Pulitzer Prediction 2009

Who will be the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction?


March 14, 2009

The Pulitzer Prize for 2009 will be announced on April 20, 2009 at 3:00PM, and once again the question is who will win for fiction? Last year, a research scientist and Modern Firsts/Pulitzer Prize Award Books collector conducted a regression analysis and built a model that produced a list of the 10 books that were most likely to win the Pulitzer Prize for 2008. The model performed well - the third book on the list was the winner, and the fifth book on the list was a finalist. So we are running the list again this year.

The list is based upon analysis that ultimately incorporates over 30 independent or predictor variables such as newspaper notable and best book lists; other awards and award nominations for 2008; and authors previously nominated for the Pulitzer and other awards.

The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Final Prediction List


What follows is the Pulitzer Prize Final Prediction List, comprising 15 books that, according to our regression model, are most likely to win the Pulitzer Prize for 2009. Before listing these books, however, please keep in mind that this is in no way intended to suggest that one of the listed books will absolutely win the Pulitzer. There is still much that cannot be predicted about winning the Pulitzer Prize and lots of other factors that cannot be quantified as variables that certainly contribute to the award process. Readers should only consider this list for what it is intended to be, a fun exercise in second guessing (or pre-guessing) the Pulitzer Prize judges! Be forewarned, this model would certainly not have predicted the award to Jhumpa Lahiri for Interpreter of Maladies in 2000 or Richard Russo for Empire Falls in 2002. Also, because some authors are perennial award winners and nominees, their books are disproportionately likely to end up at the top in calculations such as this, so any book by Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates, for example, will likely wind up in the top 15.

Those caveats aside, the top 15 books written in 2008 that would be predicted to win by this model are (in order of probability):

1.Home by Marilynne Robinson
2.The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
3.Indignation by Philip Roth
4.The Lazarus Project by Aleksander Hemon
5.Fine Just the Way it is by Annie Proulx
6.The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
7.A Mercy by Toni Morrison
8.Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
9.Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
10.Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser
11.Telex from Cuba by Rachal Kushner
12.Netherland by Joseph O'Neil
13.My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
14.Lush Life by Richard Price
15.Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff


Comment on our list, or offer your own opinion about who you think will win the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:

Tom
November 23, 2008, 9:17 pm
My pick is Rachel Kushner's Telex from Cuba.
Mike
December 15, 2008, 3:30 pm
I think The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich stands a chance (of course, I thought Don Delillo's Falling Man had the inside track last year!). Also, Lush Life by Richard Price made a number of the "best of 2008" lists, so might be one to keep an eye on. I'm not sure if being an Oprah pick hurt or helped David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, but probably one to watch as well. Toni Morrison's A Mercy is making most top 10 lists, not sure if having won the Pulitzer once will have a bearing on a decision in her favor. Same with Marilynne Robinson's Home. Some dark horse candidates might be Serena by Ron Rash; America, America by Ethan Canin (Iowa Writers Workshop faculty member, his colleagues there, Marilyn Robinson and James Alan McPherson, have already won!); City of Thieves by David Benioff (a New Orleans based novel), The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter, Peace by Richard Bausch, The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, and Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke.
Tim Burns
January 2, 2009, 3:55 pm
I think your list is a very good compilation of current books that stand a good chance of winning the fiction prize for the Pulitzer. I think you need to consider Cost by Roxanna Robinson, Man in the Dark by Paul Auster, and Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book. And don't forget dark horse candidates - the dark horse books are the ones that throw front runners out by causing the judges to compromise. I am looking at Pelican Road by Howard Bahr and Driftless by David Rhodes. However, I am backing Telex from Cuba at this date. I have not read Lush Life and The Hour I First Believed yet.
Mike
January 5, 2009, 7:44 pm
The Paul Auster, Geraldine Brooks, and Roxanna Robinson books were among the 60 books entered into the SPSS database for the first (and very preliminary!) analysis and didn't make it to the top 15. At this time, though, the only factors in the regression model for what predicts winning the Pulitzer for which there is data now are factors related to the author's previous award history and the 2008 National Book Award nominations, and you can see that from the books that are in the top 15 at this point. The strongest predictor of winning the Pulitzer has been being nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award (bearing in mind that no single variable predicts the Pulitzer as strongly as the combination of variables such as author past award history, book nominations, etc.), so I think we'll have a better sense of things after the end of January. I didn't have the Bahr or Rhodes books in the dataset, but have added them to the dataset and am going to chase them down to read, so appreciate the suggestions, though at this point none of those would have been in the top 15 even if they'd been included in the dataset from the onset. I agree with you that Auster needs to be watched, as does the Roxanna Robinson book. The Rhodes book might garner some interest because of the back story with regard to the authors previous success followed by an injury from a motorcycle accident. One I'm definitely going to read. I think it's hard to tell with Geraldine Brooks. As probably makes sense, winning a previous pulitzer is not a strong predictor (at least in the regression model) of winning the Pulitzer for any year, simply because so few authors have won more than one, particularly authors from the modern era for whom all of the other data is available.

