Who will be the 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction?


March 23, 2010

Here is the final prediction list for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which will be announced on Monday, April 12. Our research scientist and Modern Firsts/Pulitzer Prize book collector has finished his final regression analysis. His two-year track record has been impressive. Last year, number nine on the 2009 list was the winner, and number six was a finalist. In 2008, number three was the winner, and number five was a finalist.

You might have noticed that this new list is unchanged from last month's adjusted list. That's because none of the March factors were significant enought to change the ranking. This final 2010 list was created using over 30 independent or predictor variables such as newspaper notable and best book lists; other awards and award nominations for 2009; and authors previously nominated for the Pulitzer and other awards.

Missing from this prediction list is Anne Tyler's Noah's Compass. Only books published in 2009 are eligible to win in 2010, and Random House has verified that Noah's Compass was published in 2010 (contrary to all of the information in the first edition indicating that is was published in 2009). Also, please keep in mind that 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 our list for any given year.

Those caveats aside, the top 15 books written in 2009 that we predict to win in 2010 according to this adjusted model are (in order of probability):

1.My Father's Tears: And Other Stories by John Updike
2.Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
3.Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
4.The Humbling by Philip Roth
5.Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
6.The Maple Stories by John Updike
7.American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell
8.Spooner by Pete Dexter
9.Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers
10.In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
11.The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
12.A Good Fall by Ha Jin
13.The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich
14.Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
15.Dear Husband (or Little Bird of Heaven) by Joyce Carol Oates




Comment on our lists, or offer your own opinion about who you think will win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:

Tom
November 27, 2009, 2:46 pm
I'll kick this off with an early suggestion - Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips. It was a finalist for the National Book award, and it got great reviews by Junot Diaz, Alice Munroe, and Tim O'Brien.
Speaking of National Book finalist, the first edition of American Salvage is a paperback and is tough to find. If it won, it would be the second paperback I'd have to collect.
Tom
November 29, 2009, 8:13 am
It is interesting that Colum McCann won the National Book Award. It says in their rules on their site that authors must be U.S. citizens:

http://www.nationalbook.org/nbaentry.html

There is an article in the Irish Times that talks about this:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1120/1224259179529.html

I think the thought was that even though he is not a U.S. citizen, he wrote such a great American novel that it didn't matter. This same thinking might apply for the Pulitzer, where the requirements last adjusted in 1947 are:

"For distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life."

Their website backs this up by stating that "Only U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the Prizes in Letters, Drama and Music". The prize for Literature falls under Letters.

http://www.pulitzer.org/faq#q4

So who knows, if Colum McCann can win the National Book Award, why not the Pulitzer?




Mike
December 7, 2009, 6:27 pm
I'll bet he is a U.S. Citizen, I suspect he has dual citizenship. I"m almost certain I read that his wife was American, though I wouldn't swear to that. He moved to NYC in 1984, then went to UT Austin, and wasn't married until 1992, so I'm guessing he met his wife in the US.

Where'd the post about your prediction regarding Jayne Anne Phillips' Lark and Termite as a book to watch go? I was going to suggest that one to watch is Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor. I saw him at the Texas Book Festival and the end of October and he's every bit as witty as you'd think he would be by reading his books. Other possibilities... in addition to Phillips and Whitehead, might be E.L. Doctorow for Homer and Langley, Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs (making a lot of Top 10 lists), Richard Powers' Generosity: An Enhancement (he won the National Book Award a few years back), the Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, and, although I think he's too "popular" to win a Puliters, I'm always rooting for John Irving, and he's got a new one out (Last Night in Twisted River). Of course there's also new ones from Roth and Oates out, Sherman Alexie has a book out, and Pete Dexter's Spooner has gotten good reviews.
Steve
December 9, 2009, 5:21 pm
It's about time John Irving was recognised with a Pulitzer. Maybe 2010 will be his year!
Brian
December 18, 2009, 9:53 am
I would be happy to receive word that Joyce Carol Oates had won one in 2010. Her or Bobbie Ann Mason someday.
Brian
December 18, 2009, 9:55 am
Silas House's Eli the Good, I almost forgot about. That would be awesome!
Tara
December 19, 2009, 3:05 am
I know this is a bit out of the blue perhaps - but 'Tinkers' by Paul Harding is a book to watch out for ....it is a small book with a gigantic plot which is so tight...I think it stands a fair chance.
Mike
December 19, 2009, 11:41 am
I'm beginning to think Oates has a better chance for the Nobel Prize than the Pulitzer. Her book this year, Little Bird of Heaven, will undoubtedly end up in the top 15 in the prediction list just because she's been nominated for so many of the awards so many other times, though this book didn't make the NY Times 100 best books list.

Speaking of the NY Times list, one book I forgot to mention that ended up making the NY Times 10 best books list is Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, so that one might be one to watch.
Tom
December 19, 2009, 1:16 pm
If Joyce Carol Oates came out with a collected stories or something that represented her work over the years, I think the Pulitzer board would use it as an opportunity to honor her. Sort of a lifetime achievement award. They have done that in the past with Katherine Anne Porter and Jean Stafford.
Brian
December 22, 2009, 11:01 am
It would be great if she decided to do this. Good thought.
brak
January 14, 2010, 8:40 pm
http://www.nytimes.com/gift-guide/holiday-2009/10-best-gift-guide-sub/list.html

I think Sag Harbor stands a good chance. Adam Haslett's novel "Union Atlantic" could be in the running if, i believe, he submitted a galley or advanced reading copy--otherwise, I'll just set that book (which doesn't come out until February 2010) aside for next year's prediction.

I would put "Chronic City" on my list, but if I recall correctly, while the NYTimes Book Review gave it a positive review, the New York Times absolutely hated it. I can't remember the last time I read such a harsh review of such a major author. I have only read Lethem's "Fortress of Solitude", and I found the writing in the first half superb, but the novel seems to dwindle a bit in its final part when it switches to first person. So while I have faith in him as a writer, I (perhaps unfairly) don't entirely have confidence in him as a novelist.

Barbara Kingsolver's latest might be in the running.

Richard Russo has a new one. Roth's novel won't be in the running. I enjoyed the book, as I often do Roth's novels, but it lacks the complexity of which he is capable. He is more likely to have a chance next year with his book "Nemesis" which promises to be a bit more substantial and more historical (a winning combination for him).

I am not a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates' novels--even though she has been slighted and nominated many times. That being said, I do agree about the stories. They are often wonderful and they exhibit, to me, a stronger voice. If she wins, I hope it is for that.

E. L. Doctorow is a fantastic writer and has been a finalist at least a couple of times. I find him a better short story writer than a novelist, but in any case, he is strong and his book seemed to get a lot of attention when it came out this year.

Updike had a book of short stories out this year. I haven't ever known the Pulitzer Prize board to award a book simply because its author passed away that year, but he is always a strong writer, so it's possible he's got a shot.

That's all I've got off the top of my head.

