me underscore the obvious here: Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.

Unfortunately, the world of literature lacks the scandal, hype and pretty dresses that draw people to the Academy Awards, which, by the way, is not an institution devoted to choosing the best movie every year as much as it is an institution designed to get people excited about going to the movies. The Pulitzer Prize is our best chance as writers and readers and booksellers to celebrate fiction. This was the year we all lost.
She's right. And this in addition to the fact that there were highly qualified entries being considered. Literature (not to mention struggling book stores) need the excitement this award creates, and this year, we just don't get it. It's a shame.

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