I should note, of course, that the model only predicts about 40% of the variance ... leaving roughly 60% unaccounted for. That means, essentially, that there's only so much one can actually predict about the Pulitzer. That said, it's clear that books that are nominated for other major prizes are strong contenders as are books by authors who have won major awards.
Anonymous
January 24, 2009, 1:44 am
I'm hoping for eith Lush Life or My Sister my Love. They're both really important contemporary pieces of work.
Mike
January 25, 2009, 2:04 pm
You certainly have to think that Joyce Carol Oates is due! She's been nominated for every major award, including the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award, but hasn't won anything since her 1969 National Book Award win for Them. If you're not familiar with it, check out the wiki "Honor Roll: Fiction Authors" (http://www.awardannals.com/wiki/Honor_roll:Fiction_authors), which assigns points to authors based upon past award nominations and wins. She ranks 8th, though only four of the authors in front of her are American and, thus, eligible for the Pulitzer, and two are primarily genre authors that are unlikely to get the award, so she trails only Philip Roth and E.L. Doctorow, and scores higher than Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, John Updike and others.
Mike
January 25, 2009, 5:28 pm
So, now that we know Kushner was not nominated for the NBCC award, what might that tell us about her chances for the Pulitzer or, for that matter, about anyone else's chances given their NBA or NBCC status. Since 1982 (e.g., 27 years), here is how the Pulitzer winning books fare with regard to nominations for the two major prizes that come before the announcement of the Pulitzer [National Book Award (NBA), National Book Critics Circle Award (NBCC)]:

Nominated for NBA(independent of NBCC status):
1982-Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
1983-The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1985-Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1987-A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1988-Beloved by Toni Morrison
1989-Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1990-The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
1994-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
1997-Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser
2004-The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Nominated for NBA but not NBCC (as was Kushner):
1983-The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1989-Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1990-The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
1997-Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser

Won NBA:
1982-Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
1983-The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1994-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

Nominated for NBCC independent of NBA status:
1982-Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1984-Ironweed by William Kennedy
1985-Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1986-Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
1987-A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1988-Beloved by Toni Morrison
1991-Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1992-A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1994-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
1995-The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1996-Independence Day by Richard Ford
1998-American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1999-The Hours by Michael Cunningham
2001-The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2003-Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2004-The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2005-Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
2007-The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2008-The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
(continued next post)
Mike
January 25, 2009, 5:29 pm
(Continued from previous post)
Nominated for NBCC but not NBA:
1984-Ironweed by William Kennedy
1986-Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
1991-Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1992-A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1995-The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1996-Independence Day by Richard Ford
1998-American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1999-The Hours by Michael Cunningham
2001-The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2003-Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2005-Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
2007-The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2008-Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Won NBCC:
1982-Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1984-Ironweed by William Kennedy
1991-Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1992-A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1995-The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
2004-The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2005-Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
2008-The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Nominated for both NBA and NBCC
1982-Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1985-Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1987-A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1988-Beloved by Toni Morrison
1994-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
2004-The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Nominated for both NBA and NBCC and won NBCC
1982-Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
2004-The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Won NBA and NBCC:
1982-Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