Larry
January 26, 2010, 9:40 am
Oates has already done this, to little notice, High Lonesome: Stories 1966-2006 (Ecco, 2006).
Mike
January 26, 2010, 12:25 pm
I"ve read both Sag Harbor and Russo's new one, That Old Cape Magic. Kind of interesting that both were set in Cape/Harbor/Summer beach vacation settings! Of the two, I think Sag Harbor has the better chance, though it hasn't shown up on any of the award finalists lists yet, so who knows. I haven't read Chronic City yet, it's on the list! I"m currently reading Colum McCann's NBA award book, and it's quite a read, so I think it's still a strong contender. I'm also about 1/2 way through Phillip's Lark and Termite, and since that book was both a NBA and NBCC nominee, I have to think it's a very strong contender for the Pulitzer, and its a very good book to boot!
Mike
January 26, 2010, 1:58 pm
Maybe they should have just named it "Collected Stories", that seems to be the Pulitzer winning title! :-)
Leo
January 27, 2010, 6:02 pm
Short stories do very well normally so I'll put my chips on Ha Jin for A Good Fall. A good second guess is Louise Erdrich who was so close with Plaque of Doves last year and maybe the judges will give her what she rightfully deserved last year. Doctorow, Updike and Oates are all fabulous authors but indeed more likely to appear on a Nobel Prize long list. However not for 2010, there I'll put my chips on Ismail Kadare the Albanian author who won the first International Man-Booker prize with the competion of several Nobel Laureates. Anyway exciting as ever as there are so many good books in the running. In a few weeks we should have a clearer picture, hopefully as clear as Junot Diaz's win was so we all know what to run to the bookstore for.
brak
January 29, 2010, 8:41 pm
I thought The Maple Stories was released a long time ago...
Tom
January 30, 2010, 12:35 am
Sort of. All of the stories, except for one, was out in paperback in 1979 under the slightly different name "Too Far to go: the Maple Stories". This new book is the first hardcover. It also has one new Maple story called "Grandparenting" that was not in the 1979 book. So it could be argued that this is a new book. Sounds like a possible similar situation to <a href="http://www.pprize.com/BookDetail.php/Collected-KA-P">The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter </a>
Mike
January 30, 2010, 1:23 pm
Right, and although it comes in on the list, that's due only to Updike's previous award history. If any Updike short story collection has a chance this year, I'd guess it would be My Father's Tears since it at least showed up on the NY Times 100 best.
brak
January 30, 2010, 4:34 pm
Gotcha. So here's a question--first of all, as people who obviously enjoy good literature, how is Colum McCann's book? I realize that it has already been mentioned here a couple of times (including some endorsements), but I was curious if anyone felt up to the task of giving it a proper review... in any case, I'm terribly excited about reading it (I'm a sucker for good New York books).
Second question, does anyone know where Zoe Heller stands? She lives in New York, but she is a British author--her book "The Believers" received a lot of attention and wonderful reviews, but I don't know that she would qualify for the pulitzer. Just curious.
Finally, when is the winner/finalists of the pen/faulkner award announced?
Mike
January 30, 2010, 6:54 pm
I'm only half way through McCann's book, so will withhold judgement for now, but I'm reminded of Joseph O'Neill's book Netherland which won the PEN/Faulkner Award last year, which I liked quite a bit. The PEN/Faulkner website isn't listing an announcement date, but it's almost always late February... last year it was announced February 25. As for Zoe Heller... a little hard to tell whether she'd be eligible. She's married to an American, so it's entirely possible she has U.S. Citizenship. The only major award she's been nominated for was the Booker in 2003 for "What Was She Thinking?", so she still had British Citizenship at that time, though of course she could very well have dual citizenship.
anna
February 1, 2010, 12:22 pm
LARK AND TERMITE!!!! HANDS DOWN! A WONDERFUL PEICE OF FICTION.
Mike
February 1, 2010, 12:43 pm
Good point... Tinkers made the American Library Association's Noteable books list for the year, which tends to be a relatively strong predictor of the Pulitzer. Since the book didn't get nominated for either the NBA or the NBCC, it's probably not going to show up on the prediction list unless it's nominated for and wins the PEN/Faulkner award, but seems like a dark horse to keep an eye on.
Mike
February 1, 2010, 12:46 pm
Louise Erdrich's short story collection, The Red Convertable, did make the prelminary list, but mainly on the strngth of her past award records (NBCC award and nominations for the NBA and Pulitzer). Her new book, Shadow Tag, which will be released February 15 (and, of course, not eligible for this year's Pultizer) looks to me to be an early book to watch for the 2011 Pulitzer... it's getting a lot of rave reviews and, as you note, she was right up there with Plague of Doves.
brak
February 1, 2010, 7:17 pm
I bought Colum McCann's book today...let me know what you think about it when you finish! As soon as I finish the book(s) I'm currently reading, I'll start "World Spin"!
Mike
February 2, 2010, 8:53 am
I had downloaded 'World Spin' on my Kindle, but forgot my charger on a long trip and when the battery died, I bought Phillip's Lark and Termite, so am going to finish that before I get back to 'World Spin'!
Tom
February 5, 2010, 1:37 pm
The plot thickens. I just picked up the Joyce Carol Oates book, Dear Husband. Turns out it is a collection of short stories. I'm still going with Lark and Termite for the winner. But I wouldn't be surprised if Dear Husband is a finalist.
February 6, 2010, 10:27 pm
HA! i just bought Lark and Termite today! I found it at a used book shop. (I myself have not made the transition to digital book yet--I feel like there's still enough dust that needs to settle around that. I think, however, it is great for people who make use of public transport. and for textbooks...not to diverge too far from the topic of pprizes, but I am curious to see what impact, if any, the ipad has on the publishing industry...I know the industry is curious as well.)
Mike
February 10, 2010, 10:25 am
I finished Lark and Termite and I gotta say, it strikes me as a strong contender (as well as a good book!). I went back and looked at reviews for the book (it was released in January of 2009, so I didn't recall how the reviewers treated it), and they were, by and large, rave reviews, including two from the NY Times with one of those from the NYT lead reviewer, Michiko Kakutani. I've just gotten back into Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, but the more I read of it, the more it reminds me of Dennis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" (rather than O'Neill's Netherland, as I mentioned earlier). In any case, these two books (Let the Great World Spin, Lark and Termite) seem to fall somewhat on a continuum similar to last year's NBA/Pulitzer winners with regard to the type of book/story told, with Tree of Smoke on one end of that continuum and Olive Kitteridge on the other. World Spin is more like Tree, while Lark and Termite is more like Olive, though not as similar as World Spin is to Tree. Not sure any of that makes sense, but basically Lark and Termite feels more like a Pulitzer book to me than does World Spin, so that taken with great reviews (several reviewers compared Lark and Termite to Faulkner's Sound and Fury!), I would give the edge to Lark and Termite for the Pulitzer. We'll see how the NBCC finals and the PEN/Faulkner awards come out.
brak
March 1, 2010, 3:16 pm
http://www.penfaulkner.org/news_media.php?id=595
Mike
March 1, 2010, 9:12 pm
Yes ... some expected names (Colson Whitehead, Lorrie Moore, Sherman Alexie and, to some degree, Barbara Kingsolver, who may suffer from the same "her-books-sell-too-many-copies" curse as does John Irving) and a small press publication by Lorraine Lopez, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories. I think the format this year is new, though, since they only announced finalists and will announce the winner toward the end of March. I'm almost certain that for at least the last several years they've announced finalists and the winner at the same time... they certainly did last year and the year before. That said, actually winning the PEN/Faulkner award isn't a strong preditor of winning the Pulitzer ... its' only happened twice (Richard Ford, Independence Day and Michael Cunningham, The Hours), though being a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner is a decent predictor. Since 1980, Gilead, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Lonesome Dove, Ironweed, and A Confederacy of Dunces have all been PEN/Faulkner nominees that went on to win the Pulitzer (as well as Independence Day and The Hours).
Mike
March 1, 2010, 9:25 pm
Just an observation that although I think books like Lark and Termite and Let the Great World Spin look like real possibilities based upon their performance in other awards and lists this year, and some books lower on this prediction list, like Ha Jin's A Good Fall or Richard Powers Generosity: An Enhancement, that have missed out on the awards lists but still seem strong contenders because of the authors past history and their appearance on "best-of-2009" book lists, I wouldn't be half surprised if we got a winner from out of the blue this year... it's been a few years since that happened (e.g., a book that was not nominated for any other award and the author was not a past awardee), so perhaps we need to keep in mind it can happen. March, by Geraldine Brooks in 2006 was the last sort of sleeper, beating out E.L Doctorow's The March, which won the PEN/Faulkner awards, the NBCC Fiction Award, and was an LA Times and NBA fiction finalist. Had the prediction analysis happened that year, Doctorow's book would have been way out in front, and I don't think Brooks' book would have made the top 15. Similarly, in 2002, Richard Russo's Empire Falls, which was not nominated for anything else, beat out John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead, which was an LA Times and NBCC Fiction finalist, and Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, which won the NBA, was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and LA Times fiction finalist, and a NBCC Fiction finalist. And, just to make the case one more time, in 2000, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies beat out Ha Jin's Waiting, though the former was not nominated for any major awards (other than the LA Times 1st Fiction finalist) and the latter was the PEN Faulkner and NBA winner and an LA Times finalist. So, it happend in 2000, 2002, and 2006... and maybe we're due!
brak
March 2, 2010, 11:41 am
I'm surprised by the last two examples since "Empire Falls" and "Maladies" are such good books...
Mike
March 2, 2010, 3:13 pm
I agree. Empire Falls was, particularly, a dark horse winner, at least in terms of being able to predict it. It made the NY Times Top 100 best books of the year list and that was the only recognition it received, and prior to the Pulitzer, Russo had never been nominated for a major prize. Maladies was, as I noted, the LA Times 1st Fiction award winner for that year (although that wouldn't have helped predict the Pulitzer since the LA Times awards occur after the Pulitzer is announced) and was on the NY Times 100 best books list. In looking back, I see that Maladies also won the PEN/Hemingway award for that year. So, there were clues pointing to Lahiri's win, though I'd still call it a dark horse winner. I'm not sure how many other first books were Pulitzer winners... Oscar Wao was Diaz's first novel, but second book, Maladies was Lahiri's first book, but then you have to go back a ways to find another first book winner ... I think John Kennedy Toole's 1980 win for Confederacy of Dunces, his only book, is the next one. Then I think you have to go back to Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 for a first book winner. I recall a few more among the earlier winners, but I'll bet there are not many more.
brak
March 2, 2010, 4:37 pm
Yeah, it's true. Very few first books win--although there are more recent examples of first books that were finalists for the Pulitzer (Adam Haslett's "You Are Not a Stranger Here" and "Jernigan" by David Gates come to mind).

I definitely feel like the Pulitzers probably owe a few authors--not that I have ever been struck with the notion that the panel feels compelled by any sense of indebtedness the way, say, the Oscars at times seem to--in particular, Doctorow (who continues to get nominated), Kingsolver, Russel Banks, Don Delillo, and Robert Stone (who has been nominated...twice, I believe, and who has a new book out this year). While I have only begun to read "Lark and Termite" (I went to a cheap book store and was distracted from L&T by an old copy of Bellow's "Humboldt's Gift"), I have read Phillips' short stories, and if her novels are as well-constructed and crisply written as her short stories (as the beginning of L&T would suggest that they are), she is much-deserving of a Pulitzer Prize.

I wouldn't be surprised if the winner is Lark & Termite, and the finalists are Kingsolver and Doctorow, or some combination of those three books.

Regarding Ha Jin, by the way, while I really enjoy his work, I don't think I've ever read anything of his that hit me over the head as something that MUST win. I almost always feel that I encounter something I like better. That being said, whatever ambition may be found in his plots is quiet, and I would not be surprised if it is this subtle (oft-internal) movement that has kept him from ever winning.

