Who will be the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction?

April 13, 2014

Here is the final 2014 PPrize Prediction List with just hours to go before the 2014 announcement. There was only one adjustment - Karen Joy Fowler moves up in the list to the #8 spot.

Please keep in mind that this is a prediction and in no way can we guarantee the prize outcome. But we can always count on insightful community discussions. The books that are surfaced, and the comments about them are always engaging and interesting.

The 2014 PPrize Prediction List for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

1.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
2.A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
3.Someone by Alice McDermott
4.The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner
5.The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
6.Tenth of December by George Saunders
7.The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
8.We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
9.A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
10.The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri
11.Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett
12.Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
13.Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
14.The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
15.The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

Comment on our lists, or offer your own opinion about who you think will win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 15, 2014
OneMoreBook BRAKiasaurus So far, for me, the best thing I've read this year that was published this year was "Fourth of July Creek". I really enjoyed it! Had trouble putting it down. A wonderful novel. I'm also going to read "A Replacement Life", which has been well-received. Phil Klay's "Redeployment", which was met with huge fanfare, "We Are Not Ourselves" (Matthew Thomas' debut epic tome, for which publishers bid $1 million). I also picked up (as you will notice me mentioning in the 2015 forum) The Dog: Stories by Jack Livings. So that should keep me busy for awhile, ahha.edit
OneMoreBook - Aug 6, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I'm with you on "Constellation." I'm reading it right now, and it's wonderful. "Someone" and "The Son" were faves of mine, too. "The Lowlands," as well. I still can't understand "The Goldfinch" win, and I thought "The woman Who Lost Her Soul" was terrible. Ugh. I've been looking for contenders for 2015, but have spent most of the spring/summer reading through the Craig Johnson "Longmire" mystery novels, having noticed the book tie-ins during the A&E TV series' credits. They're really good, and an interesting diversion for me, reading modern-day western crime novels. What should be on my Pulitzer radar so far this year? :-) edit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 2, 2014
I am working my way through some missed novels of 2013, and I have to say: I am shocked "a constellation of vital phenomena" wasn't a finalist. It is incredibly well-written, and though it is bleak, it is a story that deserves telling.

"Someone", "The Son", "All That Is", and CoVP were the best books from last year (from what I have read).... "Goldfinch" was compelling, quick, and had moments (primarily during the part set in Nevada that were heartbreaking and beautiful, but it was also messy, problematic, and at times very poorly written.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jul 17, 2014
stpress If you want to send me a galley, I will read it and review it.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jul 17, 2014
EdParks BRAKiasaurus Oh that's too bad--I'm honestly surprised! She is a wonderful writer, and the she imbues modest everyday moments with importance, with resonance, in a manner similar (though more accessible than) Salter. AGAIN! I MUST INSIST! COMPLETE TH BOOK! Hahah....oh well...edit
EdParks - Jul 11, 2014
BRAKiasaurus EdParks FYI. Largely on your suggestion I did give SOMEONE a try. I made it to page 35 and was bored silly. I didn't like the characters, the writing style, the story or the setting. For some reason Ms. McDermott and I just don't "hit it off".edit
Marybethking - Jun 29, 2014
Perifidia, I would really like to read this pool side. The publication date does nothing to help me with this. Has anyone ever had luck receiving an advanced copy? I never knew there was such a cultural war in the literary underbelly. New York just doesn't get enough sunshine. There's enough for everyone. And, some lower caliber writers like Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson have done things to really pay it forward! Ridley Pearson does a lot of charity work for the school I work for too. Probably shouldn't mention my classification of his work to those I work with.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jun 26, 2014
JohnZ BRAKiasaurus Bruce Bernstein Will do!edit
JohnZ - Jun 21, 2014
JohnZ BRAKiasaurus Bruce Bernstein I finished reading "The Goldfinch" a couple of days ago. I will report back soon and let you know my feelings about the novel. As I've been working these last few days, I haven't had the time necessary to write my response. However, I will have a day off soon, and it is then that I will attempt to gather my thoughts into a more cohesive fashion and tell you what I think.

So stay tuned...edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jun 12, 2014
EdParks BRAKiasaurus You should pick The Son back up and finish it--I think it ties together beautifully. Really enjoyed that novel.

While I can see how McDermott might've let you down, "Someone" is fantastic...just wonderful--I honestly thought it was the most likely book to win. READ IT!

"All That Is" was wonderful, as I have stated, so I'll be keeping an eye on your recommendations in the future! Let me know what you think is good so far in the 2015 forum.edit
Likes: 2
ey814 - Jun 11, 2014
A good essay exploring the "some loved it, some hated it" response to The Goldfinch:

Likes: 1
EdParks - Jun 10, 2014
BRAKiasaurus ALL THAT IS was on my short list for this year's prize. I believe it to be Mr. Salter's best book. I also think that what hurt its chances more than anything was that it was published too early in the year (April). Nonetheless, I am glad that you liked it as much as I. Having been disappointed by Alice McDermott in the past I didn't even try SOMEONE. And, just for the record quit reading THE SON as I felt it was too contrived.edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - May 28, 2014
So it's too late for such things, but having read "All That Is", I'm starting to think that it really should have been "The Son", "Someone" and "All That Is" that were finalists...with one winning, of course. Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there, how much I enjoyed Salter's novel. edit
Likes: 1
JohnZ - May 22, 2014
BRAKiasaurus JohnZ Bruce Bernstein

Hi. I'm still reading it, for a number of reasons.

1) As a writer, I prefer to read slowly, considering the characters and various plot points and details, etc. Also, the structure and choices the writer has made. And with regard to The Goldfinch, there's quite a bit to be contemplated!

2) I like to keep a story going for a good stretch of time. Sure, there are some books I have read rather quickly; but it's not a rule with me. The books themselves usually dictate my pace. For instance, I read The Accidental Tourist in a single sitting. With Gravity's Rainbow, however, I stretched the time out so that I had a few months in which to live with its characters and story.

3) Having read all of the other Pulitzer winners in fiction, I know that when I finish The Goldfinch, I'll have to wait till next April to read the next one. I know it must sound kind of silly, but there's something exciting about reading a book (or finalist) that has won (or been considered) for the prize.

Of course, there are other books on the horizon which have snagged my interest, so maybe I'll encounter a period in which I finish The Goldfinch in a white heat so that I may begin reading those other books.

4) I read every day, but life does have a way of intervening. As of late, I've been doing a lot of writing myself (something else I try to do every day), as there are some contests which I've entered. Truth told, after spending upwards of six hours arranging words and ideas on a page, I'm often exhausted and do not find the prospect of reading more words (albeit from other writers) to be very enlivening. One of the rules I have for myself is that when I sit down to read, I do it because I want to, not because I feel it's some chore to be tackled and finished.

As it is, I'm just about at the halfway point with regard to The Goldfinch. Having not finished it, I'm not ready to offer final thoughts on the book. What I've read so far, however, I've liked. I haven't felt that picking up the book is an exercise in drudgery at all.

Theo is a character whom I find myself liking more and more. And having lost a parent when I was a child, I can say that a good portion of what Tartt has to say about the nature of grief and loss is very close to what such a tragedy feels like. No doubt this -- as well as her vivid descriptions -- impressed the Pulitzer jury and board.

Writing of male adolescence is something at which Tartt is also adept. There are things in the novel she describes or observes (mostly with regard to Theo and Boris) that smack of truth and poignancy, and have even given me pause as I think back to my own childhood and the best friend I had. (And no: he and I neither stole nor sniffed glue, ha ha.)

But Tartt does love her adverbs, doesn't she? And too, there are some split infinitives (something that also afflicts Karen Russell's work) and dangling modifiers that leave me shaking my head here and there (of course, such are things one finds time and again in all kinds of fiction, prize-winning and otherwise). I have to wonder if writers and editors are just lazy sometimes, or if they feel basic grammar rules are so pliable that they can do anything they want with them. Who knows? It's something about which I try not to be a stickler, but being a writer, I have a real reverence for writing well... and reading books that have been written well.

For all this, I do find myself thinking time and again: Donna Tartt? Pulitzer Prize? For her work (viz., The Secret History, The Little Friend) falls in a strange hybrid range of popular fiction and literature, of best-sellers and more moderately successful works. (I don't say this as a snob; it's just something that is.) And that's something the Pulitzers rarely notice. Sure, it's happened before, though not often. (I'm thinking of Gone With the Wind and The Yearling here.)

As I've been reading it (I stated this in another post), I can't help but think of Rowling and Harry Potter. Those books and character kept jumping into my head as I was early into reading The Goldfinch, and I thought: Now what the hell is this? What are they doing rolling around in my head? Sure enough, though, it turns out that Tartt mentions Potter. She even gives the main character the nickname "Potter"! And Hobie's shop is a place one wouldn't be surprised to find in Daigon (sp?) Alley. So the cultural references have surprised me in that they're not things one usually associates with the Pulitzer. But too, there are other references that strike one as being more erudite, so perhaps Tartt was trying to offer something in the way of a balance.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted.edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - May 16, 2014
JohnZ BRAKiasaurus Bruce Bernstein Any update on your opinion? I finished the novel. It is an ambitious, messy sprawl of a novel, hard to put down but easy full of problems. I'm shocked it won the Pulitzer in such a strong year, but it was a fun read nevertheless.edit
Likes: 1
michijake - May 8, 2014
Hi Brak, sometimes bookstores in airports/train stations can be a good source of first editions when other stores are sold out. I don't know if you're doing any traveling soon, but I just found a first printing of The Goldfinch in a Hudson Books at BWI airport - of course it isn't signed, but it's a start! Anyway just a tip if you're still looking.edit
Likes: 1
JohnZ - May 4, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Bruce Bernstein I'm presently reading the book, too. I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would. However, it is a curious bird (no pun intended, ha ha). Some parts of the story are fascinating and well-written, with immersive prose and details so sharp that they cut like a diamond. And then there are moments when Tartt slips into a state of battering loquacity. Which is to say, she (and her editor) might have been more relentless in honing and shaping the prose.

The sequence that occurs just after the bomb explodes -- when Theo finds himself trapped in a nightmarish realm -- leaves one feeling dazed and a little queasy. It's fine writing, and very evocative. But there are also sequences that strike me as needing a little more work. For instance, when Theo is interrogated at the school. Tartt covers the bases, sure; but some of the dialogue in this scene (particularly Beeman's character) seems stereotypical and a bit of a staple. No doubt we've all encountered people like Beeman in fiction before, and there's nothing he says or does that impresses me as original or enlivening.

One can certainly see Tartt's love of Dickens in the book. Perhaps this has something to do with how some of the characters are presented as interesting and three-dimensional, while others seem to have been drawn with a broad brush -- something for which Dickens was known.

Tartt also seems to have been unable to stop herself from cramming as many details into a scene as possible. It's as if she would have felt remiss to have left anything out. Which can make for a plodding read. That would certainly be the case here were she not as talented as she is. Also, she loves her adverbs, which for writers can be both a blessing and a curse. It's not that you shouldn't use them, but when you do, it's better to be sparing with them. When you neglect to be disciplined about them, your prose becomes heavy, burdened by these anchors that tip readers off to writing that has a tendency to be lazy. For when adverbs not used with frugality appear, a reader wonders if the writer decided to take the easy way out by not attempting to make a scene better realized.

Still, Theo is an interesting character, and the scenes that work, work well. The Pulitzer jury, when awarding the novel, wrote of how much they admired the contemplation of loss and grief that persists throughout Tartt's novel. Certainly that is evident. Maybe the fact that she chose to investigate such things across so vast a canvas is what confounds some readers.

As I get deeper into the story, I'll report back. At present, I think it's a good novel. Whether or not it is a great one has yet to be seen.edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - May 3, 2014
Bruce Bernstein I have my own reservations about this novel. It was really divisive when it came out, some proclaiming it as genius, others condemning it as awful. While I am only about halfway through the book, my opinion falls somewhere in between. It seems clear to me that this novel has moments of genius and moments that are awful. The writing is uneven, the plot sometimes unconvincing; yet it moves quickly and is incredibly compelling. It's a hard book to put down.

I simultaneously empathize its detractors and its proponents.

All that said, this was a particularly strong year for fiction. How does an uneven--albeit ambitious--book win over the quiet perfection of "Someone" or the ambitious (but of a more consistent quality) novel "The Son"? I have no idea....edit
stpress - May 2, 2014
NEW YORK STORIES was submitted for the prize but didn't win. There are generous samples of it to be read online. Maybe you'll agree with the judges? ---Really, at this point the author will take any kind of review, no matter how devastatingly bad; ever mindful (as he is) that ANY publicity is good publicity. Poor fellow, he just can't seem to get a review.edit
ey814 - May 1, 2014
@tklein27 Cool. That didn't take long once you found it. And, confirms that my version as a first edition Dutch as well. Thanks!edit
ey814 - May 1, 2014
@JohnZ I agree with your observations about the Pulitzer Chronicles, I enjoy reading about the Pulitzer award process almost as much as reading the novels that might win the Prize! The politics and drama and history add to the enjoyment of collecting Pulitzers.edit
ey814 - May 1, 2014
@JohnZ I agree with you completely about the Pulitzer Chronicles. I enjoy reading about the Pulitzer Prize process almost as much as I enjoy reading Pulitzer winners! All the politics and drama add to the fun of collecting Pulitzers.edit
Likes: 1
tklein27 - May 1, 2014
Okay, it took a while. But I finally got my hands on the Dutch first edition. I listed it under its own page. Here it is:

Likes: 1
JohnZ - Apr 22, 2014
ey814 Marybethking JohnZ Those Pulitzer Chronicles certainly are interesting. For a good number of those years, it seems as if they were suggesting finalists. On the Pulitzer site, it goes back only to 1980 (as you stated above). With the Chronicles, however, one is given a glimpse of the previous decades: if anything, it provides one with even more reading material (despite the stacks of books one has already accrued, ha ha). Now and then the jury members presented books they all agreed should win, like From the Terrace by John O'Hara (who never won a Pulitzer) and By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens (who won once). I remember reading how the Cozzens book was loved by the jury, and even though Cozzens had already won a Pulitzer (Guard of Honor), they felt By Love Possessed was the best possible choice for its year. Apparently, the board had a different take on the choices.

Another interesting thing about the Chronicles is that the volume also includes letters from various members heading the juries over the years. It's quite insightful to hear their polyphonic views as they're presented in synopses of different books that were in consideration. The inherent dissent is also eye-opening. If I remember correctly, one year one of the finalists was Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father. In the letter to the board, Ms. Welty (a member of the jury that year) was not very keen on this particular book. Perhaps a bit too meta for her. Who knows? Another year, I recall the jury being of the mind that A Flag for Sunrise (Robert Stone) deserved to win. The same goes for Continental Drift (Russell Banks). Of the latter, when I read it, I thought: Russell Banks wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winner that managed somehow not to win the prize. The book really is that good. And clever too. The way Banks utilizes the parallel stories of an American and a Haitian refugee to contemplate the state of America is bracing. I'd never read anything quite like it. The American Dream as well as the American Nightmare. It's a beautiful, brutal, tragic novel.

Marybethking: Sabbath's Theater! Oh, man. I know it was a finalist, and while it's a very good book, it can also be infuriating. Mickey Sabbath may well be one of the most trying characters in fiction. Halfway through, I had to ask myself: Do I really want to continue to spend time with this guy? Because it was Roth, and because of his talent and skill, I stuck with it. Upon finishing the novel, I was glad I did. I think the point of it was to ask a question: Is anyone above redemption? Certainly that's a question one may apply to Mickey, who does just about every reprehensible thing imaginable in the story. I was talking about the book not long ago, and as I described one of Mickey's little "tricks" he plays on his ex-wife in rehab (involving the journal), I found myself getting angry about it all over again. But too, one realizes how much pain Mickey is in (i.e. Drenka) and begins to feel something (or so I hope) approaching compassion.

With Train Dreams, I am in complete agreement. It would have been my choice had the board chosen to award a book that year.edit
Likes: 1
Bruce Bernstein - Apr 22, 2014
Goldfinch?!!! Seriously, how did the Pulitzer award that novel their prize for fiction. can someone explain?edit
ey814 - Apr 20, 2014
Marybethking I have read Widow, and agree it is one of Irving's best. There have been a few of his that I didn't like as well (Fourth Hand), but because I like his writing style, I enjoy all of them. Did you know he writes the final sentence of his novel first, and then works backwards from that? That's about the oddest writing habit I know of! JohnZ I had forgotten World According to Garp was mentioned by the jury. This was prior to the actual naming of finalists (in fact, one year prior to that practice, which began in 1980 with The Ghost Writer (Roth) and Birdy (William Wharton) named as finalists). I dug out my copy of "Chronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction," which provides copies of the jury letters. For the 1979 award, the jury "unanimously and independently" chose The Stories of John Cheever" as the winner, but mentioned as "among the other contenders" World According to Garp, Collected Stories of Irwin Shaw, Continental Drift (James Houston, not Russell Banks!), War and Rememberance by Herman Wouk, A Good School by Richard Yakes, Final Payments by Mary Gordon, A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, Better Times than These (Brown, no first name), Magic Journey by John Nichols, Shosha by IB Singer, and Billy Phelan's Greatest Game by WIlliam Kennedy. In a penultimate paragraph, the committee concludes that they could not agree on a nomination beyond Cheever, but put Irving's World According to Garp as a second choice. It's a bit of a stretch to call all of the books mentioned in the jury's letter a "finalist" (though, as you go back in time, that's what you pretty much have to do if you're going to determine "unofficial" finalists), but it's clear that World According to Garp would have been a finalist if the "recommend three books" process was in place back then! (In the final paragraph, the jurists complain about the burden of reading from among the 121 nominated books... I doubt modern jurists would have much sympathy, as I think the field of submitted books has swelled to in excess of 300!). edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 20, 2014
ey814 BRAKiasaurus No luck thus far, but I appreciate the leads! This forum is awesome!edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 18, 2014
Marybethking Just quickly, off the top of my head:

Sabbath's Theater, Train Dreams, Poisonwood Bible, Light Years (Salter), and maybe The Imperfectionists (though that last one might not qualify and I realize that not everyone loved it...but I'm shocked at how few awards it garnered)...oh yes, and Mating. edit
Likes: 1
JohnZ - Apr 18, 2014
ey814 Marybethking Actually, ey814, The World According to Garp was mentioned by the Pulitzer jury in its year. If I remember correctly, it wasn't their first choice, but it was definitely one they put in the running. The winner, however, was The Stories of John Cheever, and I can't say I disagree with that. But I still think it's great -- and deserved -- that Irving was a finalist. What's not so great is that it seems not many people are aware of this. As happens with writers who are considered too popular and successful, the literary quality of their work is often questioned, which is just silly. Whatever his subject, Irving serves it well. And the characters he creates live in a reader's mind long after he or she has read the book. I still think of Garp and Jenny and Helen and Roberta and Duncan and Walt and Mrs. Ralph (oh man!) and Michael Milton (ouch!). The Helen Jamesians. The terrible Undertoad! The dog in the alley, and the child in the sky. And it's a book I read decades ago, when I was a teenager.