Not Nominated for NBA or NBCC:
1993-A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
2000-Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
2002-Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2006-March by Geraldine Brooks
Anonymous
January 26, 2009, 11:01 am
I haven't read THEM yet, but I read BLONDE, and BLACK WATER. Both of them were Pulitizer finalist. I must admit that they got it right last year with The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. That book was amazingly funny, and I loved the historical tid bits of information. Here's hoping that Mrs. Oates can get whats finally due to her!
Tim Burns
January 26, 2009, 2:54 pm
One more interesting web page to visit. Each year the American Library Association meets in January (at ALA Mid-Winter). One of their divisions, RUSA selects a list of notable books. Since 2000 they have listed as one of their 10-12 fiction titles the Pulitzer Prize winning book five seperate years. This year the list includes; Plague of Doves, Unaccustomed Earth, Dangerous Laughter, and Olive Kitteridge as well as other titles. They always have good books listed.
Mike
January 27, 2009, 9:15 am
Great resource. It appears that ALA published a book a few years back titled "50 Years of Notable Books" that provides the list for each year from the time the lists were published. I think my library has a copy, and if I can get hold of it and I can get that information back to 1982, I can enter whether or not a book made the list each year as a varible in the regression equation and rerun the analysis to see if it is a variable that predicts the publitzer outcome. I'll see if I can do that in the next week or so and, if I can, I'll update the list if it changes.

In addition to the Erdrich, Millhauser, Lahiri, and Strout books, this year's ALA list has two more that I've eyeballed as outside contenders for the Pulitzer ... Peace by Richard Bausch and City of Thieves by David Benioff. Benioff's a very outside contender, but that book got a lot of buzz when it was released and some good reviews. Bausch has been a PEN/Faulkner award finalist twice.

I don't think any of us have mentioned Millhauser's Dangerous Laughter before. It was 21st on my December list (we only listed the top 15 on pprize.com) and, of course,he won the Pulitzer for Martin Dressler.
Becky
March 2, 2009, 1:49 pm
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Guest
March 11, 2009, 5:55 pm
Also, Jayne Anne Phillips has received a lot of praise for her new novel. But because it was released in January, I'm not even sure it would be eligible for the 2009 prize.
Tim
March 14, 2009, 10:01 am
Great List! I think you have the book that will win the 2009 Pulitzer in your list. My list of potential winners (in order of probability):
1. Olive Kitteridge
2. Fine Just the Way It is
3. Netherlands
4. The Lazurus Project
5. The Plague of Doves
6. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
7. Telex from Cuba
8. A Mercy
9. Home
10. My Sister My Love
Outside Contenders: Cost, Golden Grove, Songs for the Missiong, Driftless (just because I like it so much!)
Mike
March 14, 2009, 11:01 am
I think you're referring to Lark and Termite, which was a January release and thus eligible for the 2010 award and not the 2009. But, that's the first book I've tagged this year as having potential legs for the 2010 award!
Mike
March 14, 2009, 11:05 am
I tend to agree about the Junot Diaz book deserving last year's award. I read it recently and liked it a lot. It won the National Book Critics Circle award last year, and being nominated for or winning that award is a very strong predictor of the Pulitzer. It's funny how the nominees for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award can vary so much each year, though this year Marilyn Robinson's book "Home" was a finalist for most of those.
Mike
March 14, 2009, 11:57 am
Netherlands has entered the list as a candidate because it won the PEN/Faulkner, although the only previous Pulitzer Prize book to win the PEN/Faulkner was Richard Ford's Independence Day. Netherlands is a bit of an oddity, though, because it was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in England. Since the Man Booker goes to citizens of the Commonwealth, there's rarely much overlap between that list and the Pulitzer list, and since Joseph O'Neill is Irish, I wasn't even sure he was eligible. But, the PEN/Faulkner award is for U.S. authors, just like the Pulitzer, and O'Neill is married to a U.S. Citizen and lives in NYC, so I'm presuming he is eligible. The other thing that book may have going for it is it's a 9-11/post-9-11 novel set in NYC. Tragic upheavals that effect the U.S. tend to be a theme in the Pulitzer ... Civil war novels still win (March by Geraldine Brooks) or get nominated (The March by E.L. Doctorow), as do Vietnam books (Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson), and I presume we'll see the same phenomenon with 9-11 novels. That's partly why I thought David Benioff's book City of Thieves had a chance, not that it۪s a 9-11 novel, but since it was about New Orleans and Katrina. Two years ago "A Disorder Peculiar to the Country" by Ken Kalfus and The Zero by Jess Walter, both 9-11 novels, got nominations for the National Book Award, but those have been the only 9-11 novels (at least that I can think of) that have received award nominations to this point. That was one reason I thought Don DeLillo's Falling Man had a chance last year, though it didn't get any nominations and was panned in a couple of big reviews (NY Times). I read it and thought it was a bit bizarre but in the end I liked it ... certainly much better than Cosmopolis or The Body Artist, the two novels that preceded it.