While we're discussing who wins--though it is off-topic a bit--I find it interesting to read those rare books where the guest jury's choice for winner is overturned by the panel at columbia. One example is the year that Gravity's Rainbow was chosen to win, but the Pulitzer committee decided not to award any book. The second example that I am aware of is the year "Ironweed" won. The jury unanimously chose "The Feud" by Thomas Berger to win, and that decision was overturned. Now, given, "Ironweed" is a wonderful book and is almost always included as one of the great pieces of American literature from the last century. But Berger's book is fantastic, has wonderful writing, and reminds me a lot of "A Confederacy of Dunces"--it's too bad that Berger has written for so long, so well, in relative obscurity....so, to my mind, assuming he writes another book that they consider worthy of nomination, he (and Pynchon) are owed.

Though I'm digressing, and we are perhaps off-topic...but in any case, hopefully it keeps the conversation interesting and lively, while we await the revised prediction list.
Mike
March 2, 2010, 6:41 pm
I agree that from an outsider’s perspective (e.g., anyone not on the panel!), there’s a sense that Delillo, Doctorow, and Banks, among others, should have already won or deserve to win at some level based on the consistent quality of their work and their standing in the field. The year Delillo was nominated for Mao II, Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres won, so hard to argue with that. Why he wasn’t nominated for White Noise is a puzzle … the winner that year was Alison Lurie’s Foreign Affairs and the two runners-up were by writers who had never been nominated for anything and who haven’t been nominated for anything since. The book he probably should have won for was Underworld, but that year Philip Roth won for American Pastoral. Robert Stone had the misfortune to also be up against those two books that year. Banks has been nominated for Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter, with the latter, in my estimation, the strongest contender between those two, but had the misfortune to be up against The Hours and The Poisonwood Bible. With both Delillo and Banks, though, if the panel has been waiting for a time to make up selection, in some way, it doesn’t seem that their books since those have been strong enough. I thought Delillo’s Falling Man was a shoe in, but it got panned (which surprised me, I liked it), and it doesn’t sound like his new one, Point Omega, is going to be the one. I agree wholeheartedly that Pynchon, particularly, is owed… hard to understand why Gravity’s Rainbow wasn’t deemed worthy.

As I’m sure the panel would point out, of course, the Pulitzer is for one book and not a life-time achievement award, but seems to me there have been a few “make up” awards. Anne Tyler was nominated, but didn’t win, for both Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist, both of which, in my opinion, were far stronger books than Breathing Lessons.

At this point, I do still think Lark & Termite is the book to bet on, though agree that Doctorow and Kingsolver’s books could weigh in. I don’t think Homer & Langley has gotten all that much buzz, though. I think, in looking back at past nominees, I may pay more attention to Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, as it’s getting very good press and got a PEN/Faulkner nomination to boot.

I’m glad the announcement is relatively early in April this year…
brak
March 3, 2010, 12:58 am
So here's a question which actually probably relates to an earlier comment in the thread... do you really feel that an author who sells well suffers from such sales? I would hope this is not the case...

Regarding Delillo, I read "Underworld" this past summer and was stunned. It is in some ways a strangely structured novel, though I like that its structure seems to stem in part from the theme, the notion that we hold dear certain objects because we can trace them back to an earlier important event. The truth is Delillo needs to write another book like this, different and yet just as broad, bold, and original. "Falling Man" seemed to suffer primarily (from the reviews I read), because a lot of people felt that Delillo--who is somewhat famous for acquiring moments in history and utililzing them to shed light on the human experience--didn't get too far beneath the surface of 9-11. He didn't communicate something new, but instead seemed to be going over the experience, grappling with it just as everyone did and has since. I have not yet read it, but that is what a gathered from some of the reviews. That being said, he is a wonderful writer, and very original...so hopefully he will eventually get a Pulitzer. White Noise may have suffered from the fact that, in many ways, Delillo's earlier work was spent writing AGAINST certain types of traditioal novels, while "Underworld" seemed--despite its structure--to embrace something a bit more traditional.

Regarding whether the Pulitzers are a lifetime achievement award, I think that a better example than Anne Tyler (who was nominated for 3 books in a row, finally winning for Breathing Lessons...I think all three books were equally good, personally, and it really came down--I would imagine--to how good her competition was) is Cormac McCarthy. "The Road" is a fine book. Elegant in its simplicity and powerful in its images. Simple and yet moments of pure poetry. That being said, that year's finalists struck me as weak, and I do not feel that to be McCarthy's best novel. Most people don't--he was owed and finally got his Pulitzer.

I really liked "Foreign Affairs", though it is a strange book...almost seems like really really great chick lit, but with Magical Realism thrown in. Oh well...it's not always obvious why books get chosen...and many people seem to recede quickly after they win or are revealed to be finalists. I sometimes think I am the only person in the world who read "Shakespeare's Kitchen" or who has heard of Lore Segal. And god forbid I try to find an early book of Christine Schutt's in a bookstore, much less a used bookstore. In fact, I can't even find her early books in a city library. And yet, she is one of the last great discoveries of Gordon Lish (the man who, I believe, helped make Carver into the great writer he was), an editor who strove for spare language.
Mike
March 4, 2010, 2:57 pm
I just saw that "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders" by Daniyal Mueenuddin, # 10 on the current list and a finalist for the NBA, won the Story Prize (http://www.thestoryprize.org/). The prize hasn't been around long enough (only awarded since 2004) to play a role in predicting the pulitzer yet, and it's for short story collections only, but the fact that it won probably gives that book a bit more heft for the Pulitzer. I thought that last year as well, when Tobias Wolff won it, though, and his book wasn't a Pultizer winner or finalist, so who knows! If nothing else, Mueenuddin's got to be pleased, as the Story Prize comes with a $20,000 cash award!
Tom
March 5, 2010, 3:54 pm
I just put up the first edition points for American Salvage. There are only 1,500 first printings, and these are softcovers published by Wayne State University. Kinda reminds me of Confederacy of Dunces...
Mike
March 5, 2010, 6:54 pm
I ordered a copy from Amazon as soon as the NBCC finalists were announced, but even by then it was into a 3rd printing. I found a 1st, but it's the only one I've been able to find, there aren't many out there. The only book in recent years I've had as much difficulty finding was a 1st of Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country. I found one after it was announced as an NBA finalist but before it was announced as the winner, and I didn't see another for a while (in Fine/Fine condition, that is).
brak
March 6, 2010, 3:43 pm
I had trouble finding a first edition of "Shadow Country" as well--and that was in New York, where a stunning amount of books (used, valuable, and otherwise) are constantly circulating. I finally found one for $20 in perfect condition, which is great, because the cover price of that book is a bit steep.
Is "American Salvage" good?
What's the most rare first edition that you guys own? Or your FAVORITE first edition or signed book ? Just curious...(I'm not sure of my own offhand, though I have a lot of signed books. It was cool last year to meet Toni Morrison and get a signed copy of "A Mercy".)
Tom
March 6, 2010, 7:18 pm
Were you able to get Toni Morrison to sign Beloved? I heard that she doesn't sign here older books.
I'm half-way through American Salvage, and so far I like it. Only problem is that I'm not sure how likely a collection of short stories is likely to do this year right after Elizabeth Strout won last year for her collection. It would be interesting to see how often novels win versus story collections. Collections have only been eligible since 1948. But since that time it seems like novels dominate.
Mike
March 7, 2010, 12:46 pm
My wife read American Salvage and said it was "gritty", but ended up liking it. I'm still trying to get through the last 1/3 of Let the Great World Spin ... not because I don't like it, just because I'm having a hard time finding the time to sit down and read. I"m listening to Beloved on CD during my work commute, not sure why I've not read it before, but I'm pretty impressed. Too bad if she won't sign that, I have a copy I was hoping she'd sign at some upcoming event.
Mike
March 7, 2010, 1:16 pm
Brak, I have collected books all my life, but turned to Pulitzer collecting only in the last several years, so got a late start on things. I think my 1st of Michael Shaara's Killer Angels is probably my rarest, though I just bought a copy of John Hersey's A Bell for Adano, which is apparently pretty hard to come by in the true 1st edition. Looking at Tom's "Market Analysis" page on PPrize.com, I don't have any books on the rarest 10 or most valuable 10 list yet, so still a ways to go! As for favorites, I agree that books I've been able to have signed by the author are among my favorites, particularly those books I really enjoyed reading, even if they're not that rare... Russo's Empire Falls and Chabon's Amazing Adventures among those. I also collect the uncorrected proofs or advance reading copies of books, and have ARC's and Proofs of both of those that I was able to get signed, which was cool.

How about other people out there? Favorites, rarest?

NBCC award winner is announced this coming Thursday.
Mike
March 7, 2010, 1:58 pm
You've got me on Shakespeare's Kitchen, I'm among those who haven't read it! it seens to me that there's often one outlier among the Pulitzer finalists, and by outlier, I mean a book that hasn't been nominated for any previous award or didn't get a lot of buzz leading up to the Pulitzer. Since all the other major US awards are announced prior to the Pulitzer, I wonder if the panel makes any effort, unconsciously or otherwise, to go beyond just coronating the books that have been nominated for previous awards and to find at least one book that didn't show up on other lists/awards. Last year that outlier book seemed to me to be Schutt's book, the year before was Segal's book, in 2006 it was Lee Martin's Bright Forever, in 2004 Susan Choi's American Woman, etc. None of these were nominated for anything other than the Pulitzer. This year, I could see Jim Lynch's Border Songs or Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs ending up in that role.