And then there's The Hotel New Hampshire and The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. I mean, Irving's written some wonderful books. I've actually been thinking of him while reading Tartt's The Goldfinch, as both are writers in the Dickensian vein. And who knows? Now that Tartt has won, perhaps future Pulitzer juries will be more willing to consider fiction that is both well-written and popular. It certainly happened with Gone With the Wind (a book of which I'm not fond) and The Yearling (a book I love). So maybe Irving might yet win.

As for Delillo, I think his best is still Underworld. Don't misunderstand, Falling Man is very good. (I don't think I've ever read a bad book by Delillo). But I think Underworld more deserving. And there's also Mao II and Libra (how was it not even a finalist?).

With regard to Erdrich, The Round House was very good (we've had this conversation, ha ha), but The Plague of Doves strikes deeper, I feel. As for the year The Round House was published (a year in which I also enjoyed Powers's The Yellow Birds very much), I think the choice for the Pulitzer was perfect. Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son shares first place with To Kill a Mockingbird as my favorite novel.

And Wallace. I liked The Pale King, and don't begrudge it being a finalist, but I don't think it was that year's best. Train Dreams was. But I give Wallace points for ambition. The Pale King is certainly that. I have yet to read Infinite Jest. I hear it's good, and someday I would like to get around to it.

And Philipp Meyer. It was very fitting to see The Son as being among the finalists. Finally! I remember thinking at a little after three on Monday, April 14th, when I was perusing the list of winners and finalists. Finally! How was it ignored by the National Book and NBCC and the Pen Faulkner group? It doesn't make sense.edit
Marybethking - Apr 17, 2014
Have you read 'A Widow for One Year?' It is also by Irving. I read it about five years ago and still think back to the wife's retelling of a tragic car accident.edit
Likes: 2
ey814 - Apr 16, 2014
Marybethking I'd award it to the books that I selected in my personal prediction list that didn't actually win :-) Don Delillo for Falling Man, Louise Erdrich for Round House and Phillip Meyers for The Son, most recently. I'd have David Foster Wallace actually win it for The Pale King, though he should have gotten it for Infinite Jest. And, though it's not all that fashionable to like John Irving, I think A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules were prize-worthy!edit
ey814 - Apr 16, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Try Odyssey Bookstore (http://www.odysseybks.com/). They had signed editions as part of their signed first editions book club. You'll have to email them to see if they have any signed copies available. edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 16, 2014
Marybethking Sure! That'd be great! Ebay's sellers are, naturally, out of my price range at the moment....so I'm just hoping maybe I could find something for close to the cover price. =) It's always a tricky prospect right after the announcement, but sometimes bookstores have left overs, so I figured I'd ask. Thanks!edit
Marybethking - Apr 16, 2014
I can see if Left Bank Books in Saint Louis has a copy. Try ebay?edit
Likes: 2
michijake - Apr 16, 2014
Marybethking Ooh good question! I definitely agree with "Blonde" by Joyce Carol Oates. I would also add:

"The Plague of Doves" by Louise Erdrich

"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver

"Mr. Ives' Christmas" by Oscar Hijuelos

"Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinsonedit
Likes: 1
Marybethking - Apr 16, 2014
I have a lot of reading to do. We both agree on 'Someone.'edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 16, 2014
I realize that this may be a silly question--but is anyone aware of a local bookstore that might have signed copies of The Goldfinch? If not, it's no biggie...just wondering, as we are all spread across the country, if I could procure a signed copy (with hindsight)...but I also am resigned to the idea that I won't find one any time soon.edit
JohnZ - Apr 16, 2014
ey814 JohnZ I'm enjoying it more as I get deeper into the story. The bombing scene was jarring and powerful. Though I almost feel that Tartt put in things that will figure later in the story (I hear it's also a thriller). As a writer, I can't help but analyze various plot points and elements when I read a book (or see a film). Some detail is mentioned in a way that is fleeting, and later the plot turns on it. The "wow" moments, you know. I try not to do it, but it's become as natural to me as breathing. Sometimes I tell myself to hush and get on with it (ha ha). But the subtext always comes at me. One thing: interesting how Tartt describes Theo's mother in birdlike terms (hmm. symbolism, anyone?). But no doubt, she has a way with words (minus "suddenly" and "meanwhile"!). As I said, the bombing scene definitely gets your attention; though I'll admit I wasn't surprised by the identity of the person whom Theo tends. I saw it coming pages before Tartt surreptitiously makes mention of the man's identity (though not his name). Still, it was detailed and managed to engage all of one's sensations. And this evening, at work, I did keep thinking of it, which is usually a good sign. I'll keep you posted.

As for The Executioner's Song, Birdy, and The Ghost Writer. Birdy, if I remember correctly, was somewhere around 300 pages, maybe a little over. The Ghost Writer was short. I think it was originally published in excerpts in a magazine (The New Yorker?). Of the three, while all being good, Executioner's still gets my vote. The word masterpiece gets thrown around a little too often, but here it fits. Mailer went all the way with it, and I can't remember him taking a single misstep. It's a book into which you fall, get lost, and finish as though you're coming out of a fugue. I've known a number of people who, daunted by its length, said they weren't sure if they'd read it. But I kept at them (ha ha), and not longer after beginning it, they told me they loved it and couldn't put it down.

I remember buying the book one afternoon, coming home, reading a chapter or two, and going to work. That night, when I got home, my sister was sitting on the couch, the book in her hands. She looked up at me and said, politely but firmly, "Sorry, bro, but you're going to have to go out and buy another copy. I'm not giving this one up." Ha ha. She and I still joke about it. I remember, too, that we finished it in the same evening. She finished it first, and walked through the room in which I was sitting, zeroing in on the final chapters, and I looked up and saw her red, swollen eyes; she couldn't stop crying. Well, a short while later, I finished the book, got up, went to her room, and looked at her with my eyes red and swollen from crying. We looked at each other without saying a word, and just nodded.

It's one of my favorite memories. Sharing something great with others. That's what reading is at its best, I think. edit
Likes: 1
JohnZ - Apr 16, 2014
AlexKerner Marybethking I read an article in which Ms. Tartt was called by a reporter interested in her reaction to the prize. Ms. Tartt's responses were short, even shy, but also grateful. I think she also said she found it strange. In addition, she said it felt weird talking to the reporter as she (Tartt) was sitting at the desk where she writes her books. One gets the impression that writing is for her a very personal, solitary act. Perhaps she is reclusive. One would have to be to spend time arranging all those details into prose! edit
Likes: 1
JohnZ - Apr 16, 2014
brad766 Marybethking All great choices. Lolita -- now I could definitely see that! What an experience!edit
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JohnZ - Apr 16, 2014
Marybethking Interesting question. There are two years in which the winners didn't strike me as the best choices for the Pulitzer.

The first is 2006 (March). While not a terrible novel, it struck me more as a literary gimmick or conceit. Having read Ms. Alcott's Little Women, I pretty much knew in which direction March would go; therefore, I was never really surprised by the story: it had too much of a paint-by-the-numbers element at play. Even for this, there were elements of story that Ms. Brooks created for her novel that are not to be found in Little Women; and yet, almost from the introduction of a specific character, I knew exactly where she was likely to figure in the third act. And end up there in Act III she did.

Therefore, I would have chosen Lee Martin's The Bright Forever as the 2006 winner. It's very well-written, with vivid characters, and it's a page-turner to boot. One doesn't get that very often, I think. Not, at least, with something that qualifies as literature (I'm not being snobbish, just honest). The central event in the story deals with a girl's disappearance. But the manner in which Mr. Martin deals with this is stunning. Like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, the chapters in The Bright Forever are told from the perspectives of different characters. Some of them are involved directly in the disappearance; others are connected, but in a way that brings to mind the phrase "collateral damage." The question that lies at the heart of the story deals with conscience and culpability, both individualistically and communally. It also has an echo of Wilder's Our Town. And really, the Indiana town Mr. Martin creates for his story is very striking. The only other time I've seen a portrait of a town drawn so vividly in books was Maycomb, from Ms. Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

The second is 2007, when The Road was awarded the Pulitzer. Perhaps if I had not read other (better) books by McCarthy, I might have liked The Road more. Certainly there are some beautiful passages; but again, not enough to warrant the prize. Really, it's the first book I've read by McCarthy in which I felt him manipulating, rather than earning, my emotions. He'd never done that before, and so I was disappointed when it happened as I read The Road. Also, I didn't buy how the two main characters always managed to get away or find food in the nick of time. McCarthy created such a brutal world that it should have been harder for them. And yet, from scene to scene, there it was: nick of time. What I really felt as I read it was that The Road seemed more like notes for a novel or a screenplay than a real novel itself. And the repetition didn't help. I understood its inclusion at first -- to show just how devastating the world had become, so unending in its horror and depravity -- but soon it grew monotonous. More than anything, it seems to me the prize was given to McCarthy more for his life's work, one title of which is certainly more deserving of the prize than The Road; that one is Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West.

For 2007, there were two novels that were more deserving, either one of which I would have been delighted to see win. One was a finalist: The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers. The other was The Lay of the Land, by Richard Ford. Of course, Mr. Ford had already won a Pulitzer (Independence Day), and The Lay of the Land deals with characters from that previous (actually two previous) novel(s). But The Lay of the Land impressed me in the way that Rabbit at Rest did: a beautiful summation of a great American character and life. As for Powers, he wrote a very literate, engrossing story. It could have come off as too esoteric, too dry, but Powers is so good at what he does that, even for the scientific and medical elements of the story, he never loses sight of its heart: a sister who desperately wants to reconnect with a brother who doesn't remember her. It's just a lovely, quietly devastating story.

Other than these two, I would also have liked to see Train Dreams win. Mr. Johnson wrote an epic in miniature, and while that sounds oxymoronic, if you read the book, you'll see it's an apt description.

Also: Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. Now, there's a feast of a novel! Imagine WWII as viewed through crazed carnival glass and running at the speed of a Keystone Kops serial, and you have an idea of what Pynchon accomplished. (It does help to have also The Gravity's Rainbow Compendium while reading the novel itself. Pynchon mentions some arcane things in the story, and unless you lived in England during the Blitz, you're likely to miss them.)

For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway: another one. Though I was glad he won for The Old Man and the Sea.

And then there are years when I've been pleased with the winners, but think maybe two Pulitzers would have been better rather than just one. Yes: I mean ties. Because in a given year, some works were published that were equally deserving.

The books that fall into this category:

The Feud, by Thomas Berger (hilarious)

Continental Drift, by Russell Banks (may be his best to date)

Where I'm Calling From, by Raymond Carver (terrific stories, with special mention going to "A Small Good Thing": it really is a masterpiece; just heartbreaking)

Whites, by Norman Rush (stunning stories)

Black Water, by Joyce Carol Oates (such incredible, unrelenting tension sustained throughout the entire story that it leaves you -- almost literally! -- breathless. I also think her novel, them, was deserving)

You Are Not a Stranger Here, by Adam Haslett (more great stories)

Jernigan, by David Gates (one of literature's great anti-heroes is to be found in its pages)

Billy Bathgate, by E. L. Doctorow (you get drunk on the prose; it's dizzying, really)

Underworld, by Don Delillo (why has this writer not won a Pulitzer yet? It makes no sense. This novel, however, might well be one of the best examples of ambition and execution. It seems as if the entire story -- which is huge and multi-layered and -charactered, is piloting toward the final sentence, which is all of a single word)

The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (along with American Pastoral, this is my favorite Roth novel)

Waiting, by Ha Jin (a complex story of love and marriage presented almost as if it were a fable)

Close Range: Wyoming Stories, by E. Annie Proulx (all right, this was a year when three -- yes, three! -- Pulitzers might have been in order. Ms. Proulx's imagination and mastery of form take your breath away. Like Carver's "A Small Good Thing," Ms. Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" is also a masterpiece, and just as heartbreaking)

Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson (now this one he wrote as an epic that was indeed an epic! Years later, I still think of the characters, especially those two brothers and Kathy)

A Flag for Sunrise, by Robert Stone (what's to say? This man can write! Also, he's unflinching)

Someone, by Alice McDermott (it surprises me this beautiful novel was not a finalist)

What it comes down to, really, is the fact that every year great fiction is to be found. Sometimes one wonders why there should even be a need to choose. edit
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brad766 - Apr 16, 2014
Marybethking A lot: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson; War Trash by Ha Jin; Waiting by Ha Jin; Billy Bathgate by E. L Doctorow; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; Go tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin; For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.edit
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Marybethking - Apr 16, 2014
Hypothetically, if you could pick 5 books to give the pulitzer to that haven't won already; who would you pick? Mine would be The Big Easy by James Ellroy, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, The Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden, The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng, and The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen.edit
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AlexKerner - Apr 15, 2014
Marybethking she's a bit reclusive...although she did the circuit for this book and did a 60 minutes interview...so maybe she will show up for the ceremony.edit
Marybethking - Apr 15, 2014
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Marybethking - Apr 15, 2014
No, I have not. I probably should. I did read 'Little Friend' back in the day. I remember an overreaching critic comparing it to 'Kill a Mockingbird.' Needless to say, I didn't see even a glimmer of Atticus,Scout, or Mr. Radley as much as I hoped they might have found a new home. I'm taking a contemporary literature break because I kissed one too many frogs in my 2014 search. The filler is sometimes better than the cake itself apparently.edit
brad766 - Apr 15, 2014
Will Donna Tartt be at the awarding ceremony? I seriously doubt that.edit
Marybethking - Apr 15, 2014
I was so blind sighted by 'Someone' this year that I thought it would win for sure. Almost to the betting stage. Out of the three finalists, 'The Woman Who Lost Her Soul' was probably who the jury assumed the board would pick. It is the best of the three by far.edit
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Arcticsound21 - Apr 15, 2014
@ey814 I have to agree with you that The Son would get my pick out of the finalists, although I also haven't read The Woman Who Lost Her Soul yet. The synopsis keeps reminding me of Tree of Smoke for some reason.edit
ey814 - Apr 15, 2014
DustySpines ey814 mgardne5 Yes, you can find out the Pulitzer Board on the Pulitzer website, it's not secret, just the jury members who are appointed each year. edit
ey814 - Apr 15, 2014
DustySpines ey814 AlexKerner brad766 I think its that when awards involve critics heavily in the process, you get a list that more resembles the pulitzers (thus the NBCC dominance). The NBA has authors as judges and they've come out with some rather obscure lists in times... so much so that the National Book Foundation moved to a longlist format and told the judges that it's okay to nominate popular books. They (National Book Foundation) point out that the purpose of the NBA is to celebrate writers and books and to support the publishing industry, so the longer list was intended to do that. Although it makes it more difficult to get winning books sometimes, it's more fun with the Pulitzer's when they announce all of the winners/finalists at once.edit
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ey814 - Apr 15, 2014
JohnZ I'll wait until you finish or get further into the book to comment on favorite characters, etc., though I will say that I thought it could have used another edit. Of the three finalists, I still believe The Son was the more literary and deserved the prize (well, I haven't read Sochacis's book, so have to withhold judgement on that, I suppose). But, I liked Goldfinch and was glad the winner was something I already had and didn't have to do a frantic search for (ala Tinkers!). Interesting observation about the page lengths. I think Executioner's Son is the longest (just confirmed that on http://www.pitt.edu/~kloman/pulitzerindex.html, it weighs in at 1,056 pages). The Ghost Writer and Birdy were the finalists that year, so not sure if they had enough pages to top the 2,000 pages total for the year.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 15, 2014
Marybethking Just curious--have you read the "filler" book this year? It seemed like it was the book a lot of people chose, as well...so just curious. I have not.edit
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JohnZ - Apr 15, 2014
So, anyone care to guess what book I'm currently reading? Ha ha.

I have to say, my expectations are high. Maybe more so than usual. The reason? I've never been a huge fan of Donna Tartt's work. Not that I think she's lacking in talent; it's just that I've never experienced the exuberant rush which has swept away others whom I know who have read and enjoyed her books. I had a good friend who talked passionately about The Secret History back in the day; but, as it turned out, it was a book into which I just couldn't get. Not my cuppa. It kept reminding me of a Young Adult novel I'd read when I was twelve (Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan) and I just couldn't surrender to the story. Anyway, I didn't read The Little Friend, either -- just dipped into it here and there quite sparingly.