In any case, I'd say Netherlands bears watching. I still have a soft spot for The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich, although it's not been nominated for anything else, so my hopes for it have dimmed a bit. It's worth noting that Tobias Wolff's Our Story Begins won the "Story Prize", awarded for excellence in short stories, a couple of weeks ago (it's a $25,000 prize!), and he seems like a Pulitzer-type author. Also, after Home by Marilynne Robinson, The Lazarus Project by Aleksander Hemon received the most nominations for books for this year, with both NBA and NBCC nominations. I'm just not certain about his eligibility for the Pulitzer, as I'm not sure he's a U.S. Citizen ... though he's lived in Chicago now for a decade and writes from there. If he is eligible, that seems to me the type of breakout novel that would get nominated or win. Finally, I'd say that I think the most likely candidate for the "first novel surprise winner" is still Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner, though it didn't do that well in the awards after the National Book Awards. I liked the book quite a bit, though.
Mike
March 14, 2009, 12:07 pm
If it wins, I think it would be the first Oprah book to be given the Pulitzer after being selected for the Oprah book club. There have been several Pulitzer's selected as Oprah books, The Road by Cormac McCarthy most recently, but in all those cases, I'm pretty sure, the Oprah selection came after the book had won the Pulitzer. I liked the book a lot as well, it's been a bit disappointing to see it shut out from all the major awards.
elijah
March 16, 2009, 9:28 pm
Oscar Wao was one of the best books I have ever read. I loved it, and I think it's so inspiring that it won the Pulitizer.
Brak
March 31, 2009, 1:58 am
I'm surprised no one has mentioned "Shadow Country" by Peter Matthiessen...it won the national book award and is on my shortlist.
Mike
April 4, 2009, 5:12 pm
Good point, although it finished pretty far down in the rankings based upon the regression analysis (26th), mainly because although it won the NBA, that was it ... it wasn't nominated for anything else and, surprisingly, I thought, it wasn't even listed on the New York Times Notable books for 2008. I recall that there was some concern with regard to whether Shadow Country was really a new book, since it is a revised and rewritten version of 3 of Matthiessen's previous books. The National Book Foundation clearly felt it was a new work of fiction, and Matthiessen indicated that virtually every page and every line was rewritten, so perhaps that isn't an issue. I haven't read it yet, so can't comment on how good it is, but three previous NBA winners went on to win the Pulitzer (Rabbit is Rich, The Color Purple, Shipping News), so it can't really be considered a dark horse or anything. Anything else on your shortlist not mentioned previously?
Brak
April 6, 2009, 6:24 pm
I think "A Person of Interest" by Susan Choi should probably be included in the list of possiblilities--I haven't read every book on your list, though Netherland stands a strong chance, I think. I would be surprised if Indignation makes it on the list at all (though I love Roth).
As to Matthiessen's Shadow Country being a reprint of 3 novels, the Pulitzer is often awarded to Short Story collections, even if they consist entirely of previously published material (Katherine Anne Porter...Raymond Carver...etc.) I would be surprised if, given how much time he spent rewriting and editing the original three novels, the Pulitzer committee takes issue with it.
I guess my shortlist is: Home, Shadow Country, Netherland, A Mercy...and possibly--though for some reason I am hesitant to include it--Unaccustomed Earth.
Mike
April 9, 2009, 9:34 am
Good point about the Shadow Country/Short Story anthology comparison, you're probably right. I also agree that Indignation most likely won't win or be a finalist. Anything by Roth, Updike, Oates, and a few others shoots to the top of the regression analysis because they've won/been nominated so frequenlty. Given that there are so few two-time Pulitzer winners [three, according to Harry Kloman's Pulitzer Prize Thumbnail site(http://www.pitt.edu/~kloman/pulitzerindex.html): Booth Tarkington-1919 and 1922, William Faulkner-1955 and 1963, and John Updike-1982 and 1991], it's hard to predict based upon historical trends exactly what the impact of winning a prior award is on a book in the next few years. Tarkington's wins were three years apart, but both Faulkner and Updike had 8 or 9 years between wins. Whatever the impact (if any), it will effect Home and Unaccustomed Earth alike.