I tend to come down in the camp that suspects that being a bestselling author has some detrimental effect on whether or not a book gets one of the awards. I don't think it's so much whether a popular book can win the Pulitzer, that's happened a lot. My understanding is that Allen Drury's Advise and Consent and Robert Penn Warren's All The Kings Men were both huge bestsellers by the time they won, as was, more recently, Chabon's Amazing Adventures. But, with someone like John Irving, who is clearly read by a wide arrange of people and whose books sell millions of copies each, I think that doesn't work in his favor. I haven't read Last Night in Twisted River yet, so it may just be a lousy book, but it's sure not showing up on any of the award or recognition lists. It's true he's been nominated for the NBA twice, for Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, but Garp actually won the NBA when they were also making an award for the best first paperback appearance of a book. In 1978, when Garp was published in Hardcover, it wasn't nominated (Mary Lee Settle won that year for Blood Tie, James Alan McPherson's Elbow Room, which won the Pulitzer for that year, was an NBA finalist). Personally, I think his best book was A Prayer for Owen Meany followed closely by Cider House Rules, neither of which was nominated for anything. By then, I would suspect, he was too much of a bestseller. I will say, though, that although I've liked all of his books, I don't think any of his more recent books were as good as Prayer for Owen Meany or Cider House Rules, but of course, that's just my opinion. I actually have high hopes that Twisted River is one of his books that I'll really like, the plot sounded good. In an interview as Twisted River was released, Irving mentioned that he writes the last line of his book first, and works back from there, something I've not heard of anyone else doing!
Mike
March 7, 2010, 2:13 pm
By the way, if any New Yorkers out there want to go to the NBCC awards ceremony, here's the info:

Announcement of the 2009 NBCC Award winners will take place at 6:00 p.m. in The New School University’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St., New York City. The event is free and open to the public.

The NBCC awards reception at 8:00 p.m. will be at 55 West 13th Street New York, NY, but requires a ticket, that can be purchased online at http://bookcritics.org/calendar/.

In addition to the award announcements, Joyce Carol Oates will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award that night. If anyone goes, post the winners here for those of us who are in the Great Plains and far away from the Big Apple! Although the NBA uses Twitter to provide a live feed of their award ceremonies, NBCC doesn't use any form of live transmission of results and it can take a day or so for it to show up on the website. They've got a Facebook page now, though, so maybe they'll get the information posted there sooner.

I'm betting on Lark and Termite to win the NBCC, though Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which won the Man Booker prize this year, is a strong candidate (unlike the NBA and Pulitzer, the NBCC can go to any book published in English in the year in question, not just US Citizens).
Kris
March 7, 2010, 2:52 pm
After reading through some of the recent posts, I picked up on an interesting theme or, if you'd prefer, literary question: Are we ready to acknowledge the cultural value of post-911 literature, particular through our country's most prestigious narrative awards? Questions like this are gaining traction in Departments of English and American Studies, and not without merit, I think. While such departments often shun the concept of literary awards (Alice Sebold's introduction to the 2009 edition of "Best American Short Stories" makes a compelling, and hilarious, case for this), more general questions about the recalibration or reconceptualization through American literature of 9-11 with regard to trauma, (in)security, alterity, etc. are certainly worth posing.

As indicated in previous posts, numerous works have attempted to grapple with that event, including Don Delillo's "Falling Man," John Updike's "Terrorist," and Andre Dubus III's "The Garden of Last Days," just to name a few. No post-9/11 work has been awarded the pulitzer, to date, which makes this year particularly interesting, since some strong contenders fall into that category. "My Father's Tears" contains the story "Variations of Religious Experience," a story about how religion influences one's perspective, narrated by multiple individuals affected by the event. "Let the Great World Spin" has been called the first great 9/11 novel (and a "humane corrective" to Delillo's "Falling Man"). Finally, my dark horse candidate, Lorrie Moore's "A Gate At the Stairs," unfolds in the shadow of 9/11, encompassing (or working through) the social constructions that grafted themselves upon the American landscape in the final months of 2001.

All of this begs a simple question: Is it still to soon? Is 9/11 still too conceptually difficult to narrate? I don't think so, as evidenced by the impressive array of this year's talent. Perhaps the better question is about the significance of the Pulitzer Prize, itself: What would the awarding of America's most prestigious and best-known literary prize to a post-9/11 work mean, both for the prizes and the American cultural consciousness?

Anyway, I've been lurking on this site for a while. Love it! Hope my humble contribution is worthy of the excellent discussions being held here.
brak
March 7, 2010, 3:53 pm
Well, the people at the book store said "only her new book--no old books" but then she signed old books when people brought them. So, dammit if I didn't learn my lesson the hard way. Bring whatever you want signed--worst case scenario is that they say no.
brak
March 7, 2010, 4:30 pm
I thought "Let the Great World Spin" was a good novel. It is haunted, in some ways, by the film "Crash", though it has none of the moral overtones of that film--and it is also saved from being at all gimmicky by the fact that, frankly, it is set in New York...and honestly, if you want a New York book to breathe properly, it really is appropriate to show how connected and different everyone who lives there is. I think McCann does a good job of not really stretching things either--he brings in these different people and yet I never thought he went too far. The characters' lives unfold naturally.
Curtis Cole
March 7, 2010, 9:49 pm
I'm betting on either Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann or Phillip Roth's The Humbling. I haven't read The Humbling yet, although the plot sounds good and Roth is a perrenial Pulitzer contender.
paul
March 7, 2010, 9:55 pm
I have been collecting books for about ten years and I collect Pulitzer Prize winning novels as well. I also am an avid reader with the goal of not only reading every book that has won this award, but I would like to have an original first printing copy of every book that has won the Pulitzer. As of right now, I have about 2/3 of the books. The scarcest of these books that I own would probably be Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge. I enjoyed reading Empiere Falls and The Amazing Adventures of kavilier and Clay too.There are too many others that I enjoyed to name, but off the top of my head I really liked The Road, Lonesome Dove, The Grapes of Wrath and Journey in the Dark. I've enjoyed most of the contempary Pulitzer Prize winning books and many of the classics, but I have noticed that many of the older winning books are very dry and difficult to get into.
Mike
March 11, 2010, 7:01 pm
Okay, so just announced (thanks Twitter), Hilary Mantel wins the National Book Critic's Circle award for Wolf Hall. Doesn't do much for predicting the Pulitzer, as Mantel is a British citizen and the book's not eligible for the Pulitzer.
Mike
March 11, 2010, 7:10 pm
And, another bit of award news:

BOSTON, MA – PEN New England today announced that Brigid Pasulka has won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The two Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalists are C. E. Morgan for All the Living (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Abraham Verghese for Cutting for Stone (Knopf). Two writers will receive honorable mention: Mary Beth Keane for The Walking People (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Lydia Peelle for Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing (HarperCollins).

The winner, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, seems an unlikley Pulitzer candidate, as its set in Poland during WWII and in contemporary times. Among the finalists, Verghese's Cutting for Stone received a lot of buzz during the year, again, seems an unlikely Pulitzer book, set mainly in Addis Ababa, but eventually the story makes its way to NYC, so not impossible.