The fact that Tartt is more mainstream doesn't bother me, either (I love all kinds of books; on my shelves you will see King nestled next to Updike and Straub rubbing elbows with Tolstoy); though, I must admit, it surprised me when the Pulitzer board chose her. Which adds to those expectations of which I spoke.

Another element that adds to said expectations: A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine (different friend from the one who exuded a near-uxorious loyalty for The Secret History) told me that I had to read The Goldfinch. I told her I had purchased it (based upon some of the reviews it had accrued, as well as its inclusion as a finalist for the NBCC) but had yet to start it. She said (more or less) that I should drop whatever else I was reading and commence reading The Goldfinch.

And now that Ms. Tartt has won a Pulitzer (and I've read all of the other winners), I've taken the plunge. It's early to tell, sure; but I suppose I'm enjoying it. Though Ms. Tartt does seem preoccupied with wringing out just about every detail she can, as if she would feel remiss neglecting whatever her imagination offers her in the way of inspiration and creation. It doesn't bother me, really: I enjoy dense, languorous prose (Faulkner, Tolstoy, Styron, Mailer, Nabokov) as well as sharp, precise, minimalist prose (Hemingway, Carver, some McCarthy), given it's not repetitive or loquacious for loquacity's sake. And the length bothers me not at all. I'm not one of those readers. In fact, one of my favorites is The Executioner's Song, which I believe is the longest Pulitzer-winner in fiction. Really, though, I love books of all sizes, and I have found that regardless of length, a story well told is one in which I'm happy to become immersed and lost for a while.

So far, I'm wondering if Ms. Tartt is running the risk in the "loquacity" department. But I do find myself being engaged, though not in a rapturous way. Apparently, from what I've read and heard, the earlier sections of the novel move at a sedate pace. Well, that's fine; as long as, of course, what's being described and what's happening is of interest. The prose is good, though not earth-shattering (perhaps that will change?), and I'm enjoying the characters despite that I've yet to feel invested in them as much as I have other characters in Pulitzer-winning fiction.

For instance: I took immediately to Miles Roby (Empire Falls); to Celie (The Color Purple); to Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird); to Ginny Cook (A Thousand Acres); to Gus and Call (Lonesome Dove); to Sammy Clay and Joe Kavalier (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay); to -- Well, it's a long list.

But there are other characters in some of the Pulitzer-winners who, while I wasn't enamored of them straight out, I grew to like; even to love. Characters like Jun Do (The Orphan Master's Son); Oliver Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge); Jon Ames (Gilead); Cal Stephanides (Middlesex); Willie Stark (All the King's Men) -- Well, ibid. (Of them all, however, Jun Do might well be my favorite.)

So, as things stand for Theo, we'll see. The book is holding my attention; but I'm excited to see if there arrives a passage that grabs me and makes me think: Yes! Now, there! There! No wonder this book won! This is something that has happened for me while reading those books I've been happy to have seen win the Pulitzer. As for those books which have won that never impressed me (March, The Road, and The Store among them), I never arrived at said passage(s). I've finished those books thinking of others that are more worthy.

But I'm willing to give The Goldfinch a try. That said, I'll also be thinking about The Son (I've ordered Shacochis's The Woman Who Lost Her Soul and will read it upon finishing The Goldfinch) and then see if my opinion-to-be-determined will change. As I understand it, not everyone is enamored of The Goldfinch. At my bookstore today, one of the managers and I discussed it, and she said she knew a lot of people who loved it, as well as a lot of people who returned it.

So, we'll see.

Oh: An interesting piece of data I came across while reading articles about the Pulitzers today: In the category of fiction, it was rather a hefty year, as all three finalists, put together, total over 2,000 pages. One supposes this year's jury was interested in going epic.

Happy reading, all. edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesAlexKernerbrad766thanks that is helpful. Interesting that LA Times is so high.edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines AlexKerner brad766 Year after year, the strongest predictor of the Pulitzer is the National Book Critics Circle Award... being a NBCC finalist is always the top predictor and winning the NBCC is always in the top 5, as is the ALA notable list. For this year's model, here are the top 10 predictor variables, in order of importance.

1. Book is a NBCC finalist from the same year.

2. Book won NBCC award for same year.

3. Book made ALA Notable list form same year.

4. Book appeared on NY TImes 10 best books list for same year.

5. Book NBA finalist from same year.

6. Book LA Times finalist from same year.

7. Book PEN/Faulkner finalist from same year.

8. Author PEN/Faulkner finalist within previous 5 years.

9. Author NBCC award winner within previous 5 years.

10. Book appeared on NY Times Notable books list same year.

The NBA winner is down a few more. By the time you get to #10, the actual points awarded are significantly lower, though, than the top 5. edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 mgardne5Oh I didn't know that. I must be thinking of the Booker jury which they make a big deal about.

Don't we know who's on the Pulitzer board, theoretically? edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesEdParkstklein27well I hope she gets out just enough to sign any copies you need her to, and then disappears, so mine don't lose any value they might have.

I also thought she has somewhat of a cult following (judging from the crowd i saw) and wondered if that doesn't mean more regular folks--non collectors--would be looking for signed editions, for gifts, etc.edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesAlexKernerbrad766the Booker is expanded this year so I wonder if that would be tough since there are no limitations or at least fewer than before.

Also I want to ask, do any of the awards lists stand out as stronger predictors than others? I remember that in the Tinkers year, I think, it made the American Library Association Notable list and this was seen as a strong predictor of Pulitzer status. It would be interesting to know if it happens that one list or another correlates more strongly with the PPrize. edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesWell the one thing I can add is that the UK quality is pitiful, even compared to the cheaper and cheaper efforts of many US publishers. The books seem ready to yellow and turn to dust. I rarely crack them open anymore for fear I will destroy them. edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines EdParks tklein27 I'm curious too. I read a piece on her in the Guardian and she seems pretty reclusive. I'm hoping the Pulitzer award will get her out on the circuit at least some!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines ey814 AlexKerner brad766 I'll bet you could do much of the same thing for the Booker if it wasn't the case that it is announced pretty early. One of the main reasons this works with the Pulitzer is that its almost the last award announced (only the LA Times Book Award gets announced after it, as far as major awards go), so there are lots of chances to see how a book does. edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesmrbenchly oh those back catalogs, they get the best of us!edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
EdParks tklein27I can't remotely agree with you about Saunders, but it does look like the winning book is mostly being sold for $200 or less--not much of a bump so far. I don't know how many signing events she did since the one I attended was billed as the only even Tartt did in Brooklyn, but I was curious to see how scarce or plentiful a Tarrtt signature on the Goldfinch would be. edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines mrbenchly Or to overspend on back catalogs of authors who didn't make the finalist/winner list :-) But, there is always that authors next book!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines And in more countries, they're not publishing in a hardcover format, going to large trade paperbacks.... the UK and Australia come to mind. I understand the economics of that, but hope that isn't a trend.

I will say, though, that in many countries, the hardcovers seem better constructed and more solid than US trade hardcovers, and I often like the dustjackets for international versions more than the US version... that varies of course, but still often the case. So far, all of the dustjackets and cover artwork on Goldfinch has been the same as the US, will be interesting to see if any variations appear.edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 AlexKernerbrad766I was going back through the lists and it is quite amazing the track record you've accomplished here. We've gotten spoiled.

My second thought was I wonder if it means anything for American literature if prize committees are so predictable?edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpineswow that is taking it to a whole new level. And I feel exotic when I invest in Canadian firsts. One thing I have noticed is that books can be so expensive overseas!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
michijake Probably not, it is still the #3 Hardcover fiction book on the NY Times Book Review list, and has been in the top 10 for 23 weeks, so the publisher is still making a boatload of money on it! Didn't Dan Brown's DaVinci Code stay in Hardcover for years before the publisher released a mass market paperback?edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 mrbenchlythe deserved benefits of being the guy who runs the model is to clean up on copies of the frontrunners!edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines I collect any version of a Pulitzer winner I can get my hands on, as long as it's the first edition of that country's release. I travel internationally for work, so can pick up current titles from interesting places. I had Marilynne Robinson sign my 1st Korean Edition of Gilead not too long ago. Ended up with Swedish (purchased in Norway), Italian, and Japanese firsts of Orphan Master's Son. They often make for interesting conversation starters at signings!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
mrbenchly Actually, not all Goldfinches... the top one is the aforementioned Indiespensible version, and I think there's one more Goldfinch in there, the UK signed first, but the rest are Tartt's back catalog... when it started looking like she was a front runner, I splurged and bought signed copies of her first two books and an ARC or two... while you could still get them for cheap, and I think there was a copy or two of The Son in that stack. I was moving them to where I shelve Pulitzer winners and finalists! :-) The Library of Congress has me for now, but I'm working on it! edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines ey814 I agree, mostly just a slipcover associated with the regular release of the book... that said, getting what is as close to a signed Powers book as possible was cool and, of course, a signed Pulitzer (Goldfinch) is a signed Pulitzer!edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
Marybethking It's an iPad issue. I can see who "Liked" comments on my PC (Google Chrome or IE), but I can't on my iPad using Safari. On the PC, the person's picture shows up and if you hover the cursor over the picture, the person's ID shows up.edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
Marybethking Yep, revealed on the same page as the announcement was made, but not until after the announcement is made.edit
Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
Found it, nevermind.edit
Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
Does anyone know was on the jury? Or, is that kept pretty hush hush?edit
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ddo - Apr 14, 2014
In hindsight it is easy to say that I loved the Goldfinch after it wins. But I have been a fan of the book ever since I read all 750 pages at Chrismas. I was so disappointed when the readers of The Tournament of Books did not embrace this amazing novel. They did not endorse The Son either. I love to read the comments here and use it has my favorite indicator of what to read next. Keep up the amazing work! May the 2015 readers' comments be as clairvoyant as the past six years!edit
Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
Does anyone know how to view who has liked a comment you made? Livefyre won't let me click to see this. I'm on an IPad, don't know if that makes a difference? Thanks!edit
JpCambert - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines JpCambert I find myself among those that enjoys the Big Bang Theory, although I don't care for Homeland, so, I suppose that my having enjoyed the Tartt book puts me squarely in the camp of those without taste. It apparently also puts the Pulitzer committee and a host of other awards committees, journalists (who named it one of the best books of the year), and book bloggers squarely in the same camp.

Expressing your opinion is fine. Expressing it in such an elitist and condescending manner rubs me a little bit the wrong way. But, who knows....maybe I'm just overly sensitive.edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 I don't think the Odyssey does anything special to their editions, do they?

I mostly have lost interest in Powell's editions; if they just throw a cheap slipcover on a book, I certainly am not going to hurt myself throwing my money at them. I guess I no longer see the value. That said, I subscribed for the Richard Powers edition a few months ago. That was pretty cool.edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 i think we should be nosy--this is a remarkable collector we are witnessing!

Remind me, do you often collect foreign language editions, or was this just a lark?edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
JpCambert DustySpinesWell that's why i framed it as my opinion. I found her Secret History also tedious, in need of editing, and in no way enlightening, which puts me in the minority and I'm ok with that. Though I'm not totally alone: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/19/goldfinch-donna-tartt-review

The real crime to me is that there were sooo many deserving novels this year, for this one to win is just shocking. But then many people really like Big Bang Theory and Homeland, so there's no accounting for taste.edit
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mrbenchly - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 Not to be too nosy, but do I spy seven Goldfinches? Fess up. Who has more books, you or the Library of Congress? :)edit
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Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
I love the prediction model. It might be a bit too scientific for literature, but it introduced me to a lot of new novels this year that weren't even on my radar. I think the jury picked the filler book this year. The board had an agenda for two books and picked a third to make it easier for the other two. It kind of back fired this year. Does anyone know who was on the grassy knoll?edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
I should also note that the Powell's Indiespensible Signed First Edition book club did a signed version in a slipcase this year, and Goldfinch was also a selection of the Odyssey Bookstore Signed First Edition book club.edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014

"The Dutch translation of The Goldfinch, Het puttertje, was published a full month before the English edition..."

The German version of Amazon has the publication of the Dutch version as September 19. The US edition was published October 22, 2013, same day as the UK edition was published. edit

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tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
brad766 I only collect the winners. So I have been very happy with the model. Its worked very well in the past. One year it missed Tinkers - most people missed that one. But besides that, I think its a great model. It focuses me on what to pay attention to.

However, the discussions are really important. They also focus me on what's relevant.

- Tomedit
JpCambert - Apr 14, 2014
I think something nobody is talking about (yet) that is very interesting is that "Five Days at Memorial" wasn't even a finalist. This was a book most felt was pretty much a shoe-in, in the non-fiction category.edit
JpCambert - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines Ouch. Not sure I agree with this rather harsh critique. I believe the book was flawed, certainly, but to say she is not a talented enough writer to be in the others' category is harsh, and not necessarily accurate.edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 DustySpines It's a hardcover (the Dutch version).edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 Will do. DustySpines not a chance :-)edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
grahammyers Yeah, as soon as I saw that name, I remembered your post. Well done!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
AlexKerner See my previous posts about how far back predictor variables have to be able to go to be helpful in the model. As I mentioned in an above reply, though, there was some interest in prior years of compiling a consensus list from the discussion board members as distinct (and in addition to) the statistical model. I think logistics tends to be the difficulty in doing that. edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
mgardne5 No, we don't know the jury in advance. Interesting that this year two of the three were book critics (or former book critics) and one novelist. I'm a big Ron Charles fan, I like his reviews and his opinions often concur with mine. But, just to be clear, the jurors don't vote for anything other than which three will be recommended... they send the recommendations to the Pulitzer Board without ranking or vote or tally. His presence on the jury may well have secured The Son at least the spot in the top 3, however, given that it didn't make any other award list.edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
AlexKerner brad766 AlexKerner brad766 There's no way to include the opinions on the discussion board in the statistical model. But, in year's past, we've talked about making up a "discussion board" list based upon the opinions of the discussants. I think, though, logistically that's difficult and most people don't post until the day before or so...

And, I'll defend the model's utility. True, one of three, but it did get the winner right. We've been doing this since 2008. In that time there have been 6 winners announced (one year no winner) and 15 finalists announced (three finalists the year no winner was announced). Of those six years in which a winner was announced, the winner was on the list five times. The one year that it wasn't on the list was Tinkers, but Tinkers was 31st on the model, which isn't too shabby. Of the 15 finalists, six have been on the list. Twice the model predicted the exact winner. For four of the seven years, there's been two of the three (winner/finalists) on the list. As I've noted on numerous occasions, there is no way to "predict" the Pulitzer with any certainty, it is a matter of opinion. The model and prediction list serves as, essentially, a way to quantify what can be quantified and as a means to discuss books that are of high quality. Other than how a book does in any given year's awards nominations/wins and best of lists, and the authors' history with awards, there's not much else that's quantifiable. The Son was on the list, just not in the top 15 (came in around 22nd, as I recall). edit
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AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
brad766 I think predicting the Pulitzer is a very difficult task, considering that it is such a small jury and secretive decision making process, which often results in picks that are surprising and unexpected. I believe last year similarly only 1 of the finalists was in the prediction list.

that said, i think the model was good at identifying the best reviewed books of the year. I think the model makers probably were as surprised as you that the Son was not getting the attention this forum thought it merited. Again, maybe it is a good time to give the forum a small percentage of the consideration so that a forum favourite that is getting neglected by the award circuit gets a mention in the list at least.edit
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brad766 - Apr 14, 2014
Wow just one book out of the 15 predictions. Maybe the criteria for compiling these predictions be changed. The Son came up plenty times in the comments though.edit
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Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
Didn't see that coming. I didn't read the 'Goldfinch' as I thought the writing from what I read online wasn't anywhere near Pulitzer quality. I guess don't judge a book by its cover or its critics either. At least 'The Son' was in there. I'm disappointed.edit
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EdParks - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 I believe the initial hardcover print run for THE GOLDFINCH was 250,000 copies. Unlike, TINKERS there will not be much monetary value in this year's winning book. Pardon me, but I am just pleased that TENTH OF DECEMBER didn't win, as I supposed it might. Mr. Saunders has gotten much more praise for this collection than (in my opinion) it deserves. I actually got angry reading the stories because of all the gimmicks and post modernism. In five out of the ten stories he conveyed laughter by writing HA, HA. I want the Pulitzer Prize winning author to have a better command of the language. I am pleased with THE GOLDFINCH as this year's winner. Congratulations to all those responsible for the prediction model.edit
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michijake - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 Great job with the prediction model yet again!edit
michijake - Apr 14, 2014
Right now "The Goldfinch" isn't scheduled to come out in paperback until next January. Do you all think they'll move that up given the win? edit
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tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
I had purchased a first edition early because I had a feeling about this book. There were over 60 people on a waiting list for Goldfinch at my local library. All the other books on the list were readily available on the shelves. I also observed what people were reading on the train, and I saw a good number reading Goldfinch. The last time I saw something like that was with Oscar Wao.

Anyway, I just set up a 2015 prediction page:


DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
mgardne5 interesting point. Just today I stumbled upon a site listing the top 10 recommended books by various authors and imagined one could use this data to inform predictions about how prize jurors would vote. Big data...coming soon to a humanity near you!edit
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mgardne5 - Apr 14, 2014
The Son was so close! I loved the Goldfinch as well, but The Son.... so close! I know it was considered an underdog, but many of us on the board would have placed it much higher than the formula did. Did anyone else notice that Ron Charles of the Washington Post was one of the three jury members? He loved The Son and put it in his top 5 novels for 2013 (and he did not even list The Goldfinch, though he did give a very favorable review). The Washington Post was actually one of the few to give The Son the praise it deserved. Accordingly, I assume Mr. Charles gave The Son his vote, and it still did not win.