Susan Choi's book is one that hasn't been mentioned yet and seems a good option. It was a PEN/Faulkner finalist and her 2004 novel, American Woman, was a Pulitzer finalist. I'd put her odds in the same range as Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteredge (NBCC finalist), Ron Rash's Serena (PEN/Faulkner finalist), and Joan Silber's The Size of the World (LA Times fiction finalist)... all strong books whose author has been nominated for prizes in recent years.
Brak
April 10, 2009, 11:25 pm
Norman Mailer also won 2 pulitzers...Armies of the Night and Executioner's Song.
Mike
April 14, 2009, 9:52 am
Good point, I should have qualified that as having won twice for the Novel/Fiction award, since Armies of the Night won the award in the General Non-Fiction category. Not having read Armies of the Night, I wonder if the line between it and Executioner's Song, which won for Fiction, is that clear ... they're both sort of 'non-fiction novels.' Again, according to Harry Kloman's Pulitzer Prize Thumbnail site(http://www.pitt.edu/~kloman/pulitzerindex.html), two Novel/Fiction winners in addition to Mailer have won in other categories: Thornton Wilder (won twice for plays) and Robert Penn Warren, who won twice for poetry.
Gregg
April 14, 2009, 9:00 pm
Didn't Katherine Anne Porter win both the NBA and the Pulitzer the same year for Fiction? BTW there is a great assessment of Porter in this week's New Yorker.
Gregg
April 14, 2009, 9:06 pm
I think the award should go to Roberto Bola̱o's 2666. It won the NBCC award for best fiction. What are the Pulitzer rules regarding translated books or non U.S. writers or dead authors?
Brak
April 15, 2009, 9:08 pm
Yeah--I actually "corrected" you not realizing that Armies of the Night won in general nonfiction. I thought perhaps it was, like The Executioner's Song (or, for that matter, Operation Shylock or Deception by Philip Roth...or Capote's In Cold Blood), considered a novel. My apologies.
It is interesting to see how the Pulitzer committee categorizes books that attempt to defy categorization--including "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Dave Eggers, which was a finalist in the general nonfiction category and not in the biography category.
I'm curious about why "Lush Life" is on the list--I haven't read it, but Richard Price always struck me as more of a quick-genre-read type of writer. Perhaps I've misjudged him?
That being said, I actually thought "The Bright Forever" by Lee Martin (a finalist a couple years back) was a (fairly compelling) page-turner that by NO means deserved a nomination.
Either way, we'll know in a week!
Brak
April 16, 2009, 12:44 am
As for 2010, keep an eye on Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead...coming out a week after the Pulitzer is announced.
bakewell
April 18, 2009, 7:42 am
Very disappointing. I picked up this book before Oprah got her hands on it and I didn't need to travel from Australia to Wisconsin to experience the land. Magical stuff. Hope it's a contender
Brak
April 19, 2009, 1:52 am
it can't win--must be written by an american citizen...and i believe that english must be the language it is written in.
Tom
April 19, 2009, 7:48 am
I have changed my pick at the last minute. I'm going with Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
Mike
April 19, 2009, 2:19 pm
No apology necessary, I didn't take it as a correction, just a point! Lush Life made the list mainly because Price is a former NBCC award nominee (Clockers) and Lush Life was a was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, so basically got enough points in the statistical model to move into the top 15. I tend to think Price is too close to a genre author to get attention from the Pulitzer, and despite the fact that it is up there in the model, I tend to think it doesn't stand that strong of a chance. I guess we'll know by tomorrow, though.