The PEN/Hemingway is awarded for a distinguished book of first fiction. Past winners have included Jhumpa Lahari (for Maladies), Ha Jin (for Ocean of Words), Edward P. Jones (for Lost in the City), and Marilnne Robinson (for Housekeeping).
eric
March 15, 2010, 12:43 am
i have a couple of Shadow Country firsts, but fear I will never get one signed. Very few available on ABE since it won. Have asked a few collectors, who think that the three original books are more collectible, but I don't know.
eric
March 15, 2010, 1:22 am
By the way, i have enjoyed reading everyone's speculation on the PP. There aren't enough websites where I see these kind of discussions, but then again, if there were, I'd never get anything done. I too am an avid first edition collector and loved reading these posts and of course this site in general is terrific. Will check back soon.
brak
March 15, 2010, 6:46 pm
Not on the list, but does anyone know anything about Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories? I asked my library to get a copy (and it's on order)....not a contender on this prediction list, but a pen faulkner finalist...if it won the pen faulkner, would that actually earn it a spot on the prediction list?
Mike
March 15, 2010, 8:35 pm
I don't know anything about Homicide Survivors Picnic other than the author is on the faculty at Vanderbilt University, but actually winning the PEN/Faulkner wouldn't boost it up on the prediction list. Winning the PEN/Faulkner is not a significant contributor to the prediction model, in large measure because only 2 previous PEN/Faulkner winners have gone on to win the Pulitzer (Independence Day, The Hours), so it hasn't happened often enough to be a good predictor. Being nominated for the PEN/Faulkner is a predictor variable, though. Homicide Survivor's not going to make the top 15 list because it's PEN/Faulkner nomination was it's only appearance on any award list or on any "Best of 2009" list. That is, of course, not to say it can't or won't win, it's just to say it's not goint to get enough points to make the list!
brak
March 15, 2010, 9:30 pm
Not that it's terribly important--and, hell, perhaps I have stated it here before--but I thought "The Hours" to be inferior to the two finalists it was up against (for the pulitzer). (That being said, "The Hours" is a very well-made film--especially considering the fact that it's a fairly difficult book to translate to that medium.
But that's off-topic. I'll be curious to read Homicide Survivors Picnic, though. I always think it's pretty awesome (though difficult for those among us who try to collect first editions) when a relatively little-known author--or a relatively small print run--gets nominated against the big, established names.
Ronald
March 17, 2010, 8:54 pm
There's a new author, William C. Pack, who wrote The Bottom of the Sky. This book might be a dark horse, but it was one of the finalists in the National Best Book 2009 awards, and every review I read on it is blown away at his skill and the timeliness of the story. I just finished the book, and I have to agree. This guy came out of nowhere, but he is fantiastic.
brak
March 18, 2010, 3:55 pm
I just got "American Salvage" from the library. I have only read the first story, but I was really impressed--started the second story and got the same feeling. This could be a contender, I guess!
Mike
March 18, 2010, 4:19 pm
Agreed. I noticed as well that Daniyal Mueenuddin, whose book In Other Rooms, Other Wonders was an NBA finalist, received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, so along with the fact that that book won the Story Prize, I think it's a contender as well.
Mike
March 19, 2010, 9:32 am
I went ahead and bought first edition copies of the three original books, but in my opinion, the more collectible book is Shadow Country itself. Matthiessen was at the Miami Book Fair last year signing, so he does sign every now and again, so we can hold out hope to get our copies signed!
Mike
March 19, 2010, 9:35 am
I'm going back and reading the Pulitzer winner's as well, though haven't gotten back to the really early ones, which I think will be harder to get through! I just finished Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, and liked it more than I thought I would. I'm with ou on Empire Falls and Amazing Adventures as well as the others you've listed. I've seen Laughing Boy a couple of times, but always without a dust jacket, so I'm holding on until I see a nicer copy.
CJSkelley
March 19, 2010, 10:18 am
I've read 15 Pulitzer Prize winners (even the old ones, "So Big" "Alice Adams" for example) and am avidly collecting them all. I happen to be reading "The Women" by TC Boyle; a story about Frank Lloyd Wright and his dramatic love life and architecture. Published in 2009, it just feels like I'm reading a Pulitzer book. It's very American geographically, what with FLW's influence from coast to coast and you can't get much more American the FLW himself. I don't know all the politics of the Pulitzer or the rhythm of other awards leading up to it (like the Golden Globes predicting the Oscars) but I'm going to put this out there, because if this novel even gets nominated, I will be delighted with myself.
Mike
March 19, 2010, 3:13 pm
The book description sounds interesting, and Pack's background is really interesting and sounds like it parallels, to some degree, the novel's plot! I'll have to look this up.
brak
March 19, 2010, 3:38 pm
I think Irving suffers from the fact that his books are, in many ways, realism, but his characters are often caricatures--even Owen Meany, which is a WONDERFUL novel is full of caricatures. I think he suffers from such things, personally. I know someone who read "Twisted River" and by about 3/4 of the way through, he said he just wanted it to be over...which...isn't a good sign. I did not enjoy "The Fourth Hand" very much either....
Mike
March 19, 2010, 3:38 pm
Good question, and I agree with you that it's not too soon or difficult to narrate. My favorite 9/11 book to date was A Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus, which was a 2006 NBA finalist. As you note, McCann's Let the Great World Spin was hailed by Esquire magazine as the first great 9/11 novel. As evidenced by the fact that Vietnam War and and Civil War novels still win awards (Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (Vietnam, NBA winner) and March by Geraldine Brookes (Civil War, Pulitzer) to name but two recent winners), I'd think that 9/11 novels will be with us for a while and one or more will almost certainly win a Pulitzer... if not this year, I'd think in the not-too-distant future. I haven't read Lorrie Moore's book, but it's getting rave reviews and it's on my "read soon" list.
brak
March 19, 2010, 3:57 pm
I don't think it is too soon either, though in some ways the consequences of that moment are still playing out. "The Plot Against America" was in many ways about those consequences--the fear that was a direct consequence of fictitious decisions by a fictitious administration during WWII--and used a historical narrative to illuminate the more recent events. I think the reason that these books achieve more success than, say, "Falling Man"--which I admittedly have not yet read--is that they use historical parallels to try to offer us a perspective on today. They attempt to provide a distance, a remove, from what still feels so immediate.
brak
March 19, 2010, 4:01 pm
The Humbling is pretty good--it is typical Roth--but it is a simple book and is easily one of the weakest books featured on this list. I don't think it's going to even be a finalist. Colum McCann has a shot, though as I slowly make my way through the others, I'm beginning to think that, while his book may be a finalist, it won't win.
I'm think "Lark and Termite" is probably the most likely or "The Lacuna". And as I read "American Salvage", I could see it being something of a dark horse candidate. I'm enjoying it a lot so far.
Mike
March 19, 2010, 5:16 pm
I'm going to have to re-read Falling Man, mainly because I didn't think it was as awful as the reviewers' made it out to be when I read it the first time! I read it, though, at the same time I read Kalfus's Disorder Peculiar to the Country and another 9/11 book that I forgot to mention but really liked, Jess Walter's The Zero, which like Disorder Peculiar, was an NBA finalist in 2006. Some of the plot elements of Falling Man and Disorder, are similar (disintigrating marriages in the aftermath of the events of 9/11), and perhaps my memory of the book is conflated with the other two. I did like the "performance artist" element in Falling Man, and I think it's pretty bizarre that both Falling Man and Let the Great World Spin used, as a central frame, a performance artist/event. I do, however, treasure my copy of Falling Man. My brother mailed a copy (with self-addressed, stamped envelope) to Delillo's publisher with a request for it to be signed to me, and it came back inscribed (on the ffep) "To Mike, That Day in September, Don DeLillo, September 15, 2008". I thought it was pretty generous of him to personalize and inscribe it, many authors won't even send the book back!

Another 9/11 themed book we should mention was Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award last year. When I first started reading Let the Great World Spin, I was reminded of Netherland, though as the book moves along, the similarities diminish. Truthfully, I tend not to be as discriminating as some folks, and I liked all of these!
brak
March 19, 2010, 6:01 pm
I keep starting "Netherland" and then putting it down after 20 pages, despite being captivated! I think subconsciously I'm saving it for some reason. It is so rad that Delillo returned your book--he is a wonderful author, I think. Perhaps I should try sending "Underworld" his way. I really loved the book--never read anything quite like it.
Mike
March 19, 2010, 7:29 pm
Boyle's "The Women" was one I was watching as well, both because I like his work (Drop City is my favorite) but also, as you note, because it seemed a particularly American theme. That said, the book didn't make the NY Times Notable books list or the American Library Associations best books list, nor did it get nominated for anything. By virtue solely of the fact that Boyle won the PEN/Faulkner award for World's End, The Women ended up 50th on this year's list. Again, though, that's not to say it won't or can't win, just that it would be unexpected. It is one of several books I thought early on would get more recognition as the awards and finalists were announced... including Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor (which did finally get a PEN/Faulkner nomination), Invisible by Paul Auster, Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving, Trouble by Kate Christiensen, and Big Machine by Victor LaValle, to name a few. I'd be glad to see Boyle win, though; because most of his books are pretty widely available and he's a frequent signer, I've been able to get almost all of his books in the hope that he'll win one day!
Mike
March 19, 2010, 7:45 pm
Netherland started a bit slow, and I can't say it ever really picked up, per se, but it's sort of bizarre enough (cricket in NYC) and I liked the characters that it hooked me. I heard Joseph O'Neill speak last year and he was saying that he was half way through the book and realized it wasn't going anywhere, it didn't really have a plot, but then he read something (I can't remember what it was, my recollection is that it was something by Saul Bellow) that reminded him that novels don't have to really have to have a plot, they just have to keep moving (or something to that extent).

I have started Underworld a couple of times and then didn't get back to it, mainly because of its heft, not that I didn't like it. I need to just buckle down and read it!
Tim Burns
March 22, 2010, 1:59 pm
I like your list of predictions. Here's mine in reverse order (think Letterman's countdown)
TheAnthologist by Nicholson Baker.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The Lacuna by Barbara Kinsolver
Spooner by Pete Dexter
A Gate At the Top of the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
My Winner
Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
eric b
March 23, 2010, 1:47 am
interesting--the Humbling got terrible reviews at least in the NY Times if i remember correctly--so bad i decided not to collect or read it which rarely happens!
American Salvage is one of my favorites of the year; for some reason I couldn't get too far into Lark and Termite. I enjoyed Let the great world spin, but not as much as American Salvage. As for other possible contenders I have read (and usually really like), I am lukewarm on Richard Power's latest (plus he doesn't sign!) and, even having met Jonathan Lethem this year, don't think Chronic City is his best work. I was quite impacted by Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed, and he was shortlisted for the NBA, so perhaps that's a dark horse in this discussion.
eric b
March 23, 2010, 1:50 am
I too am fascinated by the Homicide Survivors Picnic. But mainly because it's a small print run and tough to find copies. I hate to say I hope that it doesn't win anything. That is, unless I come across a first printing...
eric b
March 23, 2010, 1:54 am
it just seems odd to me that even unsigned firsts of Shadow Country are rarely for sale. Perhaps dealers are waiting to get them signed too. As I said, I found two--one nice used for 15 bucks right after I spent the 40 bucks or so on a new one I found. I have 2 of the 3 originals too, but those were easy to find. I guess I tend to get obsessed with my "want list." The first book of the novel is excellent. I am saving the rest for a rainy day.
Mike
March 23, 2010, 10:14 pm
I saw Lethem at the Texas book festival, and he was a generous signer and conversed more than many authors do, but Chronic City is one of those on my "to be read" list. Interesting you liked The Unnamed, it most of the reviewers seems to think he suffered from the Sophomore jinx ... though I haven't read it yet (my "to be read" is too long!), but will. It was, however, a January 2010 publication, so won't be eligible for this year's Pulitzer, but next year's instead. Next year could be interesting... I'd give Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag an edge in the buzz category now, and as Tom mentions in the blurb preceding the list, Anne Tyler's Noah's Compass is being counted as a 2010 publicaiton, so that's one to watch, but I'm guessing that Jonathan Franzen's new book, to be published in the Fall and titled "Freedom" will be the most anticipated of the year.