Question: We do not know the makeup of the jury beforehand, right? Because if I'd have known Ron Charles was on the jury, I would have gone all in on The Son for sure.edit
AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
In terms of the prediction model, it is interesting that the model did not include The Son, even though many people in this forum were strong advocates for the book and turned out to be right in terms of it deserving more consideration than the previous awards had given. Maybe add a variable to take into account our opinions :)edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
Good for her, I guess, but there is just no convincing me that her book is in any way superior, or even in the same league as Saunders, Marra, Meyer, McBride, McDermott, etc. She is not a talented enough writer to be in that category, so I think this is a major disappointment. That said, I'm glad now I bought two.

Interesting about Shacochis who I never heard of.

GREAT for the prediction model--kudos guys!edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014

If anyone is interested, Square Books seems to have 20+ signed copies available at list price plus shipping.

DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 Or you can just send me the actual book :)

i promise to photograph it.edit
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grahammyers - Apr 14, 2014
oh yeah! i called that Shacochis nomination months ago.edit
tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
Hey Mike,

Can you send photos of that dutch first edition?

- Tomedit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines michijake http://www.pulitzer.org/finalists/2014?edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 14, 2014

Wow, Bob Shacochis got a nomination and, thankfully, The Son also was a finalist! I'm still shocked that "Someone" didn't place...but this was a strong year with a lot of amazing novels.edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
michijake aw well. I wonder if they'll post the finalists soon?edit
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michijake - Apr 14, 2014
It's The Goldfinch!

tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpines Is it a paperback? Or hardcover?edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
AlexKerner tklein27 ey814 A few.. particularly if you're looking at first novels instead of first books.

Of the first novel and first book category, there is Paul Harding's Tinkers, most recently, then you have to go back to A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980) then, I think, back to To Kill a Mockingbird (1960).

Of the first book won but not a novel, there's Lahiri's Emporer of Maladies and not many more, I don't think.

Of the first novel but not first book category, there's Diaz's Oscar Wao, Edward P. Jones' The Known World, N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn, and, I'm sure, a few others (South Pacific by Michener, come to think of it).

But, not many won for their first book that was a novel. edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 jfieds2tklein27DustySpinesYes, I think to each his/her own.

You could follow the flag, honor the main publisher, or go with what you think/hope is the publication date like I do. For award winning books, you could also buy the version sold in the country where the award is given.

My unfortunate habit is to buy them both/all, but I also think the rare book "market" values so-called "true firsts" (for what that's worth) more. When there is an obvious difference in publication date, the prices seem to reflect where the book was released first not the flag, which is one reason why I always beat the drum when this topic comes up. This may be in part a clever framing strategy of rare booksellers, but in a (lunatic) hobby where so much is based on the presence of the number "1" in a number line, small differences seem to matter. The good news, I guess, is that books published in smaller markets, like Canada, may be inherently scarce since the print runs must be smaller, but there isn't always a direct relationship between those factors and price.

Also, there seem to be a lot of reasons, from happenstance to strategy, that a book by an author hailing from one state might be published first in another, so I personally don't dwell on the reasons why it happened or "the flag." I may waver in special situations when the author is obviously not American, but that is usually a pain in the butt. Look at the prices of signed copies of American-born Canadian Carol Shield's The Stone Diaries Canadian edition, for example vs. the American version, or the UK version which some claim is the true first. I think Richard Ford's latest was actually published first in Canada. I just suck it up and shell out the bucks.

Anyway, I guess we have hashed all this out before. I am half dreading the "Americanization" of the Bookers for some of these reasons, although it arguably will make it easier for me to collect. Will I end up "needing" to buy the UK editions of any American winners of the Booker, for instance?edit
AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 ey814 this would be Jansma's first novel right? how may first novels have won? would be interesting to see that stat.edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpineshaha well for me, I stick to English just because I have to draw the line somewhere. Before the floor in my apartment gives out from the weight of books.edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
michijake brad766 although, the URL for the 2013 announcement is identical to that posted by brad766 except for the 2014 rather than 2013... edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
jfieds2 tklein27 ey814 DustySpines I go with the flag. If a book comes out in around the same time, a week or two here or there, in the US and other editions, I go with the US as the 1st. If there is a substantial time difference... maybe a month or more, then I have to consider the possibility that the US isn't the true first. If I recall, the UK edition of Lahiri's Lowland came out several months before the US edition, in part for purposes of the Mann Booker. It has a completely different cover/design and looks to me like the "true" first. Of course, I want copies of everything!edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 ey814 DustySpines I concur, though I know DustySpines feels differently :-) edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines ey814 Nope, in Dutch. edit
jfieds2 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 ey814DustySpinesI have had this disagreement with Mike and others on this board before regarding this fact. I am with with you, Tom. I discount foreign editions that happened to be released first for books where the author's primary publisher is in the US. Sometimes they happen for strange reasons. Random House US allowed THE TIGERS WIFE to be published in the UK ahead of the the US release in 2011 in order for it to be eligible for that year's Orange Prize, but the primary publisher was here. It was first purchased and edited here. In my mind, that is the important factor. Any other publications are secondary deals. Still, I know that Mike has some disagreement with publication, if not in this particular case, then in general, feeling that the first one published, even if not the "primary" publisher, is sometimes more important.edit
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tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpines If they were all published around the same time, I usually go with who the primary publisher is rather than which one might have shown up in stores before the other. It looks to me like the Little Brown in the US is the author's primary publisher.edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 DustySpinesis it in English? :)edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 14, 2014
jfieds2 I have "The Virgins" queued up to read, as well. The Salter comparison on its cover intrigued me.edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 mrbenchly I doubt Enon will win, but I suppose it could show up as a finalist. I didn't include it among my predictions, due to its recent win, but it was one of my favorite (and easily one of the most memorable and beautifully written) books I read this year.edit
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tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 tklein27 Goldfinch or The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (I can see how the digital folks could have scheduled the page release incorrectly)edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
DustySpines As an FYI on the Goldfinch, there was a Dutch version released before either the UK signed limited (no DJ) or the US edition. edit
DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
michijake brad766not sure how sad and desperate one would have to be to enjoy trolling a niche site like this on such a beautiful spring day.edit
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DustySpines - Apr 14, 2014
Hi everyone, thanks for another great year of discussion and prediction. I'd post more but none of my four devices and computers can ever successfully sign in to this site! Special thanks to Tom and @ey814.

Here are my aspirational guesses, based only on my favorites of what I've read of our 15 "candidates":

Winner: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (too funny and terrifically written to ignore)

Finalist: The Son by Philipp Meyer<--personal fave, of the novels

Finalist: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Finalist: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

I give myself the right to chose three finalists. I never finished "Someone" and I just don't think Tartt is literature.

Left field guesses?

Paul Yoon's Snow Hunters, Dave Eggers' The Circle, Alarcon's At Night We Walk in Circles, Linday Hill's Sea of Hooks.


Mostly, I just hope I already own the winner, especially if I own multiple copies. An unsolicited observation/comment or two for the collectors out there about the candidates:

*We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler--kind of hard to find in first printing, ditto The Flame Throwers by Kushner

*Tenth of December by George Saunders--went into multiple printings immediately. Somewhat scarce but not yet a pricey book on the firsts market.

*A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki --US edition (March 12, 2013), UK edition, a wacky spineless affair published by Canongate Books Ltd the day before! (11 Mar 2013). There is a seemingly simultaneous UK paperback as well, also released by Canongate.

*The Lowlands by Lahiri--UK is true first, no dust jacket.

*I think Goldfinch has a special edition or two floating around out there. I *think* the US is the true first.edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
mrbenchly You know, I maybe should have given Enon another thought... I ended up liking it quite a bit (though at times I didn't think I did!). I think I mentioned that hearing Paul Harding talk about the book made it more appealing to me. Still, I think his Pulitzer for Tinkers is too recent for him to crack the top 3 this year. But... one never knows!edit
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michijake - Apr 14, 2014
brad766 I think that brad is pulling our chains again - Good one, brad! Notice that if you type in pulitzer.org/anything you'll go to the same page that this link takes you too. Remind me to use this next year for April Fools!edit
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AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
Winner: The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

Finalist: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Finalist: A Constellation of Vital Importance by Anthony Marraedit
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mrbenchly - Apr 14, 2014
With apologies to the folks I'm about to mention because my predictions are usually a one-way ticket to a consolation prize, here are my guesses:

Finalist: Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

Finalist: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Winner: Enon by Paul Hardingedit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
Marybethking Interesting theory. Not a bad strategy if the jury really wanted to ensure one book. Hard to tell if that might really happen. in the olden days, the jury actually ranked the books they recommended and often recommended more than (or fewer than) three. edit
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ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
michijake I just always go to their website and keep refreshing, although last year it was posted on this discussion board before I could actually get to it on the Pulitzer site!edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 ey814 Yep, that got it! What's your prediction?edit
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tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 tklein27 Hi Mike, thanks for the heads up. I missed your email. I need to clean out my inbox. I posted the last list with just hours to go before the announcement. It looks like Karen Joy Fowler is the only change. Right? edit
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jfieds2 - Apr 14, 2014
I want to submit a prediction, despite the fact that I really don't have a good feel this year.

Winner: Someone

Finalist: The Good Lord Bird

Finalist: The Virgins by Pamela Erens


SOMEONE was not my favorite amongst the contenders -- I probably liked the Tartt, Ozeki, Marra and even Kushner more -- but I think it is Alice McDermott's time to be honored, and it is certainly a "Pulitzer-like" and deserving book. Also, I found reasons to discount most of the others: too commercial; not quite about "American life"; totally not about "American life"; very good, but a bit uneven, respectively.

I have not read THE GOOD LORD BIRD, but based on all I've heard, I think it slips in. Mike, I agree with your analysis re the NBA curse, but I don't think it will be overlooked.

I include THE VIRGINS just to have a book completely out of left field. It is not a brilliant or complicated, but it is a book from last year that stuck with me. It is also a "small book" by a small publisher (Tin House) and the sort of book I think the jury might highlight. edit
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jfieds2 - Apr 14, 2014
AlexKerner ey814tklein27brad766Why do I seem to remember something similar to this happening last year or the year before...a posting that turned out to be incorrect before the official announcement? (Perhaps, I am remembering something else that was not the Pulitzer.) My theory: it was a website test for later in the day. I do not think that Jansma will even be a finalist. Why they would have tested with a real book and not "Dick and Jane" by Joe Schmo is a wrinkle in my theory, but I stand by it.edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 Tom did you see the final list (a few posts down)?edit
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AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 AlexKerner tklein27 brad766 nothing on twitter, nothing on the newswire...you'd imagine that if the leak was caught by someone here it would have been noticed by the interwebs...but who knows maybe it is Jansmaedit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
AlexKerner ey814 tklein27 brad766 Not technology savvy, maybe... They've only recently (last few years) to posting online, and their server gets swamped around the award time. edit
AlexKerner - Apr 14, 2014
ey814 tklein27 brad766 would they be so sloppy as to accidentally post the winner before the 3pm dealine?edit
ey814 - Apr 14, 2014
tklein27 brad766 Yes, was there something posted earlier? Finalists?edit
tklein27 - Apr 14, 2014
brad766 The link just says page not found. Did you see something different?edit
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Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
'That's What it's all about Alfie.' May the best writer win. The writer we know we can never be because it's just so unattainable.edit
Marybethking - Apr 14, 2014
Personally, I think the jury padded the Orphan Master's Son with lower caliber novels to ensure that it won. I find no fault with this because it was one of the best novels I have read in the last ten years along with A Visit from the Goon Squad. But, I did not believe that the Snow Child was anywhere near nominee level writing.edit
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Ahogan - Apr 13, 2014
I'm not sure what I think will happen, but I know I would be pleased if it worked out this way.

Winner: The Son by Philipp Meyer

Finalist: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Finalist: Transatlantic by Colum McCann

Tenth of December could work well in any of those spots, too.

I'd love to see Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter or Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash get some recognition, but they're not even on the radar I imagine.

On the nonfiction front, I hope Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial wins. It was one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a while.edit
brad766 - Apr 13, 2014
Kristopher Jansma just won the Pulitzer prize! Its on their website: http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2014-Fictionedit
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michijake - Apr 13, 2014
So excited for the announcement tomorrow! I read very few of the books likely to be contending this year, but I thought it would be fun to submit predictions anyway. Why should ignorance stop me? :) Anyway, here are my thoughts at the moment:

winner: "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

finalist: "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra

finalist: "Brown Dog" by Jim Harrison

I've done my usual thing of predicting one complete surprise by choosing "Brown Dog." I haven't read it, so I can't comment on its viability but since it's a capstone work by a long respected (but perhaps under recognized) author I'm choosing it as a similar pick to "Shakespeare's Kitchen" by Lore Segal, a finalist in 2008, or any of the collected short stories that have won or been nominated (e.g. Grace Paley, Reynolds Price). My other super dark horse pick would be "The People in the Trees" by Hanya Yanagihara, which I've only started but it got close to the finals in this year's Tournament of Books.

PS for anyone who's betting on "Someone" and doesn't have a copy, they have signed ones at Book Passage in San Francisco: http://www.bookpassage.com/signed-first-editions

May the best book win!edit
michijake - Apr 13, 2014
Does anyone know if there will be a way to listen to the live announcement tomorrow? Last year I listened to on this website but I can't tell if they're doing it again: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/columbiajournalism/2013/04/15/live-from-the-pulitzer-prizes-announcement-ceremonyedit
brad766 - Apr 13, 2014
The Good Lord Bird is amongst the finalists. Inside news claim that it might win the award. LOLedit
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ey814 - Apr 13, 2014
JohnZ Thanks for your kind words... the time put into the prediction model is rewarded twofold by having the opportunity to share it and discuss with like-minded souls about Pulitzer-caliber books and writers. Honestly, it would cost me less if I just waited until the winner was announced and then pay the inflated price for that book (and, of course, if the jury/board picks someone off our radar, I'll have to do that anyway), but a lot of the fun in collecting Pulitzer's is in reading potential awardees, talking about them, and then the occasional sense of satisfaction if the winner is someone that was in our sights! It is all a crap shoot, though. As a juror, I can't imagine how difficult it is to read 300 plus submitted books (remember, any author or publisher can submit a book for consideration), then narrow it down to three! I don't think you can physically read that many books in the time given (as well as have any type of life outside of reading submitted books), so you have to go by other indicators as well, I think... do you know the author, was the book highly anticipated, has the author done something you liked before, etc. That's why I think the prediction list has some level of success...

And, as always, I'm grateful to Tom for maintaining Pprize.com and to the regulars around the year whose opinions and tastes guide me in what I read and look for. edit
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brad766 - Apr 13, 2014
ey814 brad766 BRAKiasaurus Adichie is only a resident, she said it in an interview.edit
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JohnZ - Apr 13, 2014
ey814 I've been waiting for your predictions. Thank you for terminating the suspense (ha ha). Your choices match my own -- any one of which seems to have a good chance of capturing the prize.

But even for this, I've learned by now (as I suspect we all have) that the Pulitzer juries and board and can throw surprises our way. The two books you mentioned in your post came instantly to mind. Actually, I've been thinking of them this last week or so, whenever I've been contemplating the possible winner this year. I'll decide on one book, only to think of another that's just as worthy. And then I consider the surprises -- often books of which I'd not heard, like Harding's and Ivey's. It also happened in 2000, with Interpreter of Maladies. I thought, Huh? What's this? Then, of course, I read the collection, and two stories in I realized the reason for its having been chosen.

The challenge is that we can never be sure what the judges will favor. As anyone who's read the Pulitzer Chronicles may attest, it comes down to the judges' personal predilections with regard to what they've read and deemed worthy. But even then, the board itself has been known to ignore the judges themselves. If this wasn't the case, Russell Banks would have a Pulitzer (for Continental Drift), and Joyce Carol Oates (for them), and Thomas Berger (for The Feud), and Saul Bellow would have two (one for Henderson the Rain King, the other for Humboldt's Gift). And we mustn't forget Thomas Pynchon -- he would have one for Gravity's Rainbow (and rightfully so!).

So what do we talk about when we talk about the Pulitzer Prizes? (Ha ha.) We talk about hunches and hopes, mostly. Because often it seems as if we're shooting arrows into the dark. Though, of course, this group -- which I'm so glad exists! -- manages more often than not to at least whittle it down to the possible contenders. But, even for the misses, we may take solace and delight in the fact that, when we log on, we're among like-minded people (i.e. lovers of literature) and have the pleasure of learning about and recommending great reading. It really is a wonderful venue.

Just yesterday, ERICAG mentioned Lori Baker's The Glass Ocean. Intrigued, I looked it up, read an excerpt, and thought, There's something here. Which is all to say that it's now on my radar, and when I've some funds to invest at the bookstore, I'll be hunting it down. (Thank you, ERICAG.)

Our predicament, though, seems to be the moods of the judges (to say nothing of the board). Will this be a year when they go for something beautiful yet seemingly small in scope (Someone), like they did the years Gilead and Now in November were chosen? Or will this be a year when they're thinking epic (The Son), like they did the year Lonesome Dove was anointed? Or will they go for sharp prose and experimental execution (The Flamethrowers), like they did the year A Visit from the Goon Squad became the desirable choice? Or, too, will they decide it's time another story collection by a much-respected author should be recognized (Tenth of December), as they did those years collections by Porter and Stafford and Cheever were deemed worthy?

Hard to tell. But exciting to ponder.