So, now that it's the eve of the announcement, probably time for me to pick something more concrete than just potential winners ... though I simply am unable to decide on one book that I think is most likely to win, everything else weighed in I'm going deep in the list and picking Tobias Wolff's "Our Story Begins" as my hunch book. It won a big short story prize ($25,000) a few weeks ago, so will be on the judges' minds, and he seems like someone who might have the stature to win. I still hold out some hope for Louise Erdrich's "The Plague Doves", which I thought was her best book, but it didn't get any other nominations, so I may be off the mark there, and in the end, I suppose one simply can't ignore Home by Marilynne Robinson ... it has received so many nominations this year, it's clearly the most decorated book leading up to the Pulitzers. As I pointed out earlier, though, last year I had thought it was Don Delillo's year with The Falling Man, which I thought was a very interesting book, and it didn't get any nominations, so we'll see!
Mike
April 19, 2009, 2:49 pm
Yeah, she did win the NBA and Pulitzer for Collected Stories. She's not mentioned in my listing of NBA/Pulitzer joint winners simply because I was looking only at what the results were from 1982 onward. That's simply because the data I use to run the regression analysis is complete only from 1982 onward. But, just eyballing the NBA list from it's first year forward, the NBA/Pulitzer couplet has also gone to Faulkner (A Fable), Bernard Malamud (The Fixer), and John Cheever (Stories of John Cheever). There may be more, but that's just a scan.

I saw the Porter piece in the New Yorker and read another review of the new biography out on her. I'd forgotten she was so young when she died. I've not had any luck getting Collected Stories for my collection yet. Don't seem to be that many copies out there in Fine/Fine condition ... the yellow on the dustjacket fading seems to be a problem, and those that are NF/NF are in the $200 to $350 range, so I keep hoping that I'll run into a copy for less somewhere (hope springs eternal, as they say ... and isn't that a prerequisite for collecting books?).

I did just notice, though, that the Harcourt, Brace & World 1965 version that seems to be accepted as the 'first edition' states "first American Edition" states "First American Edition, 1965" on the copyright page, but that there's an earlier British edition. Between the Covers bookstore mentions the "true first" as the English edition, but then notes that the First American Edition has three stories more than the English edition.

Tom (@PPrize.com), I take the American is the 'true first' because it has the three additional stories?
Mike
April 19, 2009, 3:11 pm
Right. Bolano isn't eligible because he wasn't a U.S. Citizen. Here's the language from the guidelines posted on www.pulitzer.org:

"What books are eligible for consideration? Books first published in the United States during 2008. All entries must be made available for purchase by the general public in either hardcover or bound paperback book form. In the Fiction, Biography and General Nonfiction categories, authors must be American citizens. In the History category, the author may be of any nationality but the subject of the book must be U.S. history. In the Poetry category, the award is for original verse by an American author."