American Salvage is the next book I'm reading ... I need to finish the last bit of Robert Olen Butler's Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, but I'm going to try to have American Salvage read before April 12, just in case it wins.
Mike
March 23, 2010, 10:17 pm
By the way, Boyle has another short story collection coming out in 2010 ... titled Wild Child. I have an ARC of it, read through the title story and liked it a lot, but will hold off reading the rest of them until later.
Mike
March 23, 2010, 10:21 pm
Speaking of Homicide Survivors Picnic (well, we had a thread on it earlier), the PEN/Faulkner winner was announced today:

From the PEN/Faulkner website (http://www.penfaulkner.org): Sherman Alexie's War Dances (Grove Press) has been selected as the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The announcement was made today by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Susan Richards Shreve and Robert Stone, Co-Chairmen.

The other finalists were Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna, Lorraine M. Lopez for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs, and Colson Whitehead for Sag Harbor. I was sorta rooting for Sag Harbor, though I think Alexie's War Dances was another book that I thought would get a lot more attention in the award season, though I guess winning the PEN/Faulkner pretty much would make the book a success, award-wise!

Mike
March 23, 2010, 10:25 pm
I'm with ya... I've not found even a whif of a copy of Homicide Survivors Picnic.
Kris
March 24, 2010, 10:27 am
I was pulling for Lorrie Moore's "A Gate at the Stairs," personally, though I'm a big fan of Alexie's work and was pleased by his recognition. To be honest, I thought Barbara Kingsolver was such a heavy favorite for this year's Pen/Faulkner that the selection of any of the other nominees could be considered a literary "upset."

On different note, I'm curious about the final placement of a couple of books on this year's list. You mentioned, earlier, that T.C. Boyle's "The Women" ranked 50th - what were the final placements for "Little Bird of Heaven" by Joyce Carol Oates and "The Anthologist" by Nicholson Baker? I know that the latter was noted on several top-10 lists, while the former received a lot of positive press, despite the consistent referrals to Oates' totalizing verisimilitude and melodramatic pathos. Oates is well-represented on this year's list by "Dear Husband," which I haven't read. Just wondering about the others. Oh, one more kitschy question: What was book no.16, the one that just missed the cut? :)
eric b
March 24, 2010, 12:17 pm
Thanks for the info! Wow for some reason I had that marked on my calender for tomorrow. Luckily, I ordered a signed first last week of the Alexie book which hopefully I will get soon. I love it when I guess right. But I can't imagine it's better than Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs which I am reading now.
eric b
March 24, 2010, 12:32 pm
ah yes that's right, Ferris' book is 2010. Never too early, I guess. I hope you enjoy American Salvage; in terms of the writing i would say it's one of the best of this year's contenders that I have read.
Mike
March 25, 2010, 2:13 pm
Actually, I see from my trip to my independent book seller this morning that Wild Child is already out.
Mike
March 25, 2010, 2:39 pm
In fact, #16 was Joyce Carol Oates Little Bird of Heaven! Here are the second 15, in order from 15 to 30:

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
Blame by Michelle Huneven
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
Far North by Marcel Theroux
Await your Reply by Dan Chaon
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
Don't Cry: Stories by Mary Gaitskill
One D.O.A., One on the Way by Mary Robison
Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Follow Me by Joanna Scott
Love and Obstacles: Stories by Aleksandar Hemon
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Invisible by Paul Auster

Baker was, let's see, 21st. This year's regression analysis had 36 predictor varibles entered, of which 14 contributed significantly to the eventual model. So basically, once you get past these 30 books, everything else just got points for being in the NY Times top 100 list or the author had some former nomination or award, but the spread, pointwise, between about #32 and the last book, #87, is pretty narrow and not very informative.
Tom
March 29, 2010, 7:15 am
We put both Joyce Carol Oates' books as number 15 - Dear Husband or Little Bird of Heaven. I personally feel that Dear Husband has the edge because it is a collection of previously published stories. This type of book is always a good way to pay tribute to a long-time great author.
Mike
March 29, 2010, 7:51 am
We elevated Little Bird of Heaven to a tie with Dear Husband, they actually have the same number of "points" in the ranking. Since neither of the books made any end of year "best of lists" nor were nominated for any awards, all of those points are based upon Oates' previous awards or award nominations, so #15 could really just be "Any book Joyce Carol Oates published in 2009!" Not the same, though, for Updike, who also has two horses in the race, since My Father's Tears did make the NY Times Best Books of 2009, while The Humbling did not.
Mike
March 30, 2010, 5:41 pm
And a bit of news today about Colum McCann:

(From the National Book Foundation): Colum McCann, the 2009 National Book Award Winner for Fiction, apparently has some more work up his sleeve. According to GalleyCat, a blog on Mediabistro.com, McCann has sold two new novels to Random House, one of which is inspired in part by a Wallace Stevens poem.

And, from GalleyCat: "The first novel, tentatively titled THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING, explores a murder from multiple points of view, and is in part inspired by the Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."
brak
March 31, 2010, 12:58 pm
Okay, I'm going to lay down what I think the final three will be--based on hype, what I've read , I am inclined to think it may just be three women again...