What I do know is this: Over the past months, I've saved and accrued a good number of the titles posted at the top of this board. And come tomorrow (3:00 here), I might well be taking one of them down from the shelf to read for the first time or to dip into again. As I've read all of the Pulitzer winners, I find myself looking forward to a new winner being announced even more than I used to, so that I may continue my ritual of having read every title in the Prize's category of fiction.

So I thank you, ey814, for the hard work you and others put into the model. It saves me time (and money! ha ha). It also expands my reading list (don't know if I should thank you for that; no, no: just kidding!) and allows me to read the works of writers with which I was theretofore unfamiliar. And that is a great thing.

So, until tomorrow, when we'll all be scrambling to get to this board so that we may share our thoughts and feelings (something to which I now look forward as much as to announcement of the prizes themselves), I will wish you all happy reading. edit
ey814 - Apr 13, 2014
Gads, I hate having to boil it all down to three :-) I forgot to mention Colum McCann's Transatlantic, which I liked a lot... not as well as Goldfinch, The Son, and Good Lord Bird, but probably in my top 5. It's not received a lot of love in the awards to this point, but it is a lot about American Life. I mentioned in an earlier post that I read Good Lord Bird and Transatlantic back-to-back, and both of them included Frederick Douglass as a character! And, one of the things that could help Good Lord Bird beat the NBA-winner curse is that it is very much about American Life... as much as The Son. So, if I thought the Pulitzer award would be made based upon my personal preferences, I'd probably have The Son as the winner, Good Lord Bird as a finalist and Goldfinch as a finalist. I don't think that will happen, but that would be my vote, if I got one! But, it's not my prediction... that remains Someone, Tenth of December, and Flamethrowers.edit
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ey814 - Apr 13, 2014
Well, I had hoped to finish Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being before posting my personal prediction, but am still only about half way through it (I like it so far), so here goes. The books I liked most this year were The Son by Philipp Meyers, The Good Lord Bird by James McBride and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have read (or am reading) all of the books in the PPrize.com prediction list top 10 except for Marra's Constellation and Fowler's Beside Ourselves. I read three short story collections this year, Saunder's Tenth of December, Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and Jess Walter's We Live in Water. I actually liked We Live in Water the best of those, but Tenth of December has stuck with me more over time. Among the books that are in the top 10 and weren't among the three books I liked most, I thought Alice McDermott's Someone and Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers were the most accomplished. I thought Lahiri's Lowland was good, but I thought it really lagged in the middle. As much as I liked Good Lord Bird, I have a feeling that the NBA-winner curse with regard to the Pulitzer will come into play... though it could make the finalist list, as did Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. But, remembering that last year I picked the NBA winner, Louise Erdrich's The Round House, to win the Pulitzer and it wasn't even a finalist, I'm going to eliminate Good Lord Bird from my personal predication of the winner/finalists. Goldfinch may or may not be too commercial... very hard to tell in my opinion and though it's certainly set in America, I wouldn't call it "about American Life." The book from my personal favorites that was most about American Life is The Son, but it was pretty much disregarded in the awards lists. I'll be honest, the only book among the 10 top books on the prediction list that I didn't like at some level was The Woman Upstairs... but it was very well written and had its virtues and has received due appreciation.

So, mixing all that in together, I'm left with the sense that the Pulitzer is down to Goldfinch, Someone, Tenth of December, and Flamethrowers. I think any of these could win--frankly any of the top 10 on the prediction list could win--but I'm going with:

Winner: Someone by Alice McDermott

Finalist: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Finalist: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

I would not at all be disappointed, however, if The Son, The Goldfinch, or Good Lord BIrd won or was a finalist.

At 2:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, we'll know, and I'm sure there will be some surprise among the list, either at the winner level or one of the finalists (e.g., Tinkers winning a few years ago, The Snow Child as a finalist last year, etc.)... there usually is!edit
ey814 - Apr 13, 2014
JpCambert The Interestings does come in among the top 25 (counting ties) on the prediction list, and got some comparisons with Franzen's Freedom and Eugenides "Marriage Plot," as well as being called "all-American." So, not out of the realm of possibility!edit
ey814 - Apr 13, 2014
brad766 BRAKiasaurus The Pulitzer Board selects the winner and finalists from the three submitted to them by the fiction jury. Only if Marra's book makes the jury's list of 3 will it have any real chance, and while it is true That the Pulitzer Board is mainly stacked with journalist and journalism professors (some exceptions... Junot Diaz is a member), the jury itself is probably (we don't know who is on the jury any given year until afterwards) novelists. Marra's book has done well and is one to watch, certainly. I don't have a sense of how "responsible" jurors or, for that matter, the Pulitzer Board members feel about upholding the "preferably about American Life" aspect of the award. If they know the history of the Pulitzer Novel/Fiction award, they'd take that pretty seriously, I think. So, if Marra, for example, wins, it would be two years in a row that the jury and the board disregarded that aspect completely, and this year is a year where there are strong candidates that would meet at least some of the "about American Life" criteria.

The Huffington Post blogger makes some good points, but needs to do a better fact check. Neither Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie nor Kate Atkinson are eligible for the Pulitzer. The former is Nigerian and the latter is British. I will admit, though, that figuring out Adichie's citizenship status is a bit of a tangle. She lives in Nigeria and the US, has university degrees from the US, has been a fellow at Princeton and Harvard and was identified by the New Yorker in the "20 under 40" list of the best American authors under the age of 40. I recall, however, an interview with her after that list was released saying she had no idea why she was included, since she was not an American citizen. So, Americanah is not on the prediction list because I don't think Adichie has American citizenship, but if I'm wrong (again, I've worked pretty hard to figure it out and have to conclude she is not a US citizen), that book jumps up toward the top.... not in the top 5, probably, but in the top 10 at least. edit
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brad766 - Apr 13, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Two novels based on political events outside America winning twice in a row?edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 12, 2014
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-porch/pulitzer-prize-preview_b_5102681.html <
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JpCambert - Apr 12, 2014
Having read most of the books "in contention," I'm still very much hoping that "The Interestings" somehow find its way onto this year's list of 3 PP finalists. It was my favorite book of the year when I read it months ago, and continues to be, even after having read most of the books on this year's predictions list.edit
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ey814 - Apr 12, 2014
I'm going to repost the "final list" because my emails to Tom keep bouncing, so not sure he's got it to post. Tom, if you see this post, here's the final list:

Final List as of April 2, 2014

1.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2.A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

3.Someone by Alice McDermott

4.The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

5.The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

6.Tenth of December by George Saunders

7.The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

8.We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

9.A constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

10.The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri

11.Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett

12.Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

13.Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

14.The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

15.The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oatesedit
ey814 - Apr 12, 2014
Marybethking As was the case with last year's winner, Orphan Master's Son, the "about American Life" requirement for the Pulitzer is prefaced with a "preferably"! So, not having content about American life doesn't take a book out of the running, per se, but perhaps works against it slightly. We'll see how "American Life" this year's winner is...edit
ey814 - Apr 12, 2014
EdParks Great info! Good to hear that those folks who read the books in the list also rated them in like fashion. As I recall, though, most of these on Goodreads will be rated lower than, say, the latest James Patterson, John Grisham, or Stephen King (and like) novels and many sci fi or mystery novels (not bashing genre novels, I've liked many of them over the years), so Goodreads rankings aren't very helpful in the overall, but as you've noted, its nice to see that the ratings for those books on the pprize list get approval from folks who read them!edit
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Arcticsound21 - Apr 11, 2014
Did anyone here read The Sad Passions by Veronica Gonzalez-Peña? I found it a lyrical exploration of madness and family. Was definitely at the top of my personal list last year.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 11, 2014
ERICAG Cool! Thanks for the recommendation!edit
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ERICAG - Apr 10, 2014
Not likely to win but still worth mentioning here is The Glass Ocean by Lori Baker. It is an exquisitely written book, true literature, with advance praise from John Banville and Thomas Pynchon, and rightly so. While it is "a long shot" candidate, were quality the true measure, it should be in the running.edit
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EdParks - Apr 10, 2014
A wise bookman once said to me, "just because it is a great book doesn't mean you have to like it." This profound comment has stayed with me for many years. Some of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels over the last several years have not overwhelmed me with either craft or content of story. I got to thinking; does the general reading public "like" the Pulitzer Prize winning novels?

My personal Pulitzer first edition collection begins with Larry McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE. So this "analysis" will begin with the 1985 winner. I am a member of LibraryThing, but since Goodreads has many more members I have decided to average the two sites' five star rating systems for this overview.

The average rating for the twenty-seven winners over this period is 3.8479 out of 5 stars. The highest rated winning novels were LONESOME DOVE (4.505), THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY (4.2), INTERPRETER OF MALADIES (4.09), THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON (4.04) and MIDDLESEX (4.025). The lowest rated winning novels were TINKERS (3.39), A SUMMONS TO MEMPHIS (3.555), MARTIN DRESSLER (3.585), THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE (3.595) and BREATHING LESSONS (3.62).

This year's PPrize Prediction List of fifteen books has an average rating, on the two sites, of 3.69. Only six of the fifteen exceed the average winning rating over the last twenty-eight years of 3.8479. They are: A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING (4.12), THE GOLDFINCH (4.115), SOMEONE (4.065), THE TENTH OF DECEMBER (3.975), THE GOOD LORD BIRD (3.91) and THE LOWLAND (3.91).

To put this in a bit more perspective TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD had a rating of 4.32, GONE WITH THE WIND 4.3, THE GREAT GATSBY (3.86), GONE GIRL (3.905) and HARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE (4.31).

I am not sure what any of this may mean, but it is interesting to note that the top three books on the PPrize List are also the top three rated novels among the avid readers of LibraryThing and Goodreads.edit
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Marybethking - Apr 8, 2014
I read 'The Maid's Version.' It was solid historical fiction. I haven't read 'The Snow Hunters.' From what I read on publishers w, there isn't an American element to the story so doesn't that take it out of the running? I hate even writing that sentence because it reminds me of the anti coca cola Super Bowl commercial campaign that took over there for a bit.edit
Marybethking - Apr 8, 2014
And, I didn't even finish 'The Flame Throwers.' It was due back at the library.edit
Marybethking - Apr 8, 2014
I can't like that comment because I love it.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 8, 2014
EdParks brad766 For what it's worth, it's not my generation, and I loved it....but I also have an affinity for New York (and the novels that take place there).edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 8, 2014
The shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the world's most prestigious literary award for women, is out. Worth £30,000 (about $50,000), the prize "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world." Three of the year's most discussed books - Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Lowlandby Jhumpa Lahiri - made the cut. Three less widely read novels, all debuts, rounded out the list: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Undertaking by Audrey Magee and A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. In a statement, the head of the judges, Helen Fraser, said, "We feel you could give any one of these books to a friend with the absolute confidence that they would be gripped and absorbed and that maybe their view of the world would be changed once they had read it." The winner is expected to be announced June 4edit
EdParks - Apr 8, 2014
brad766 The novel is somewhat generational, however it just happens to be my generation. There is no question about Rachel Kushner's talent as a writer. There are sentences that can take your breath away. The novel is not tied up in a neat little package by the ending, but that is by design. Likely to win this year's prize, but not for everyone.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 8, 2014
It was a wonderful novel but also very challenging. This isn't a novel for which amazon reviews will be an accurate indicator of quality.edit
brad766 - Apr 7, 2014
Was the Flame throwers a good nove? a lot of bad reviews on amazonedit
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EdParks - Apr 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I agree with ey814 that THE MAID'S VERSION wasn't up to the standard of WINTER'S BONE. However, Paul Yoon's lovely book SNOW HUNTERS is exquisite. It is a small, elegant, haunting and affecting novel with one of the most beautiful dust jackets of all time. The dust jacket is not only beautiful, but foreshadows the novels content with the image of the mountains, a blue umbrella and the bicycle. I should have included SNOW HUNTERS on my list of favorite 2013 novels.edit
ey814 - Apr 6, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I'm still trying to finish Ozeki's book before I post my personal list... one way or the other I'll post it by Sunday, latest!edit
ey814 - Apr 6, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I read The Maid's Version. I'm a big Daniel Woodrell fan and I liked the book, but it wasn't as good as was Winter's Bone, which should have received more recognition than it did and, in some ways, I enjoyed his book of short stories, Outlaw Album, better than Maid's Version. I would be very surprised if it was a winner or finalist. I haven't read Yoon's book... as you say his debut was well received, but it hasn't gotten much notice in the awards/best of lists.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Apr 6, 2014
I apologize if I've asked before--but has anyone read Woodrell's "The Maid's Version"? I was revisiting an NPR review of the book, and its writing was very well-reviewed. As it is a finalist for, I believe, the LA Times Book Award this year, it seems to me it could be a dark horse....or perhaps "Snow Hunters" by Paul Yoon (his debut collection of short stories was very good). I haven't read either but was curious if anyone else has.edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 6, 2014
We're going to need a 2015 page soon, haha....time is flying!edit
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michijake - Apr 5, 2014
ey814 We're pleased with your formula too! Looking forward to following it for years to come.edit
michijake - Apr 5, 2014
RostislavPlamenov Hi, have you heard of the Bancroft Prize? It's given out by Columbia University for the best books in history, and I believe there's often an overlap between Bancroft winners and Pulitzer winners. The two that won this year are:

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson

A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek by Ari Kelman

At any rate, they both look interesting!

http://news.columbia.edu/oncampus/3374 (2014 winners)

http://library.columbia.edu/subject-guides/amerihist/bancroft/previous_awards.html (previous winners)edit
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EdParks - Apr 3, 2014

Likely to be the following three:

The Flame Throwers

Tenth of December


I'd like to see it be:

A Tale for the Time Being

The Goldfinch

All That Is (Dark Horses: Transatlantic or Nothing Gold Can Stay-Ron Rash)edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 3, 2014
I think we're basically at a point where everyone should/could give their own personal predictions--and I'd LOVE to hear 'em! So let's have it! I know some people have already given theirs, so anyone else?

I think I'm going to have to say that it's likely to be the following three:


Tenth of December

The Flame Throwers

I'd like to see it be:


The Son

and then a darkhorse like "& Sons" or "All That Is" but realize that this is unlikely in such a strong year.edit
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brad766 - Apr 2, 2014
BRAKiasaurus brad766 ey814 Yeah I saw it in a dream. Between Good Lord Bird and George Saundersedit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 2, 2014
brad766 ey814 Haha, what does this mean!? In a dream?edit
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brad766 - Apr 2, 2014
ey814 The Good Lord Bird won the Pulitzer. I saw it.edit
ey814 - Apr 2, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Although it hasn't happened in years, I believe the Pulitzer Board has the authority to simply select a book they prefer, independent of whether it is among the three provided to them. It certainly has happened in the past, although over the last 20 years, the process has become more regimented... only three books forwarded by the jury, not ranked, and Board selecting, or not, from those books. Still, if past history is any guide, they can pretty much select any book they want (the Pulitzer Board, that is). When they failed to do so a few years ago, I felt that if they were unhappy with the three options provided them, they should have identified another book, but the fact that they did not suggests that they are conforming more to the "select from the three books the jury identifies" rule than was true in the first 50 to 60 years of the award.edit
ey814 - Apr 2, 2014
Karen Joy Fowler wins the PEN Faulkner for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I've sent the final prediction list to Tom, but here it is:

Final List as of April 2, 2014

1.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2.A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

3.Someone by Alice McDermott

4.The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

5.The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

6.Tenth of December by George Saunders

7.The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

8.We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

9.A constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

10.The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri

11.Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett

12.Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

13.Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

14.The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

15.The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

There is a pretty sizable point gaps between 10th and 11th place, and any of the bottom five seem to be long shots at best.

Now we wait for Monday, April 14!edit
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BRAKiasaurus - Apr 2, 2014
ey814 It is also worth noting that the Pulitzer Board may request a fourth option if they do not believe any of the three submissions is deserving of a Pulitzer Prize. It boggles the mind then that they chose simply to not award any book a couple of years ago....edit
ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
@Marybethking The list in my post below concerning the announcement from the National Book Foundation was for judges for the National Book Award. In that situation the five judges select 10 books to be on the long list, five books from that list to make up the shortlist, and the winner. The National Book Foundation announces each, in turn (Longlist first, followed by shortlist, then winner, about a month apart), but the selections are all made by the judges and not any other panel.edit
ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
I should note that these are the judges for the National Book Award, not the Pulitzer.edit
ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
@Marybethking For the Pulitzer? There is a 3 person (Wikipedia says 5, but I think the fiction jury is three people... it was the year the award was not made, I'm sure) jury (we don't typically know who that is until, sometimes, afterwards) who read all of the books submitted by publishers and authors. From those "entrants" (often 250 or more books), the jury recommends three books, without a preference for winner, to the full Pulitzer Board. The Board selects the winner, and the other two are referred to as finalists. Or they defer from selecting a winner and all are finalists.edit
Marybethking - Apr 1, 2014
So, do the judges pick the nominees as well? Or, are three books selected and the judges pick the winner? Who picks the final three is I guess what I am asking.edit
ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
And, from the National Book Foundation, an announcement of the fiction judges for the 2014 awards:

Fiction panel: Geraldine Brooks (author of March); Sheryl Cotleur (a bookseller); Michael Gorra (author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece); Adam Johnson (author of The Orphan Master's Son); and Lily Tuck (author of The News from Paraguay)edit
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ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
Since there have been a few questions about the prediction model, seems like an apt time to explain what this involves. The presumption is that although we can never predict which book will win with absolute certainty, there are factors available that might provide some information about the winner. It stands to reason that a book that has been nominated for and/or won a number of the literary awards that are announced before the Pulitzer announcement might be a candidate for the Pulitzer. It also stands to reason that prior year award nominees and winners stand a better chance of writing a Pulitzer award winning book than someone who hasn't been a prior awardee or nominee. So, I came up with a list of 36 "predictor" variables that might, together, enable us to at least do better than just guessing! Those predictor variables are:

1. Book Appeared on New York Times Notable Books list for same year

2. Book Appeared on New York Times 10 Best books list for same year

3. Book made ALA Notable list from same year

4. Author Previous Pulitzer Winner

5. Author Previoius Pulitzer Nomination

6. Multiple Author Previous Pulitzer Nominations

7. Book NBA Finalist from Same Year

8. Book NBA Winner from same year

9. Book NBCC finalist from same year

10. Book NBCC winner from same year

11. Book PEN/Faulkner finalist from same year

12. Book PEN/Faulkner winner from same year

13. Book PEN Hemingway Winner

14. Book LA Times finalist from same year

15. Author previous NBA Finalist

16. Author Multiple NBA Nominations

17. Author previous NBA winner

18. Author Multiple author previous NBA awards

19. Author NBA award within 5 years

20. Author previous NBCC Finalist

21. Author Multiple author previous NBCC nominations

22. Author previous NBCC winner

23. Author Multiple author previous NBCC awards

24. Author NBCC award within 5 years

25. Author previous PEN/Faulkner Finalist

26. Author Multiple author previous PEN/Faulkner nominations

27. Author previous PEN/Faulkner winner

28. Author Multiple author previous PEN/Faulkner awards

29. Author PEN/Faulkner award within 5 years

30. Author previous LATimes Finalist

31. Author Multiple author previous LATimes nominations

32. Author previous LATimes winner

33. Author Multiple author previous LATimes awards

34. Author LATimes award within 5 years

35. Author Previous PEN Hemingway Winner

36. Author Previous John Dos Passos Prize Winner

Over the past several years, I have entered data on each one of the above variables for 1,438 books, including every Pulitzer winning book since 1982 (Rabbit is Rich by John Updike). Those books came from "best of" lists for the respective year, award nominated books for the year, and so forth. There must be data on each of the above predictor variables for every book, and 1982 has been as far back as I can go and get that information for every predictor variable.