So, first putlished in the U.S. in the award year by a U.S. Citizen are the relevant criteria. I know that, for example, "The Stone Diaries" by Carol Shields won the 1994 award for the First American edition, when the British Edition of the same book was published in 1993, so it must be literally the U.S. publication that matters. Shields seems to really push the limits on those guidelines to some degree... not only were the British and Canadian Editions both publshed in 1993, the year before the U.S. edition, but she is genearlly considered a Canadian author... she was born in the U.S. and I presume she had dual citizenship, but she lived and worked in Canada almost all of her career, and the Stone Diaries also won the Governor General's Award in Canda, which is that countries equivalent to the U.S. Pulitzer or England's Man Booker award! That's relevent this year as Joseph O'Neill (Netherland) is an Irish Citizen married to a U.S. citizen (and, as I said before, since he won the PEN/Faulkner, which also requires U.S. Citizenship, I presume he will meet the Pulitzer criteria) and Aleksander Hemon's The Lazarus Project got a lot of attention, and he's not U.S born, but has lived in Chicago for 8 or 9 years. I'm not sure about the English language requirement, though that has certainly been the case with all past winners.

Unlike the Nobel, the Pulitzer is given posthumously, so you don't have to be alive to win it. Again, back to Harry Klomen's Pulitzer Prize Thumbnails page, James agee (A Death in the Family), William Faulkner (The Reivers) and John Kennedy Tool (A Confederacy of Dunces) were all awarded posthumously, Toole's 12 years after his suicide.
Mike
April 19, 2009, 3:13 pm
I can't even stick to three ... in thinking about it, I gotta put Joseph O'Neill's Netherland on my 'that's the one' list. In fact, push comes to shove, if I have to come up with three for my 'that's the one' list, I'd bump Erdrich's book off and put in O'Neill's!
Guest
April 19, 2009, 10:11 pm
what about the lady who wrote March? Isn't she Australian?
Guest
April 19, 2009, 10:14 pm
I'm reading Lush Life, and its meh, and I boght The Bright Forever for a summer read!
Guest
April 20, 2009, 9:08 am
Looking at the regression model, I feel the some people's names can be taken off the list simply because they have recently won the award and I don't see the judges giving them another award at least not this year. I don't see Marilynne Robinson and Jhumpa Lahiri winning it because they just won a Pulitzer a few years back. I could probably use the same arguement about Annie Proulx and Steven Millhauser. I wouldn't believe that John Updike could win it because he's already won it twice and no ones ever won it three times. Of the authors on this list, the only wons who have previously won this award that I see of having a realistic chance of winning it again would be Phillip Roth and Toni Morrison. In my opinion, The Plague of Doves, The Lazarus Project, My Sister, My Love, and The Life of Edgar Sawtelle stand the best chance of winning. Of course, all of this is mere speculation but it's fun to guess.
Mike
April 20, 2009, 9:59 am
Yes, I agree. I read "John Henry Days," which was nominated for the NBCC, the LA Times Book Award, and the Pulitzer and it was a hoot. I haven't ready his follow up novel to that, Apex Hides the Hurt, but it got pretty much panned by the critics. Perhaps a sophomore slump (although John Henry Days wasn't his first novel, but the first one to get a lot of nominations).
Mike
April 20, 2009, 10:06 am
Yes, Geraldine Brooks, Australian by birth, but married to an American (author Tony Horowitz, who wrote Confederates in the Attic and who, himself, won a journalism Pultizer), so I presume either dual or U.S. citizenship. They live in Nantucket or somewhere like that. I heard her do a reading of her most recent book (People of the Book) in January and she was very funny (has a great laugh along with her Austrailian accent) and was a very gracious signer. She was asked a question about how the Pulitzer changed her life, and in answering it, she relayed that the winning authors are not notified in advance ... they find out essentially when the press starts calling them! She mentioned that she began receiving a flurry of phone calls and had been playing with her young son when the disruptions occurred, and that he answered the home phone while she was on her mobile phone talking with someone else and told that caller that mommy couldn't come to the phone because she'd won the "Pulitzer Surprise"!
Mike
April 20, 2009, 10:37 am
Why the switch Tom?
Brak
April 20, 2009, 11:58 am
Well, the reason I suggest "Sag Harbor" (and the reason that Apex got slammed after his first two books received such enormous praise) is because Whitehead is a fantastic writer, who takes a lot of creative chances. He uses a lot of metaphor and allegory, doesn't always name his characters, deals with racial tensions, etc. "Sag Harbor" is his more straight forward "autobiographical novel" and though I haven't read it, I imagine that it will be a more accessible "coming of age" tale of a college kid in New York.
Mike
April 20, 2009, 12:45 pm
Agreed. I haven't read Apex yet, the next in line of his I want to read is his first novel, The Intuitionist. I did read the excerpt from Sag Harbor in the New Yorker a month or so ago, and thought it was a strong piece. Definitely one to watch.
Tom
April 20, 2009, 2:13 pm
Just a guy feeling. My gut was pretty good. And the list was awesome. It nailed the winner and a finalist just like last year.
Mike
April 20, 2009, 3:04 pm
Good call!
Mike
April 21, 2009, 3:48 pm
I don't really disagree (e.g., that in principal some people's names can be taken off because of the recency or number of their previous Pulitzers), though of course the regression model is just that, a statistical model, and once one starts removing books based upon other considerations, it gets back to speculation. Since there are so few multiple-time winners, it's really impossible, within the regression analysis, to get any effect (that's entered as a factor, by the way, it just doesn't come out as in any way a significant contributor). There's also a recency factor (won Pulitzer within 5 years), but again because so few people win it more than once, that's not a factor that contributes to the model at all. The reason that Updike and Proulx and Robinson and Oates and so forth end up high in the regression analysis is not because of their prior Pulitzer wins or nominations, but because those books also were, by and large, nominated for or won lots of other awards and/or the author has been nominated for or won lots of other awards. Those factors do contribute to predicting the Pulitzer, so one has to sort of take the chaff of the inevitability that Updike or Roth books will end up on the equation with the benefits that the factors give you for other authors/books. By Pulitzer time, though, I gotta say I wasn't sure that Robinson might not win again, so perhaps the fact that she wasn't the winner or finalist is a pretty good indication that recency of award might matter. Again, though, it happens so rarely that it will never be a good predictor variable. I certainly wouldn't count Annie Proulx or Jhumpa Lahiri out in the future, but again, perhaps the recency of Lahiri's award (Proulx's was 1993, so not an issue, I would think) did contibute to the judge's thoughts.