I can't help but think "Lark and Termite" will win the pulitzer. The likely finalists, to my mind, are The Lacuna and A Gate at the Stairs--that's three big names, no dark horse candidates, and all women again--I would like to think that Colson Whitehead has a shot, and while I enjoy his work sometimes, I've never been a huge fan of Sherman Alexie (not sure I can put my finger on why exactly). We could all be very surprised (and I actually prefer it when a finalist is someone new, allowing me to discover an author--even if it is along with the rest of the world--and I've been hunting for a copy of "Homicide Survivors Picnic" with no success). As I continued reading American Salvage, I decided that it probably isn't strong enough to win. The first story is masterful, but while the rest of the work is enjoyable, it began to feel a bit too derivative of Flannery O'Connor to me--and a less talented O'Connor at that.
Mike
March 31, 2010, 6:29 pm
I'm going to hold off before committing myself to three, mainly because I'm finishing American Salvage now and I'm just into A Gate at the Stairs, so I want to get through that before I commit myself! All things considered, though, Lark and Termite seems to me to be the prohibitive favorite. I haven't read The Lacuna yet, did you? Thoughts? I agree about American Salvage... I'm about 3/4 through, and the more I read, the less it feels like a Pulitzer book... though that's a subjective judgment, I know. Sort of unrelenting and I'm not all that enamored with many of the characters. It reminded me of a book that I liked much more, Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (which, I understand, has been made into a movie that won the Sundance festival, or at least finished high). It's set in the Ozarks, so characters in similar situations of poverty, lack of education, and meth ... but I think Woodrell does a good job of bringing out some of the humanity in his characters, and I'm not feeling that as much with American Salvage. That said, it's a very good book, and I understand why it's gotten the attention it has... and Woodrell has a whole novel to develop those characters while Campbell is working in short stories. In any case, I want to finish A Gate at the Stairs before I'm forced to actually make a decision!
Kris
April 1, 2010, 3:55 am
Alright, I'll go out on a limb and predict three finalists, as well: "Lark and Termite" by Jayne Phillips, "A Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore and "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann, assuming McCann is an American citizen or possess dual U.S.-Ireland citizenship - did you ever resolve that question? If a lack of citizenship disqualifies McCann, my third selection would E.L. Doctorow's "Homer & Langley," not because I, personally, would choose his work over the others, necessarily, but because he's been repeatedly nominated for the Pulitzer without winning and his entry, this year, is a quintessentially American allegory.
Mike
April 2, 2010, 9:37 am
Okay, I think I’m ready to take the plunge and pick my winner and finalists. Lark & Termite seems to me to still be the prohibitive favorite, and just that makes me a bit nervous about picking it. In comparing the pre-Pulitzer performance of the most recent “clear favorite” winner, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, with Lark & Termite, both were NY Times top 100 books, both were NBCC fiction nominees (though Oscar won while Lark & Termite did not), Oscar was an LA Times Fiction finalist while Lark & Termite was not, but Lark & Termite was an NBA finalist while Oscar was not. Plus Jayne Anne Phillips was a former NBCC fiction finalist, while Diaz had not been. So, seems to me Lark & Termite’s credentials are every bit as strong as Oscar Wao, so I’m going to go with it for the win. Plus, unlike the NBCC or NBA awards, the Pulitzer states that the award will go to distinguished fiction by an American Author (the NBCC doesn’t even require it be an American author), “preferably dealing with American life.“ Lark & Termite (which I have read) feels more like Pulitzer book to me than does The Lacuna (which I haven’t read, but have scoped out reviews), and to some degree than does McCann’s Let the Great World Spin (which I’ve also read), both of which seem like strong candidates. American Salvage (just finished it) certainly fits that bill, but in the end, I just don’t think it’s as well written as Lark & Termite. Same with Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs. So, I’m going with Jayne Anne Phillips and Lark & Termite for the win. As for finalists, I’m going with McCann’s Let the Great World Spin (and since the NBA goes to a U.S. Citizen, I’m sure he must hold a U.S. Citizenship and thus must be eligible for the Pulitzer), and since I think there’s usually one outlier in the finalists and often short story collections, I was going to go with Daniyal Mueenuddin’s “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders”, which was an NBA finalist and won the Story Prize, but that’s set in Pakistan and isn’t about American life (although, certainly, the Pulitzer committee selects books that don’t meet the “about American Life” preference), so I think I’ll go with American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell. .
brak
April 2, 2010, 4:50 pm
It definitely could be "Let the Great World Spin"--it's a really good novel, though for some reason I don't feel like it will stick with me (like "Underworld" did). "American Salvage" has potential, certainly, but I just feel like there are parts that feel forced--"The Burn" stands out to me as a story that makes an awkward shift toward religion. The reason I think "The Lacuna" has a good chance is that it is one of those novels that sprawls across history--I have not yet read it, but Kingsolver is a wonderful novelist and it would not surprise me in the least if she were to be in the top contenders.
I'm hoping at least one short story collection makes it into the top three. GETTING CLOSE TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT!
Lakeview Reader Guy
April 10, 2010, 4:20 pm
Though not as virtuoso a performance as his earlier, wonderful, and celebrated "You Are Not a Stranger Here," Adam Haslett's "Union Atlantic" could be a contender. Also -- though I've yet to finish it -- just the first chapter of "The Privileges" by Jonathan Dee speaks to the superlative intelligence and linguistic talents of its author.
Lakeview Reader Guy
April 10, 2010, 4:23 pm
I just realized that both my suggestions were 2010 publications and therefore eligible for the 2011 award.
brak
April 10, 2010, 9:31 pm
I am currently IN nashville and spend a lot of time near Vanderbilt Univ. and even I cannot find a copy here. Tough one--the copy on sale at Amazon says it is a first edition. I have a couple more thoughts about where I might be able to find a copy locally, but alas, so far, no luck. I'll let everyone know if I happen to find the mother load--but don't count on it. In the meantime, any thoughts on the copies available through Amazon?
April 11, 2010, 7:05 am
I'll throw my hat into the ring for "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders" by Daniyal Mueenuddin. It's a collection of stories, and they usually don't win (though "Olive Kitteridge" did in 2009), but what an incredible book and fantastic debut.
April 11, 2010, 11:56 am
It's actually published by the University of Missouri in Kansas City press, and I'm in the KC area and haven't found one, though I keep intending to go to the UMKC bookstore and see if htey carry it. As for the Amazon copy... hard to tell ... I would think that there would have been an upsurge in purchases following the nomination. When the same thing happened with American Salvage, I ordered a new copy from Amazon and it was already a 3rd printing. On the other thing, if it's a first and if it wins ... $16.95 will be the bargain of the year!
Mike
April 11, 2010, 11:57 am
Good information to have, though! I'm not familiar with either author, so will put them on my 2010 reading lists.
brak
April 11, 2010, 7:38 pm
I have heard a lot about these books together--in fact, the newyorker reviewed them and compared them (in the same review). Cool to hear you read them both.
Tom
April 12, 2010, 1:24 pm
As the winner, I'll go with my original pick: Lark & Termite.
For finalists:
- American Salvage - The Lacuna
My gut is saying Barbara Kingsolver. I'm resisting this, and so I included her as a finalist...
Mr. Benchly
April 12, 2010, 1:46 pm
I can't wait! And to bide my time, I'm going to make some predictions as well:
Finalists: - Lark & Termite - In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Winner: - Homer & Langley
brak
April 12, 2010, 2:04 pm
wow. all surprises!
brak
April 12, 2010, 2:06 pm
congratulations!!!!! you are the only person who called that...that's fantastic!
eric b
April 12, 2010, 2:11 pm
I'm ready to make my predictions! ;)
"Tinkers," by Paul Harding. I have a couple of copies of the softback and I have this board to thank, as I think someone posted a recommendation earlier and I decided to hunt it down. I am very grateful for the tip. ABE says the hardcover first printing was only 500 copies.
Finalists Lydia Millet Title: Love in Infant Monkeys This one I have not seen anywhere.
“In Other Rooms, Other Wonders,” by Daniyal Mueenuddin
Are there usually only 3 finalists? I can't remember.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 2:13 pm
Wow is right. Paul Harding for Tinkers. Someone identified this early in the discussion... In Other Rooms, Other Wonders as a finalist and Love in Infant Monkeys, by Lydia Millet as the other finalist. Tinkers was in the regression model, came out 33rd... the only nomination or mention it got through the other award/lists was that it made the American Library Association's notable books for the year. Now I have to go find a copy!
brak
April 12, 2010, 2:26 pm
seriously! i congratulated tara who suggested it early on the first page. that's a great prediction--i just bought cheap copies on half.com--not first editions necessarily, but something to read.
brak
April 12, 2010, 2:28 pm
It is also worth telling you that, while you are trying to help predict possible outcomes in an attempt to potentially aid people in picking up first editions (and while I collect some first editions and many signed books), you guys provide an awesome service regardless of your list's accuracy. I truly enjoy having a forum for speculation, which both stimulates discussion and also introduces me to new and extremely talented authors. I was not entirely aware of Jayne Anne Phillips until this year, and she is easily one of the best writers I have come across in a long time. So thank you!
brak
April 12, 2010, 2:30 pm
(I do not mean, by the way, to impugn the accuracy of the prediction list--it has yielded great results in the past--I merely mean to say that I enjoy how much conversation it provides, regardless of the outcome!)
Tim Burns
April 12, 2010, 2:59 pm
I am really bummed! I had Tinkers by Paul Harding at home - read a bit and liked it but eventually returned it to the library - I was reading Spooner and The Lacunda... I had to make a decision on what to read. I did read In Other Rooms... I disregarded it because I wasn't sure the author was American. I didn't have any of the titles on my list! This is the worst prediction I have ever had. But I am encouraged that the Pulitzer Judges were really open to different genres and authors.
Quilter
April 12, 2010, 3:44 pm
All I can find is a first paperback, but I see only two hardbacks on ABE. Which came first?

Strange this book won because Olive Kitteridge was placed in Maine too. Stranger still I just saw Tinkers by Paul Harding listed on the New Yorker's favorites list from 2009 this very morning. It was an omen.
Tom
April 12, 2010, 3:44 pm
Wow. I was not expecting that one. Nice call Tara. I hope you are on the mailing list and I hope you chime in next year!
Kris
April 12, 2010, 4:10 pm
Maybe we should've seen this coming...? According to a web(log)site run by Bellevue Literary Press, "Tinkers" was named one of the best debuts of the year by an army of organizations - including the San Francisco Chronicle, Publisher's Weekly, NPR and the New Yorker - and was nominated for the L.A. Times Award for First Fiction (Art Seidenbaum Award). None of the major book awards recognize "first fiction" as a singular category, obviously, but this work, like "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders," was acclaimed by those who DO recognize such a category. So, here are a couple of interesting questions: First, when was the last time a debut novel won the Pulitzer and second, when was the last time multiple debut novels were nominated in the same year?
Mike
April 12, 2010, 4:32 pm
Nah, no impugning taken! This was one of those years when a relative outsider, first novel won, and there's really no way to predict those ... aka Jhumpa Lahari's Interpreter of Maladies, which if I recall correctly also appeared on the ALA list but nowhere else. I agree about the conversation, I hate to see the awards season wrap up, but next year looks like a good one... already strong books by Louise Erdrich and others, plus a new Jonathan Franzen novel!
Mike
April 12, 2010, 4:40 pm
Well, in hindsight there were indicators, but really, first novels so rarely win the Pulitzer (somewhere earlier there's a thread on this), that even going by the first novel awards doesn't do much good. It's appearance on the ALA list was the only strong predictor. I typically buy the book that wins the PEN/Hemingway award, though, which is for first novels, because quite a few PEN/Hemingway winners have shown up as NBA or Pulitzer winners.

Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a book of short stories... so a first book. Lahari won for her first book, Interpreter of Maladies Last "first novel" to win? Actually, 2007 ... The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz was a first novel, though not a first book. Before that... A Confederacy of Dunces (1980), which was a first book and a first novel, so that was the list time a first book/first novel won!
Mike
April 12, 2010, 4:50 pm
Determining what the true first edition for Tinkers is might be a trick. The Bellevue Literary Press site lists it as a trade paperback original. The copyright page lists a hardback version apparently published simultaneously. My wife's aunt is an online book dealer who had a number of the trade PBs signed by Harding, and she indicated that Harding said that the trade PB was the true first, but there was a hardback edition issued in limited quantities, all signed, some numbered or all numbered, not sure. There were several listed online, but they were snapped up immediatly. Maybe someone who beat us to those signed editions could post some informatoin! I am hoping the PB is the true first... I found one of those.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 4:52 pm
And just to note, I think the finalist "Love in Infant Monkeys" by Lydia Millet is also a paperback original.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 5:01 pm
And, speaking of the performance of the model... Tinkers was actually tied for 28th in the analysis, taking into account ties. Other Rooms, Other Worlds was, of course 10th, and Lydia Millet's Love in Infant Monkeys was in the analysis, but didn't get any points.
Quilter
April 12, 2010, 5:19 pm
The New York Times missed the boat too:

http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/the-one-that-got-away/
Tom
April 12, 2010, 5:43 pm
I confirmed with the publisher, and both were issued simultaneously. But the hardcover was limited and much more rare. I just finished putting the page up.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 6:07 pm
Okay, some information on at least one hardcover version (not sure if it's the only hardcover version). Tinkers was one of the signed, limited edition books distributed in the Powell's Books (in Portland, OR) "Indiespensable" series. The Indiespensable series is a subscription only, book every couple of months club. There were apparently 750 of those published. I have a copy of the Indiespensable version of Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag, and it looks just like the trade first edition, except has a tipped in page for signature (same as publisher's signed tipped in version) plus a tipped in page stating the number of the book. It's also in a slipcase. In other books, though, they do a unique volume. For example, the current offering, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, So, the question is whether the paperback was released before the Powells version... though I'm betting they were simultaneous and that the Powell's version is the same as the paperback but in hardcover and in a slipcase with a tipped in signature page.
Tom
April 12, 2010, 6:11 pm
The publisher confirmed with me that they were both issued simultaneous. So they are both first editions. However I think it is safe to say that the hardcover is more desirable, and thus more valuable.
Tom
April 12, 2010, 6:36 pm
I put up a 2011 prediction page in case we want to start early...
Mike
April 12, 2010, 6:38 pm
No doubt! I wonder how many PB versions were printed?
Kris
April 12, 2010, 7:01 pm
Sorry, I meant to ask when the last time a first 'book' won, not first novel. Thank you kindly for answering both questions! On the NYT blog mentioned below, Gregory Cowles mentioned that "Tinkers" is the first novel from a small press to win since "A Confederacy of Dunces" in 1981, which makes me more excited about this year's selection. I hate to see small presses snubbed because of their limited means, while books published by larger houses are deemed more 'worthy' simply because they have a bigger run. Put differently, I don't believe in the capitalization of cultural normativity - when I read columns deriding literary awards as irrelevant because nominated works aren't bestsellers, I get pretty irked.