These "predictor variables" are entered into a statistical program (SPSS) as Independent variables in a Discriminant Function Analysis. Here's how Wikipedia defines DFA: "Discriminant function analysis is a statistical analysis to predict a categorical dependent variable (called a grouping variable) by one or more continuous or binary independent variables (called predictor variables)." The "categorical dependent variable" or grouping variable in my analysis is whether the book won the Pulitzer or not. Now, if I were using DFA simply in a social science experiment, I would end with analysis providing results pertaining to tests of significance (Wilks' Lamda, Chi-square, significance level, etc.). But, what we want to do is actually take that information and apply it to this year's books to predict a winner. The DFA process results in a structure matrix in which a value between -1.0 and 1.0 is assigned to each predictor variable (referred to as a function). The value of that function provide, essentially, a weighted value of the importance of each predictor. So, I simply use the function values as weighted points to total each year for each book, and the book with the highest point total is #1 on the list, and so on. For example, the function value for winning the NBCC this year was .769, so the NBCC winner was given .769 points, while all other books got 0 points. Making the American Library Notable books list had a function value of .370, so all 15 of the books on that list got .370 points. Some predictor variables are negative. It's so rare that an author wins the Pulitzer more than once, that having one a prior pulitzer is actually -.037 points off of your total. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.

This main dataset grows each year by the number of books I identify from the most recent year's list... so next year's main database will include the 71 books from this year (e.g., published in 2013) including the Pulitzer winner from this year (whatever that is) and that will be included in the data I run to determine the weighting values for next year's competition.

I should close by noting that my friends who are statisticians (I use statistics in my work, but would not be considered a statistician) think that the final step (e.g., using the results of the DFA to apply to this year's books in a weighted manner to predict a winner) is a stretch, and it probably is. But, the prediction model is simply a means to engage and discuss and focus attention on the Pulitzer award and collecting Pulitzers (and I am, unabashedly, a bibliophile who collects Pulitzer award authors/books). And, though I would not use this information to place bets, I'm pretty pleased with how successful it's been over the years in identifying winners and finalists, or, more accurately, identifying a short list of books from which the winner and finalists regularly appear!edit
Likes: 1
ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
michijake Welcome back! I've followed the Tournament of Books over the last several years, though honestly some of the books that win in any given round have flummoxed me. I never noticed, though, that in four years it has picked the eventual winner. I liked Good Lord Bird a lot, and wouldn't mind seeing it win the Pulitzer, though since it one that NBA, that seems to be a negative for winning the Pulitzer. In general, the T0B contest hasn't been around long enough to be included as a predictor variable. If it keeps going, in 10 years I might be able to add it in. edit
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ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
Marybethking I like your list. I finished Someone, and liked it quite a lot. I could see it winning. Like you, I'm partial to The Son, even though it's not made much of a splash in the awards thus far. And, it's always good to have a dark horse/new author. I'm trying to finish Ruth Ozeki's novel before I post my personal prediction list.edit
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ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
Marybethking I hope they do :-)edit
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ey814 - Apr 1, 2014
PEN Faulkner announced tomorrow, and that will wrap up the prediction factors and should have a final list to Tom by this weekend. Also, interesting news about a new Trilogy by Jane Smiley. Had she not already won, I'd call these "Pulitzer-esque"!

Mantle Acquires Jane Smiley Trilogy (http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/53172)
Posted at 7:38AM Tuesday 01 Apr 2014

Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A THOUSAND ACRES, has moved to Mantle after an auction conducted by Caspian Dennis at the Abner Stein Agency on behalf of Molly Friedrich in New York. Maria Rejt has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to three novels, a trilogy loosely entitled 'The Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga', and it is Jane Smiley's most masterful achievement to date. SOME LUCK is the first volume in a literary trilogy spanning one hundred years which follows the evolving fortunes of the Langdon family, whilst casting a panoramic eye on America during a time of monumental change. 'Publishing Jane Smiley is a dream come true for me,' says Maria Rejt. 'This trilogy - which opens in 1920, and ends at midnight on December 31st 2019 - chronicles the lives lived in one remarkable family in an ever-changing world, and completely beguiles us with stories of their achievements and dreams, disappointments and triumphs; it is a reading experience which I know will resonate with me for many years.'
Molly Friedrich adds: 'Jane's trilogy - 100 years of American culture! - is ferociously ambitious and I'm absolutely thrilled that Maria and Mantle will be properly introducing it into such a vital market.'

Mantle will publish the first novel in the trilogy, Some Luck, on 6th November 2014, with the second in the series, Early Warning, following in Spring 2015, and the trilogy will be completed with publication of the third novel that autumn. Each of the hardbacks will be a Mantle lead title, with Picador paperback editions scheduled for Spring 2015, Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016. The publisher is approaching Jane Smiley to tour on hardback publication of Some Luck and Early Warning.

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her most recent novel, Private Life, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by The Atlantic, the New Yorker, and the Washington Post and was described by the Guardian as 'a masterpiece'.edit
Marybethking - Apr 1, 2014
Claire Messud should have thought of that before she wrote that book then!edit
Marybethking - Apr 1, 2014
I hope the judges don't read these pages...edit
Marybethking - Apr 1, 2014
When weighing high quality fiction like this model does every year, 'even a blind squirrel will find a nut' sometimes. Interesting way to review fiction though for sure!edit
Marybethking - Apr 1, 2014
My final vote is for Someone for the win. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards as a nominee and The Son as a nominee. To me, these represent the absolute best of the year in fiction.edit
Likes: 2
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 31, 2014
michijake I personally have no insight into the prediction model, but I'm not sure this actually has any weight. (Someone who runs this site can contradict me if I'm wrong.) That said, I think we're seeing that the final 5 most likely books include "Someone", "The Good Lord Bird", "The Goldfinch", "Tenth of December" and "A Tale for the Time Being". On this site, it would appear that "The Son" is still an unofficial favorite, but we'll see! I would hate to be a judge this year--a lot of very strong novels, but hard to choose just one (or, well, three) to honor.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 31, 2014
Marybethking That's too bad! There are so many good ones!edit
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michijake - Mar 30, 2014
Hi All, it's been a while since I posted, but as usual I've been following this year's board and enjoying your comments! Apologies if this has been discussed before, but does anyone have any thoughts on the Morning News's "Tournament of Books" as a predictor? I noticed they've chosen the Pulitzer winner correctly four times since they started running the tournament in 2005 (so four times out of eight, not counting this year):

2007: The Road

2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

2011: A Visit from the Goon Squad

2013: The Orphan Master's Son

Interestingly, in the years when they didn't choose the eventual Pulitzer winner (I believe the contest always finishes before the Pulitzer announcement since it's based on March Madness), the Pulitzer winner was never even a finalist in the original 16 books (although in 2012, Swamplandia! was a finalist). "The Good Lord Bird" won this year, and I believe is the first NBA winner to also win the TOB.

What could it all mean???

Marybethking - Mar 30, 2014
I think ever..edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 27, 2014
RostislavPlamenov I think a couple of the following books are likely to be among the finalists. This comes from books I've read and also books that have been particularly well-reviewed (gotten praise, attention, etc.) this year:

George Packer's "The Unwinding"

Rebecca Solnit's "The Faraway Nearby"

HIlton Als' "White Girls"

Sheri Fink's "Five Days at Memorial"

Lawrence Wright's "Going Clear"

Jesmyn Ward's "The Men We Reaped"

Sonali Deraniyagala's "Wave"

Jill Lepore's "Book of Ages"

Hope this helps!edit
RostislavPlamenov - Mar 27, 2014
Hello, I've been following the board for a long time now and I wonder whether some of you have any idea what could come up in the non-fiction, history and biography categories? Any ideas? edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 25, 2014
Marybethking Haha, you mean the last one you read? Or the last one you will EVER read?edit
Marybethking - Mar 24, 2014
My last arty weirdo book was 'The Woman Upstairs.'edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 24, 2014
Another book I think we might see more about in 2014 (for the 2015 prediction....) : http://www.themillions.com/2014/03/guerilla-grandma-on-siri-hustvedts-the-blazing-world.htmledit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 24, 2014
I might read "The Goldfinch" next, however a friend gave me Clin McAdam's book "A Beautiful Truth", so I might dive into that first...otherwise, I'm going to have to start making predictions soon.

"My Education" was really great! I don't think it will win the pulitzer, but the writing is great, the story arc worked surprisingly well, and despite being a little difficult to get through at points, it really won me over with its resolution. I enjoyed Choi's previous novels better, and given the stiff competition this year, I don't think it will make the cut.

At this point, if I had to pick, I'd probably put it at "Someone", "The Son", and (just because I'd like to see him get some well-deserved recognition by a wider audience prior to his death) "All That Is". I would be shocked, however, if George Saunders wasn't one of the three finalists...which--unless it is one of those extraordinary years where we see three finalists in addition to the winner--would edge out one of those three.

I loved "Enon", really enjoyed "My Education", and well, hell, "The Flamethrowers" was also pretty brilliant. Norman Rush's book was wonderfully written, but it is one of the weakest books published this year that I have read. I don't know...I guess I'm not ready to start predicting stuff yet. I still think, without having yet read it, that we could also easily see "Constellation of Vital Phenomena" make the cut, but in that case the lack of American themes could likely keep it from taking the prize ultimately.

Strong year, man...strong year.edit
ey814 - Mar 23, 2014
So, NoViolet Bulaway wins the PEN Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction for "We Need New Names."


The finalists were Mitchell S. Jackson for The Residue Years (Bloomsbury USA) and Anthony Wallace for The Old Priest (University of Pittsburgh Press). Honorable Mentions go to Jasmine Beach-Ferrara for Damn Love (Ig Publishing), Kristopher Jansma for The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking), and Ethan Rutherford for The Peripatetic Coffin (Ecco/ HarperCollins).

Apparently, this is a pen name, her name is Elizabeth Zandile Tshele. The book was also a Man Booker Shortlist, so it has done well. Though she's been educated in the US and is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford now, from all I can tell, she is a Zimbabwe citizen and not eligible for the Pulitzer.

Thus, the only remaining variable out there is the PEN/Faulkner winner, which could move some of the lower books up the list, but isn't (I'm pretty sure) going to alter the top five or so. When that's announced, I'll update the list and submit the final version.

I'm 2/3 of the way through Someone, and enjoying it. I have A Tale for the Time Being cued up to read next. That may be all I get through before the Pulitzer announcement, though. edit
Likes: 2
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 20, 2014
I assume we're getting close to a 2015 link, but I wanted to mention that "Redeployment: stories" is getting a lot of good buzz and positive reviews.edit
Likes: 1
OneMoreBook - Mar 18, 2014
I just finished "Tenth Of December" by George Saunders. Wonderful stories. I enjoyed them all (although it was hard to get into the groove of the story line in a few of the stories, because Saunders' writing style is so unique; he just wants you to "get with it" without much help; must be the creative writing professor in him).

I just don't think that another book of short stories will be a winner or near-winner this year, since "Anne Frank" was a finalist last year. Anywho, you'll really like "December" if you haven't already read it. Always a "head-shaker" or a "wow" at the close of each story.

So now, I'm ready to dig into "The Goldfinch." I checked our local library in my small town, before I borrowed the book from a friend. If I were to put myself on the waiting list for it at the library, I would be # 309 on the list. :-/

Interesting NBCC win, huh? (I can't believe they misspelled "Americana.")

Read on ...edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 17, 2014
brad766 BRAKiasaurus ey814 Oh good catch! I wonder why I didn't see it on their website! edit
brad766 - Mar 16, 2014
BRAKiasaurus ey814 NoViolet Bulawayo already won for We Need New Namesedit
Likes: 2
brad766 - Mar 16, 2014
A constellation of Vital Phenomena might winedit
ey814 - Mar 14, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Well, the win by Americanah sort of seals up the list in a way I didn't anticipate! I am almost absolutely certain that Adichie is not an American citizen, though she divides her time between Nigeria and the US. With her win, that leaves only the PEN Faulkner award and the PEN/Hemingway awards to be announced as the final variables, and I don't think there are enough points between those two for anyone to catch the top 3. I'm on a plane somewhere over New Mexico, on my way to the Tucson Festival of Books (Larry McMurtry, Richard Russo, Anthony Marra, Roxanne Robinson, among others!), so don't have my laptop with me, but I'm pretty sure this means that Goldfinch will be the top book on the final prediction list. And, two points if it does win. The Dutch version was published a month before the US version, and since much of the story happens in Amsterdam, that's kind of cool. I ordered a Dutch version from Amazon.com.uk, and I can't tell if I got the first edition or not. There is no indication of any edition, no number line... but also, no number line with something ending in a number other than 1! I'm calling it a first Dutch edition until I hear otherwise! Also, there was a British signed limited edition that you can still get on ebay for less than a small fortune. If Tartt wins, it will soar in price, I'm sure.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 14, 2014

National Book Critics Circle Award Winners announced:

Fiction: Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Americanahedit

Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 11, 2014
ey814 From their website:

The celebration for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, given for a novel or book of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction, will be held on Sunday, April 6.

Sunday, April 6, 2014
2:00pm - 3:00pm
John F. Kennedy Library (map)
Likes: 1
ey814 - Mar 11, 2014
I just emailed Tom the updated prediction list with all variables available through the end of February, and here it is:

1.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2.A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

3.Someone by Alice McDermott

4.The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

5.The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

6.Tenth of December by George Saunders

7.The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

8.A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

9.The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri

10.Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett

11.Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

12.We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

13.Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

14.The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

15.The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

Top four remain the same, though Ozeki moves up one place, bumping McDermott down one. By virtue of making the ALA notable book list and the LA Times fiction prize finalist list Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs has climbed up to 5 from a prior rating at a tie for 22nd, so that's a big change. Similarly, Marra's Constellation of Vital Phenomena jumps from a tie for 25th to 8th based upon the book's presence on the ALA Notable books list. Percival Everett, at 10th, wasn't even on the January list, but jumped to 10 based upon being on the LA Times finalist list and the PEN Faulkner finalist list.

I'll do one more list with the three remaining yet-to-be-announced variables in it... the PEN/Faulkner winner, the NBCC winner, and the PEN/Hemingway winner. There is no overlap between the PEN Faulkner finalist list and the NBCC finalist list, and nobody on the PEN Faulkner list can catch whomever wins the NBCC, so essentially the NBCC winner will go to the top of the list (if not already there) and be the #1 predicted book for the year, independent of what happens with the PEN awards (Faulkner/Hemingway). Still, the top 10 can shift around based upon the PEN announcements, so we'll see!edit
Likes: 1
ey814 - Mar 11, 2014
grahammyers You can say that again. The PEN/Malamud award for excellence in short story writing, the Story Prize, and now the Folio Prize, all in a month! Given that the Story Prize has a $20,000 award (or 25, I can't remember) and the Folio Prize is whopping $67,000, he has momentum and cash! Maybe this is the year that a short story collection wins the Pulitzer again!edit
Likes: 1
grahammyers - Mar 10, 2014
Seems like Saunders has some momentum lately.edit
Likes: 1
grahammyers - Mar 10, 2014
George Saunders won the first Folio Prize.edit
Likes: 1
Marybethking - Mar 10, 2014
I read Fowler's book, I really liked it. It's Water for Elephants meets The whole first couples of chapters I thought I was reading an account of a missing child. I missed the cover picture somehow.edit
CoryDonnelly - Mar 10, 2014
ey814 BRAKiasaurus

I have a signed copy of "At Night We Walk In Circles". I really enjoyed the story. The characters are interesting, the locations are interesting, and the back story is interesting. After reading the last few lines of the first chapter, you will be hooked. Alarcon does a very good job of setting up the fact that the ending will not be a very happy one, but not giving away just what that ending will be. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 8, 2014
EdParks ey814 BRAKiasaurus It's definitely been on my list to read this year! He's great!edit
Likes: 2
EdParks - Mar 8, 2014
ey814 BRAKiasaurus

I admire the work of Daniel Alarcon, so I have read his latest novel AT NIGHT WE WALK IN CIRCLES. It is his best novel to date and has a truly spectacular ending. If you are like me it will require you to re-read the final page and ask yourself "Did I just read what I think I did?"edit
ey814 - Mar 8, 2014
Of course, the other multiple Pulitzer nominee to have a book out in 2014 is Chang Rae Lee, and his On Such a Full Sea is getting good reviews.edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 8, 2014
ey814 BRAKiasaurus While I completely agree that the Pen/Faulkner award has more potential to pick stranger or more interesting or simply less-mainstream finalists (due to the professions of the jury), I'm still surprised. I think we tend to see one or two dark horse candidates in the list, but just as often the list is at least half-consistent with many of the other major awards. Given how strong many of the "mainstream" books have been--and how, other than The Son, they have been represented in other awards lists--I'm shocked just really shocked that only "the bottom half of the prediction list" were on the finalist list.