Again this year, an NBCC nominated book won. Being nominated for the NBCC is the single strongest predictor variable in the model, followed by winning the NBCC, so that holds as a good indicator.
Mike
May 19, 2009, 8:42 am
Tim, in looking back at these, I'm reminded that you called Olive Kitteridge as the winner in early March. Good call... just a hunch or something else?
Tim
May 19, 2009, 2:32 pm
Mike, I would love to say that it was an intuitive feeling based upon scientific research and literary skill - the truth is closer to what you did with playing the odds (seeing which books were selected to the NBA, NECK, ALA notable books - seeing which books are getting big play as well as really good reviews by well respected reviewers. Then I just make a guess! However, your site has been a real godsend in putting together your lists in stages as well as giving a forum. Plus I don't feel so weird predicting the Pulitzer Prize winner - there are others out there! Thanks for the site and the recognition. Tim
Mike
May 26, 2009, 11:56 am
Well, you did a pretty good job of putting all that together and coming up with your list! I don't think any of us had Christine Schutt's "All Souls" on our radar, which was the other finalist (along with Erdrich's book). Tom (pprize.com admin) deserves the credit for the discussion board linked to the prediction lists, but like you, I enjoy having a discussion around these themes. I picked up several new authors to watch from the discussion as well.
Brak
January 11, 2010, 5:49 pm
Are we ready at all to suggest 2010 possibilities? I'm still running with Sag Harbor at this point... Love to hear what others think, though, even though there isn't yet a prediction list...
Tom
January 12, 2010, 11:51 am
The list is not ready, but the new page is already set up for it:
http://www.pprize.com/Discussions.php/2010-Prediction
There are lots of comments so far...