With regard to your model, is there a way to aggregate first books that appear on multiple 'best debut' lists, select the top two or three and, finally, assign THAT a value? So, instead of using all of the 'best debut' lists as indicator variables, you'd be assigning a variable to just those that are nominated for the major 'best debut' prizes (i.e., the L.A. Times award) and show up on prominent 'best debut' lists (i.e., the San Francisco Chronicle or New Yorker's)...? Kind of a rough idea. I'm not certain exactly how your predictor model works, too, so I could be off-base from the start. Hope I'm not being offensive!

By the way, I want to second a comment made earlier about your site: Thanks for providing a forum for discussion of great modern literature. In the classroom, many students are familiar with the putative American literary canon - Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Twain, etc. - but have only a passing knowledge of contemporary works. Glad to see you're helping to rectify that problem!
P
April 12, 2010, 8:08 pm
Maybe if John Irving wasn't a dreadful writer he would already have been recognized. This isn't some kind of literary affirmative action, where the talentless and insipid are given their 'dues;' it's meant to be entirely meritocratic, which is why Irving has received the Pulitzer neither for Garp nor Meany nor Cider--and certainly not for his latest 'novel,' which I shudder even to call a book.
P
April 12, 2010, 8:08 pm
Maybe if John Irving were not a dreadful writer he would already have been recognized. This isn't some kind of literary affirmative action, where the talentless and insipid are given their 'dues;' it's meant to be entirely meritocratic, which is why Irving has received the Pulitzer neither for Garp nor Meany nor Cider--and certainly not for his latest 'novel,' which I shudder even to call a book.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 9:05 pm
Despite the fact that I had to scramble to find a first edition of Tinkers and suspect I'll have to pay out the nose for the signed limited edition if copies surface, I agree with your comment about small presses. It was actually a good year for small presses. American Salvage was published by Wayne State University and got an NBA and an NBCC nomination; Homicide Survivor's Picnic was published by BkMk Press, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City; Lydia Milllet's "Love in Infant Monkeys" was published by Soft Skull Press; and, of course, Tinkers was published by Bellevue Literary Press. Large Trade houses are so unwilling to take chances these days that they pass on very good books... like these three. In an interview with Powell's books, Harding says that he didn't think the book would ever get published for these same reasons, I gather. In any case, it's nice to see that taking a chance paid off, and maybe the larger trade houses will notice that.

As for combining the first book awards into an aggregate, the problem is not so much that I can't do that or include them individually, it's that the data isn't available far enough back for most of those awards. The model is set up to predict, based upon a slew of variables related to each book and author, who wins the Pulitzer. Since there's only one pulitzer winner per year, you need to go back quite a few years to have enough examples of Pulitzer winners in the dataset to determine what predictor variables do or don't predict the outcome. I've been able to find sources for data for books back to 1982. That means, though, that I have to have predictor variable data equally far back. The only "first author winner" award I can identify that goes back that far and that I can identify winners for that time is the PEN/Hemingway award, so it's entered into the model (and though being the winning PEN/Hemingway book isn't a significant predictor, being a past PEN/Hemingway winner is). The LA Times first fiction doesn't help because the LA Times awards occur after the Pulitzer. I've looked at adding "past LA Times First fiction winner" as a variable and though I don't recall, there's some problem with that... maybe the data doesn't go back far enough or something, I'll have to look at that again. IF, however, anyone knows of any book award, first novel or not, that goes back to 1982 (and we can identify winnners back to that time), then I'll add it into the equation. I added sevreal this year... incluidng the PEN/Hemingway and the John Dos Passos Prize.

I enjoy the discussions on this page and, as I said earlier, kind of hate to see the award season end. Since Tom posted the 2011 page, maybe we can begin discussing books that we're reading and that we see as possibilities sooner. The NBA is the first prize to come out, and it would be interesting to see how the books we discuss come out in that competition.
Tom
April 12, 2010, 9:13 pm
I can't speak for Mr. Irving's talent one way or the other. But I do think that over the years some talented authors have won the Pulitzer as a way to give them their "dues". In every case these winning books have been collections of previously published stories. Specifically I am talking about The Stories of John Cheever, The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford, and The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter.
Mike
April 12, 2010, 9:54 pm
Yes, as far as I can remember, only 1 winner and 2 finalists are announced. As for Lydia Millet's book, I found a new 1st edition at a Borders today, so they're out there... paperback original.
Tom
April 13, 2010, 6:18 am
About 3,500.
Quilter
April 13, 2010, 9:26 am
There's a copy of the HB now on ebay, but with water damage. Boards are blue with silver lettering on spine and the DJ looks just like the paperback.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Paul-Harding-Tinkers-SIGNED-Pulitzer-2010-1st-1st-HC_W0QQitemZ180493440534QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Fiction_Books?hash=item2a063f5616
brak
April 13, 2010, 12:09 pm
haha--we had too much fun this year...time to get started on the next year!
eric b
April 14, 2010, 10:35 am
A hard copy sold yesterday for around $325 on ABE. To give an indication of the market, here is the description: "First Edition (stated), first printing, full number line to '1'. Fine/Fine Jacket/Signed. Green boards. A lovely copy, pristine, with very slight flattening to bottom of spine. Signed on the title page."
You can set up ABE to notify you when copies become available, but with only 500 hardbacks they are probably getting snapped up instantaneously.
Mike
April 17, 2010, 11:12 am
Looks like there are two hardcover versions, one being the Powell's Books "Indiespensable" edition I described previously, with a run of 750, and another issued by the Book Passage Bookstore Signed First Editions Club in a quantity of 500. I suspect they differ, as I know that the Indiespensable books include a tipped in page that specificallys tates that this is an Indiespensable book. I've now seen both versions available online, all at premium prices!

By the way, I read Tinkers (downloaded it for my Kindle) and it's a very good book. Good for Paul Harding, I hope he hits the road soon to sign copies!
Mike
April 17, 2010, 11:29 am
A story about Harding and Bellevue Press on NPR today confirmed that the first printing was 3,500, but then later indicated that 15,000 copies were published prior to the award announcement. I'm wondering if the additional 11,500 copies are also indicated as first printings, or whether they are second printings. Anyone seen a PB that isn't indicated as a 1st printing?
Mr. Benchly
April 17, 2010, 4:57 pm
The Borders in my town had a paperback of Tinkers with a number line that read 35798642. I assumed that was a second printing.
Tom
April 17, 2010, 5:40 pm
I borrowed a softcover from the library a couple of days before the announcement. It was a second printing. It says first edition, but the number line is "3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2" - no 1. It is otherwise identical to the first printing softcover. Same reviews on the back.
Mike
April 18, 2010, 12:21 pm
Thanks, that's helpful.
brak
April 21, 2010, 1:25 pm
I just received a paperback copy of Tinkers. It is a first edition--I bought it on half.com for $3 the day the pulitzers were announced. As it turns out, it is a former library copy, and so it does have a stamp on the front page (sadly). But still, possible to get a first edition without spending too much money on half.com. Crap shoot, perhaps, but worth a shot.
brak
April 23, 2010, 12:10 am
okay, so (crap shoot indeed), i just received my "hard cover" edition of "other rooms, other wonders" from half.com, and it was a paperback. HOWEVER, it was an advanced reader's copy. any thoughts on how those value versus a first edition hardcover?
brak
April 28, 2010, 8:39 pm
It got so quiet around here! Any thoughts on how Adv. Readers copies value differs from a first edition?
Tom
April 28, 2010, 8:52 pm
I did a little write-up about this not too long ago. http://www.fedpo.com/FAQ.php/Advanced-Readers-Copies My thought is that collectors prefer hardcopies. I know I do. Hardcovers are designed to last longer and I feel that I am getting something worthwhile. I hate to spend money on a softcover. The prices seem to reflect this as well. You will typically see softcover ARCs selling for less than a first edition hardcovers. I had an ARC of the first American Harry Potter and I would have gladly traded it for a first printing.
brak
April 29, 2010, 11:01 pm
ah, yeah, that was my impression too--i appreciate the link. it is interesting, though, that ARCs aren't more valuable, given that they are harder to come upon, in my experience.
brak
May 10, 2010, 3:23 pm
Amazing! I decided to give it another shot, so I re-purchased "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders" for $5, from a vendor who said it was a clean hardcover. It came to me--first edition, signed! CRAP. SHOOT. INDEED. how awesome is that?!
brak
May 10, 2010, 3:26 pm
again from half.com