Not that they're not great books! They may well be--I have been eyeing the Silber book for months and months, and intend to read it soon. In fact, I often enjoy the Pen/ Faulkner finalists even more than I do some of the Pulitzer finalists.edit
ey814 - Mar 7, 2014
Though we're not on to the 2014 books (2015 Pulitzer Prize) yet, I saw Marilynne Robinson at a reading last night, and she confirmed that the third book in her Gilead sequel, titled Lila and based on the wife of the character in Gilead (John Ames), will be published in the Fall. I would not at all be surprised if this turns out to be a chance for her to win a second Pulitzer. She's very well respected among authors and these are characters that are well loved. edit
ey814 - Mar 7, 2014
OneMoreBook I'm 1/3 of the way through Someone, and have the same impression/respect you have. I was sort of underwhelmed with Charming Billy, and am liking Someone more. I think, given the fact that McDermott is a three-time Pulitzer finalist, that this book has a really good shot at winning. I finished The Goldfinch. I really, really liked it. I must say, though, that I thought it could have used an edit and that by the end, it was a bit difficult to feel too much sympathy for the main character. Still, easily one of the best books I've read this year. I know there's some sense out there that it isn't "weighty" enough to win... and it is sort of a mystery story, but I don't think I'd count it out. Will be interesting to see if it beats out Someone for the NBCC award. And, although it won't end up on the prediction list, I, like you, still hold out some hope for The Son. In my mind, it's the most Pulitzer-like book out there. Sometimes books come out of the blue... Empire Falls didn't win anything else before it won the Pulitzer. We'll see. I'm going to finish Someone before I give much more thought to my own prediction.edit
ey814 - Mar 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I think this list sort of rings true with past PEN/Faulkner lists... it's an authors' award (judged by a jury of authors), and the lists tend toward the writers/books that literary writers admire. Joan Silber is a perfect example. Percival Everett's book made the ALA notable books list. Daniel Alarcon is one of the New Yorker 20 under 40 authors. Not as familiar with Trueblood, adn I've seen Fowler's book, but haven't hear dmuch about it. This nomination will shake up the bottom half of the prediction list, most likely, but not budget anything at the top.

Anyone read any of these?edit
Likes: 1
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 6, 2014
George Saunders has won the story prize this year. =D

BRAKiasaurus - Mar 5, 2014
I have to say that these are a little out of the blue--I'm surprised that there are...so many surprises. Last year, it made sense that there were so many small-press and lesser-known books; this year has been so strong, I'm surprised (but excited) by the choices.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 5, 2014
Pen Faulkner finalists:

"At Night We Walk in Circles," by Daniel Alarcon (Riverhead).

"Percival Everett by Virgil Russell," by Percival Everett (Graywolf).

"We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," by Karen Joy Fowler (G.P. Putnam's Sons).

"Fools," by Joan Silber (Norton).

"Search Party: Stories of Rescue," by Valerie Trueblood (Counterpoint).edit
Likes: 2
OneMoreBook - Mar 4, 2014
Just finished Alice McDermott's "Someone."

What a pretty book. Compact, beautifully written, and solemn. Wow.

I loved her "Charming Billy" way back when, and this was a nice change. But, I feel that it being another NYC-based book might be a strike against it for the Pulitzer. There is such a big world out there away from the eastern seaboard, I feel.

(Did anyone else feel there was too much concern/mention about alcohol in this novel? Just seemed strange to me, a little bit. But, I imagine Denver-based novels will probably have a lot of marijuana references in the future, too.)

I'm just starting "Tenth Of December" by George Saunders. I love a short story break between novels, just as Stephen King says he needs to write a blitz of short stories between his novels, too.

The Pulitzer for 2013? I've read many contenders, and none has floored me so far. But I'm still hoping for "The Son," which doesn't appear to be in the running.

Thanks again, as always, for all of your comments and recommendations. This site is my touchstone to the books I'll always cherish.

Read on.edit
ey814 - Mar 2, 2014
I have long held that there is a bias in literary awards toward books set in or written by New Yorkers. I know, sour grapes from someone who lives in the "flyover" part of the country (and, just to be clear, I love NYC). This very interesting website, which maps the setting for Pulitzer and NBA winning books, at least adds credence to my griping :-)

Likes: 2
BRAKiasaurus - Mar 1, 2014
Just a heads up: "On Wednesday, March 5th, we'll announce the finalists for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction." I know we were all expecting it to be soon, but I found the date, so I thought I'd share it. Happy readin', folks!edit
Likes: 1
JpCambert - Feb 23, 2014
ey814 I agree 100% on both your points. It was one of the 4 best books I've read all year (Someone, A Tale for the Time Being, and The Interestings being the other three). That feeling that it could have been edited down some is NOT a feeling I ever got with the Interestings, which, to me, was a near perfect novel and the clear cut best book I read all year, with the other three mentioned above bunched a tier or two below it.edit
ey814 - Feb 23, 2014
@JpCambert I'm almost done with Goldfinch, and really like it, but I have thoughts several times that sections could have been shortened and edited. Still, one of the tope five best books I've read from 2013, certainly.edit
JpCambert - Feb 23, 2014
Marybethking Not sure I agree. I don't feel this novel dragged at any point, nor do I feel that it could have been shortened in any significant manner, without detracting from the experience. I do, however, feel that "The Goldfinch" could have been shortened by at least 100 pages. And, I truly enjoyed that novel as well.edit
Marybethking - Feb 23, 2014
Fascinating article. The word 'mis matched' in the heading is very politically correct. The problem with the internet is that it makes self-publishing way too easy. Who are these 'reviewers?' Not to be a total snob, but people drive cars with 'Twilight' stickers on them.edit
ey814 - Feb 22, 2014
An interesting article in The Guardian about the (apparently) negative relationship between winning a literary prize and the book's popularity on Goodreads:


The gist is, once a book wins a prestigious literary award, its Goodreads ratings tend to go down. The researchers attribute this to the fact that, upon winning a prize, "a larger sampling of readers is drawn to a prize-winning book, not because of any intrinsic personal interest in the book, but because it has an award attached to it".

That makes sense. Goodreads is an interesting phenomenon, and a handy way to track what one has read in a given year, but I've not found the ratings particularly helpful in thinking about who might win a literary prize... for example, A Visit from the Goon Squad has a total rating of 3.62 (out of 5.0 possible). Stephen King's "Full Dark, No Stars", also published in 2010 has an overall rating of 3.97, Martha Grimes' The Black Cat, published 2010, has a 3.70 rating, and Scott Orson Card has two SciFi novels published in 2010 with ratings of 3.97 and 3.79. My point is not to diss genre books (in fact, I cut my collecting teeth on Stephen King and though I don't read him as much as I used to, his early books remain among my favorites; I also liked Martha Grimes' Richard Jury novels, though I grew sort of tired of the format), but to show that popular and genre novels tend to have engaged, enthusiastic followings that make judging by Goodreads scores not very helpful in predicting literary awards. Still, there's lots of data generated by Goodreads and there might be some sort of a formula that could sort out some of these issues!edit
ey814 - Feb 22, 2014
BRAKiasaurus It's that time of year :-) edit
ey814 - Feb 22, 2014
tklein27 Thanks Tom, we appreciate the time and effort it takes to keep the discussion board around and Pprize.com active! It's a community I value, not many other places to go to discuss Pulitzers. Now...if you'll get that job at Columbia coordinating the Pulitzer competition, we'd appreciate you even more :-)

Mike edit
tklein27 - Feb 22, 2014
Sorry all,

Livefyre changed a few things, and I had to alter some code to get the comments back.

- Tomedit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 20, 2014
stpress Ah wait--you are the publisher! Gotcha.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 20, 2014
stpress Haha, that is a very adamant recommendation--any more details about why you enjoyed it so much? Seems like a tough book to get a hold of.edit
Marybethking - Feb 20, 2014
Two things about modern journalism that blow me away every time; 'anyways' and 'smarter than him.' It's anyway and smarter than he is. Unchangeable Spots of Leopards could have been good. Respect the reader. It's like someone wearing a dress to the Oscars and walking out the door without their stylist informing them that there's toilet paper stuck to it..it hurts.edit
Marybethking - Feb 20, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I think the expansive part here was the problem according to what I've read online.edit
Marybethking - Feb 20, 2014
@tklein27 besides being a Sea World trainer, that would be my dream job. Seems like a heavy title though. Selecting jurors, not sure about where to even start with that one!edit
stpress - Feb 19, 2014
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Try NEW YORK STORIES, by Renald Iacovelli. The very LUMINOUS dark horse.edit
ey814 - Feb 19, 2014
Okay, LA Times finalists announced:


Percival Everett, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Graywolf Press

Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs, Knopf

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being, Viking

Susan Steinberg, Spectacle: Stories, Graywolf Press

Daniel Woodrell, The Maid's Version: A Novel, Little, Brown & Company

Interesting to have two Graywolf Press books, a visible literary small press, among the finalists. And, of course, here we have Ozeki again. I've done a quick update of points at this point, and this boosts Ozeki up above McDermott for 2nd, and makes up quite a bit of ground on Tartt. I'm not going to send Tom a "final as of end of February list" yet because we're still waiting on the PEN/Faulkner finalist list, which usually shows up toward the end of February. Once that's announced, I can update the list for the next to last time. In March we'll have the NBCC winner announced (which, in all probability, will send Tartt, McDermott, or Ozeki to the top of the list for good if one of them wins), the PEN Faulkner winner announcement, and the PEN Hemingway (for first work of fiction) award, and that will complete the variables available for the prediction model. So, a list in a few weeks after the PEN/Faulkner finalists are announced, and the final list toward the end of March.

Speaking of first fiction, the LA Times "Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction" finalists were also announced:

NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names, Reagan Arthur Books

Jeff Jackson, Mira Corpora, Two Dollar Radio Books

Fiona McFarlane, The Night Guest, Faber & Faber

Jamie Quatro, I Want to Show You More, Grove Press

Ethan Rutherford, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories, Ecco / HarperCollins

Noticeably missing from that list is Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which seems to have won every other first novel prize and which, by virtue of its inclusion on the ALA Notable Book list, announced a few weeks ago (but since the last prediction list was updated), has snuck into the top 10 on the not-quite-final February prediction list!edit
ey814 - Feb 19, 2014
tklein27 Too cool! Someone from this discussion board in NYC has to get this job... I want an invitation to the Pulitzer Centennial celebration! If I recall, that should be 2016. The first fiction (then called novel) prize wasn't awarded until 1917, but I believe that it went unawarded the very first year (1916). I could look all that up to confirm it, but feeling lazy!edit
JpCambert - Feb 19, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I did (read it, and respond to your initial post). It's the best novel I've read all year, and felt (at the time) that it was a shoe-in to be at the very least a finalist. Given how little it's been mentioned, however, I'm no longer so sure. The breadth and scope is very much in keeping with some previous winners. The topics are far-reaching and very much deal with American life over the past few decades. Topics like AIDS, cancer, homosexuality, rape and friendship are very much in play in this novel. I very much did NOT want it to be over when I finished it. It was a masterpiece.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 19, 2014
I'm going to throw this out there again, because I'm not sure if anyone responded last time (and I'm seemingly too lazy to scroll down), but has anyone read "The Interestings"? It would of course be a dark horse candidate, but it was well-reviewed and seems more expansive than her previous novels (of which I have only read one: "The Wife", and my wife has read another: "The Position").

Anyway, I thought of her, because npr posted an interview with her: http://www.npr.org/2014/02/18/279043562/teens-rehearse-for-adulthood-in-wolitzers-interestings Anyway...anyone read (or have opinions about) the book?edit

tklein27 - Feb 18, 2014
I know this isn't a job posting community, but this one's very appropriate - Pulitzer Prize Administrator at Columbia University:


Job responsibilities include Manage the jury system, Serve as the steward of core Pulitzer Prize policies, Handle public relations, Guide the planning for the Pulitzer Centennial celebration, Coordination of the work of standing and ad hoc Board committees.

Sounds awesome.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 13, 2014
By the way, Byzantium by Ben Stroud won the Story Prize spotlight award this year. I realize that won't factor into the prediction model, but thought I'd mention it. The choice last year was Krys Lee's book "Drifting House", and the stories in that are very good.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 10, 2014
According to NPR:

The shortlist of the Folio Prize, which is open to writers of any genre or nationality, is due to be announced later today - but has already been leaked via social media. The prize, worth £40,000 (about $65,500) was established last year to "celebrate the best fiction of our time, regardless of form or genre, and to bring it to the attention of as many readers as possible." The shortlist: Red Doc> by Anne Carson, Schroder by Amity Gaige, Last Friendsby Jane Gardam, Benediction by Kent Haruf, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pavaand Tenth of December by George Saunders. The winner of the prize will be announced on March 10th.edit
switzer_mike - Feb 10, 2014
absolutely love "The Son" and think it should be in the top 15 anyway. It is very "preferably American". However, maybe the PP Judges are looking at diversity. If The Son won, it would be put alongside Lonesome Dove as similarly themed. Maybe they don't want to be accused of such a thing.edit
Marybethking - Feb 9, 2014
Almost finished with the Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, potential here depends on an ending. But, this looks like a nominee to me. edit
DouglasFeil - Feb 5, 2014
ey814 Yes. That's why I thought "Falling to Earth' had a chance. I just picked up Amity Gaige's "Schroder", and based on the back blurbs, it could also be a dark horse. I do sort of root for "Goldfinch", though. I have the Powell's Indiespensable signed-edition still in the shrink wrap, so I imagine it will be worth as much as the actual Goldfinch painting from the novel if it does!edit
DouglasFeil - Feb 5, 2014
BRAKiasaurus DouglasFeil Yes. Like I said, I doubt it will win the Pulitzer as it didn't seem to get much recognition in the other awards. But, you never know. I highly recommend. There were a couple stories that I could see being studied and anthologized in a hundred years from now. They were that good. I bought a signed copy based on Russell's reputation, but it was a much better read that I expected.edit
ey814 - Feb 5, 2014
mrbenchly Interesting. You're right... I wonder if the ALA list is from December to November for some reason. edit
ey814 - Feb 5, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Yes, you may ask :-) It was on the American Library Association Notable books list, which is pretty high up on the points list, and Leavitt has been a PEN/Faulkner finalist twice, a NBCC finalist, and a LA Times Fiction finalist. The spread between #12 and #22 on the list right now is only .10 points, so Leavitt's past nominations jump him up. I like to list 15, just to try to catch the longshot, but really, only the top 7 have most of the points, after that, everyone's within about the same range, give or take a tenth of a point. edit
ey814 - Feb 5, 2014
jfieds2 I haven't read Someone yet, but it's next on my list and I think it might be McDermott's time. (And I do think we have similar taste in books, but Charming Billy just didn't hit the right cord with me!). Having read Flamethrowers, Tenth of December, and Good Lord Bird, I liked Good Lord Bird best, but think the NBA winner curse will play out and it won't win. I think Kushner could still win it... I think less so about Saunders, just because short story collections tend to be a tougher sell for the Pulitzer, but it's been a while for short stories, so maybe this is the year (though we said that about Edith Pearlman's collection last year!). I'm liking Goldfinch a lot and not quite ready to write it off, though I agree that it doesn't strike me as a Pulitzer-type of book. And, in the end, I may just disregard my own analysis and go with The Son! Too soon yet, I need to read Somone first.edit
ey814 - Feb 5, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Marybethking If I might nit-pick at wording, but the exact wording in the Pulitzer criteria is "preferably about American life." IMHO, Orphan Master's Son might have had a minor American Theme, but had nothing to do with American Life. But, there's that "preferably" there! Orphan Master's Son joins some distinguished novels that had nothing at all to do with "American Life," such as Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and Bernard Malamud's The Fixer as novels by American writer's that were just too good to pass up despite the lack of focus on American life! And, having read it, I'm fine with that... it really was a great book. Now, mind you, I still think Louise Erdrich should have won for The Round House, but it is what it is!edit
mrbenchly - Feb 5, 2014
ey814 Worth noting, at least for this year's Pulitzer prediction, is that Juliann Garey's book has a copyright date of December 2012. The ALA overlooked this but I doubt the Pulitzer Board would.edit
EdParks - Feb 5, 2014
Marybethking jfieds2

You might want to research the paradox, or thought experiment, of Schrodinger's Cat. The minor role of the cat in the novel has a specific purpose.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 5, 2014
jfieds2 "The Two Hotel Francforts", pardon me.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 5, 2014
jfieds2 Can I ask how "The Two Frankforts", a novel I've honestly never heard of outside of this forum (at least, not that I can remember), made it onto this list? Just curious...haha, maybe I've even asked this before!

Has anyone read it?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Feb 5, 2014
Marybethking I agree with Marybethking here--I think that "The Orphan Master's Son" was a very American-themed novel. It is possible that we conflate American setting with American themes. And while those tend to go hand-in-hand, we should not assume that both must be present.

I don't think its American themes come from how the woman was saved, per se, but rather the notion that you can rise through even the most oppressive community. In some ways, it plays on the "American dream" (though whether that notion even realistically exists outside of literature any longer is debatable), though seen through the kaleidoscope distortion of an oppressive society.

I still think that, of the books I have read this year, "The Son" and "Someone" and "Enon" have been my favorites. There is no chance "Enon" wins or is a finalist, I don't think--so I'd probably replace it on the list with "Constellation of Vital Phenomena", a book I haven't yet read, but intend to get to before April. (I add it, because its writing, what bit of it I have read in excerpts, is great; and it has received universally good reviews from friends and professional reviewers I respect.)edit
Marybethking - Feb 5, 2014
And how are 'American themes' being ignored when one of the main characters pretty much has her life saved by being able to immigrate here? It was an American story at its core. edit
Marybethking - Feb 5, 2014
@jfieds2 if a tale for the time being wins, the pulitzer people must really love cats and I won't put much stock in them again. Fortunately, they have yet to make a decision for a winner that I haven't agreed with 110 percent. Granted, some of the books I have read after they're announced as winners. Do you all think the judges read this? edit
Marybethking - Feb 5, 2014
@ey814 I just finished 'Claire of the Sea Light,' best book I have read in awhile, thank you!edit
jfieds2 - Feb 4, 2014
I am so conflicted this year. I believe in our model. I really think that one of the top 15 will win, but I have no clue what it is. (And if one outside the top 15 does win, I would put my money on THE SON, despite tabling it, for the time being.) I loved THE GOLDFINCH and would recommend it to other readers, without reservation, but, as I said before, it didn't resonate with me as a Pulitzer winner. I enjoyed someone (and probably enjoyed CHARMING BILLY more -- Mike, I thought we had similar tastes, but maybe not) and after being a Pulitzer finalist three times, I would love see McDermott win, but I am just not feeling it. I plan to read A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING (hopefully before the NBCC), but if I understand correctly, it takes place mostly in Canada. Almost no one made more of a big deal than I did, last year, about the "preferably about American life" directive of the Pulitzer, but of course, in the end, it didn't matter. And I don't fault the judges or the committee; THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON was a (beyond) brilliant novel. That said, I don't think we will see "American themes" ignored again. Continuing down our list we come to THE FLAMETHROWERS. Although much of the book take place in Italy, it has an American protagonist and "themes." I think it could very well rise to the top. I respected THE TENTH OF DECEMBER, but I can't say I enjoyed it, and it is too "out there" for the Pulitzer board, I think; unless, of course, they are swayed by the NYT article from earlier in the year. I would not be surprised if the jury sends it to the board, however. THE GOOD LORD BIRD is a possibility, but I can't comment too much, as I haven't read it. I picked it up, but couldn't get into the dialect, and put it down. If we really believe in our model, then it doesn't have a very good chance, as NBA winners rarely go on to win. (NBA finalists rarely do, as well, but i think THE FLAMETHROWERS is a special book.) I'll stop my analysis there, for now. Thoughts?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 30, 2014
ey814 It's a great book--I really am shocked at how overlooked it is. edit
ey814 - Jan 30, 2014
I should mention, of course, that The Son was also left off of this list. Sigh. Not looking good for it showing up on the Pulitzer prediction list. There's still the PEN/Faulkner, though... edit
ey814 - Jan 30, 2014
DouglasFeil I've been a little surprised that Lemon Grove hasn't shown up yet in any of the major awards... it made many end of year "Top 100 books" lists, but not any of the "Top 10 best books" lists that I'm aware of. Karen Russell is someone, though, that I think is well worth watching for the future (and collecting now!). I haven't read or heard of Falling to Earth, but since I grew up in Oklahoma and live in Kansas, I love good tornado-related novels! My favorite over the years has been William Hauptman's The Storm Season. So, will look for Falling to Earth. To my knowledge, no Pulitzer has had a tornado as a plot line... though there was a tornado in Lonesome Dove... but what wasn't in Lonesome Dove!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 30, 2014
DouglasFeil It looks like a very well-reviewed book! I don't know much about it, though. I assume that this is a recommendation by you, yeah? Worth picking up?edit
jfieds2 - Jan 29, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Dalebert I've already read the Antopol. I liked it a lot, although as the title hints, not all of the stories are American. At least 2 -- maybe 3, I now forget -- take place in Israel. She is certainly similar to Nathan Englander in the way in which she deals with Jewish themes in a very approachable and universal way.edit
ey814 - Jan 28, 2014
The American Library Association Notable Books list was released a little earlier than the past years, and their notable fiction books are:

Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson

"Claire of the Sea" by Edwidge Danticat

"Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See" by Juliann Garey

"Enon" by Paul Harding

"Unchangeable Spots of Leopards" by Kristopher Jansma

"The Dinner" by Herman Koch

"Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra

"The Woman Upstairs" by Claire Messud

"Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki

"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

As we've mentioned before, Adichie is not eligible for the Pulitzer (she's from Nigeria); neither is Atkinson (she's British... in fact, she's a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)! Danticat is from Haiti, but she's an American citizen as evidenced by the fact that she was a National Book Award finalist for Brother, I'm Dying. I've not heard much about "Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See" by Juliann Garey. Garey is a Los Angeles native, adn teh book is about mental illness... and Ms. Garey has identified herself as a person with bipolar disorder. This is her first novel. Of course, the ALA list was the only variable that identified Tinkers by Paul Harding for that year, so not surprising that Enon finally got some points through this year's list. "Unchangeable Spots" by Jansma and "Vital Phenomena" by Marra are also first novels, both of which have been discussed at some point during the year. Koch is Dutch, and thus not Pulitzer eligible. That leaves Messud, Ozeki, and Tartt, whose novels have all gotten points from nominations. I haven't added points into the analysis yet for the ALA, but the clear outcomes is to boost Tartt's lead and to possibly move Ozeki above McDermott. That said, the bigger point winner will be actually winning the NBCC, which comes later in February.edit
DouglasFeil - Jan 28, 2014
I doubt it will win, but I just finished Karen Russell's "Vampires in the Lemon Grove", and it was one of my favorite books published in 2013. I think it has all of the qualities of a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Also, if you were going to ask me for one darkhorse, a "Tinkers", if you will, I would select Kate Southwood's "Falling to Earth". Has there ever been a Pulitzer that chronicled the very American experience of a tornado and its aftermath? edit
ey814 - Jan 25, 2014
OneMoreBook I'm with you on The Son.... I'm very surprised that it hasn't shown up on more than just some of the "best of the year" lists. Very cool to find Steinbeck firsts with DJs! Steinbeck remains one of my favorite authors. I try to work in some older books while I'm reading newer ones... currently reading A.B. Guthrie's The Way West (so, so... sort of a dated perspective on the role of women, treatment of native Americans, and so on). I read Taylor's A Summons to Memphis, and wasn't blown away, but sounds like I need to try In the Tennessee Country.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 24, 2014
@Marybethking Eh, I just don't think that was her motivation. Philip Roth once claimed that in 20 years the novel, as we know it, will be dead. Despite the coverage this recieved, I just don't buy that he said it to get plaudits. Lahiri's opinions, however misguided, are just just opinions, nothing more.edit
Marybethking - Jan 23, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I know she already won once. This year it's all up in the air. By you saying that she is not going to win (which I agree with) proves my first statement to be true. What's better than one pulitzer? I would think two. edit
OneMoreBook - Jan 23, 2014
Sorry to have been missing in action the last several months. After I read "The Son" last summer, I figured I had read the Pulitzer winner, and moved on - or back, really - to other novels I've neglected or (sadly) had never read. I feel "The Son" is the best novel I've read since "Lonseome Dove," my favorite book of all time. I'm amazed "The Son" has been ignored in this year's accolades. Oh, well. Those Columbians just don't know, do they? Snore. :-)

Meanwhile, I found a trove of Steinbeck first editions at a New E ngland transfer station (dust jackets, too), from "Tortilla Flat" to "Cannery Row" and several more, and read through a half-dozen Steinbecks. Simply wonderful. Then, I found an early edition of "The Catcher In The Rye." Wow. Blew me away. Loved, loved, loved it. Then, an older copy of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesboro, Ohio," and I adored it as wel. Oh --- Then "The Sun Also Rises," and now Peter Taylor's "In the Tennessee Country." I have to say our writers of today are missing out on something - maybe it's too much pressure and too many digits in this iPad/Kindle age - as the writing many moons ago was so splendid. Powerful, simple, clean, beautiful, amazing.

I think I'll still work my way from the past to the present, although your comments here on McDermott's book has me interesting and wondering. I'l hit the library soon.

Please know I love all your comments and thoughts on today's books. Please keep them coming.

All best ...

BRAKiasaurus - Jan 22, 2014
Marybethking ey814 She has already won the Pulitzer, Marybethking, so I don't think she's trying to win again--nor is she likely to....edit
Marybethking - Jan 21, 2014
@grahammyers more editing, lots more editing needed on that sucker. But, yes brilliant in its own way. Not as brilliant as 'Someone' though. edit
Marybethking - Jan 21, 2014
@ey814 she just said that to use reverse psychology. She like any other human writer salivates when her name is dropped into the Pulitzer hat. By brushing off the institution that might name her its new queen; she has a solid chance of winning the crown. I haven't read it yet.edit
Marybethking - Jan 21, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @Marybethking for the most part, publishers weekly is spot on. I'm still not over their glowing review of sea of hooks though.edit
ey814 - Jan 21, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I'm glad to hear you had a positive interaction with Lahiri. Any one experience, such as mine, can't, of course, be interpreted to be the norm... though I've heard from several others about limited interactions in signings... but, I'm willing to give it another try if, hopefully, she tours in the future!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 20, 2014
Dalebert ey814 I don't know what prompted Lahiri's comment--but I have met her before when she was exhausted and at the tail end of a long tour, and she was wonderful and pleasant. She used to be a teacher at RISD, my alma matter, and I spoke to her about living in Providence vs. New York, etc.

Of her comments, I would say two things: first of all, when it comes to the Pulitzer and its American-themed focus, I think we are going to see that concept being stretched more and more. "American" is not just stories about families in the heartland, though I do love those (preferably, to my tastes, set in New England however); it includes the rest of the world in a very direct way. Even "The Orphan Master's Son" was, in some ways, a very American story.

Second, I think her comments are anachronistic. There are absolutely still plenty of authors who are firmly rooted in American lore. Our country's short history is fascinating and rich. That said, I think the previous two or three generations of American authors were much more firmly interested in pure American stories. The current crop is much more interested in telling international stories. Just from the past two years, I can point out a handful: Nathan Englander, Dave Eggers, Jhumpa Lahiri herself, Noviolet Buawayo, Anthony Marra, etc.edit
Dalebert - Jan 20, 2014
ey814 I don't agree with the "overrated" comment, but I do agree that we are pretty insular when it comes to literature. Yes, Americans come from all different backgrounds, which is why American literature isn't just about America or Americans, however I think an argument can be made that American writers (especially contemporary writers) are for the most part trained in the same manner (e.g., Iowa writers workshop) so their writing style is very similar.

What I think Lahiri is missing though is that it's not the case that everyone here thinks American literature is the best, it's that we are largely ignorant to literature published in other languages (in my opinion, this is why Americans are always so upset about the Noble Prize, it often goes to someone we've never hear of ). What she is forgetting is that publishing is a business that is profit driven, probably more so here than anywhere else. As much as we would love to have more books in translation, they tend not to sell here and publishers don't want to take the risk. Yes, I think that hurts us, but what can we do?

Sad to hear that Lahiri is unpleasant to meet at a signing. It's a shame really. I too met Saunders a few months ago and thought he was one of the nicest guys. He literally took the time to have a brief conversation with everyone waiting to get their books signed. Asked for everyone's name, shook everyone's hand. He clearly enjoys meeting his fans. edit
ey814 - Jan 19, 2014
"Our reading habits are transformed by the mainstream and to be frank, I find American literature massively overrated." Thoughts. My gut reaction? First, calling anything "American literature" seems an awfully broad brush. Heck, her writing is mainly about Indian immigrants to America. Different from Robert Olen Butler's short stories about Vietnamese immigrants to America. Different from Nathan Englanders stories about Jewish Americans. Honestly, my first thought was that this qualifies her to sit on the Nobel committee, which seems to despise American literature. Second... isn't this sort of biting the hand that feeds her? I obviously don't agree. The fact that she's a pretty unpleasant person to meet at a signing doesn't improve my opinion any. I saw George Saunders a few days ago... he was funny, engaging, and when signing, interested in my comments about his book, and really a nice person. As is Jennifer Egan... Michael Chabon... Robert Olen Butler,... and others. edit
ey814 - Jan 19, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @EdParks I have to confess the only book I've read by McDermott is Charming Billy, and I was underwhelmed with it. But, Someone is next on my "to read" list. Still working through The Goldfinch... wish I wasn't such a slow/deliberate reader :-)edit
ey814 - Jan 19, 2014
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus FIrst, I trust Ron Charles more than about any other reviewer... his tastes run along the same line as mine, so I always pay attention to what he likes. @grahammyers description of the book further piques my interest... sounds exactly like a Pulitzer-themed book. It's on my list to read.edit
grahammyers - Jan 19, 2014
ey814 thanks. keep up the good work with this forum. great opportunity for serious readers to come together.edit
grahammyers - Jan 19, 2014
BRAKiasaurus i love big, epic novels with a central mystery and excellent character development. this one hooked me right away. there's a lot going on in it but it dramatizes a lot of american foreign policy and what led up to 9/11 in a way that's captivating. it's incredibly morally serious and at times dark, but the characters pull you in.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 18, 2014
grahammyers Can you tell me more about that novel, what you enjoyed, etc.? It got a very mixed review in the NYtimes, but Ron Charles seemed to enjoy it. I almost picked it up myself but, given all the other large novels I have yet to get to (from this year alone), I wasn't sure if I should prioritize it.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 18, 2014
EdParks I have read a couple of her books and do not believe all three of her previous nominations were justified. "Someone", however, is a sublte beautiful book. I really loved it.edit
ey814 - Jan 18, 2014
EdParks I presume you saw my updated list (in one of my posts, scroll down) in which Ozeki shoots to the #3 position by virtue of her NBCC nomination! Your favorite choices are doing pretty well... Ozeki, Kushner, and Tartt are all in the top 5. Salter's still hanging in there (#15 of 15 on the list) but Transatlantic hasn't received much attention in the awards so far, which surprises me... it's one of the five best books I've read from the year. edit
ey814 - Jan 18, 2014
grahammyers Good suggestion. This wasn't a book (or an author) I was aware of, but Shacochis was a NBA finalist in 1993. The Woman Who Lost her Soul is his first novel since then! I'll add it into the model to see how it does.edit
grahammyers - Jan 17, 2014
i think "the woman who lost her soul" by bob shacochis would get some pulitzer love. i thought it was brilliant.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 17, 2014
Marybethking Haha, I thought you didn't put much stock in Publishers Weekly!

"The Goldfinch" has received a lot of positive attention from critics I trust--although I keep hearing it referred to as "Dickensian", which is, for me, a potential mark against it. It is definitely high on my list of books to read, but I'm currently in the middle of Norman Rush's "Subtle Bodies". Rush's distinct voice is really compelling to me, and though I'm only 30 pages in, I'm enjoying it a lot so far.

Haven't read Ozeki's book yet, but it's on the shelf. I know some people here have really enjoyed it--including at least one person who claimed it (and All That Is) to be his favorite book(s) of the year.edit
AlexKerner - Jan 17, 2014
Marybethking I found the Goldinch an incredible tour de force...certainly it isn't perfect and elements of the plot are predictable, but the writing is thoroughly enjoyable and the characters are believable and endearing. I think it speaks to a post-9/11/financial crisis America and so touches on one of the big criteria for the pulitzer. I am currently reading Flamethrowers, which is good writing but not necessarily as capturing as The Goldfinch.edit
EdParks - Jan 17, 2014
It has been a spell since I have "chimed in" so I thought I would comment on the "Early List". Rachel Kushner is without question a prodigious talent. I wouldn't be surprised, or displeased, if she wins. A book that I don't believe has been mentioned at all is MIDDLE C by William H. Gass. The "elephant in the room" is always the selecting jury, and should a Gass disciple be on the jury it very well could end up winning. The book is more accessible (read comprehensible) than previous Gass novels. I feel that the board would delight in giving the award to an acknowledged intellectual, such as Gass. What I don't understand is why Alice McDermott is frequently considered for literary awards. I haven't read SOMEONE, but having read her previous work find her talent, at best, pedestrian. My favorite choices remain Ozeki, Salter and McCann. Only slightly behind would be Kushner and Tartt.edit
ey814 - Jan 16, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @mgardne5 The problem with adding any new variable is a sample size problem, and unrelated to the quality of any new award. The discriminate function analysis essentially looks at what combination of book and author factors best "predict" books that win the Pulitzer. But, there is only one book per year that wins the Pulitzer. If, for example, the Story Prize was included, we would only be able to includee the data from the Pulitzer winners from 2004 onward... nine books. That, is basically, not enough examples of Pulitzer winners to determine much. Think of the differences in book/author performance between, say Tinkers and Goon Squad. Tinkers was a first book by a previously un-nominated author. Goon Squad, on the other hand, won or was nominated for a bunch of awards and Egan had some prior nominations. When you have only a few books in the predictor sample, it makes it impossible to tell what factors really matter. So, I could get data on a lot of variables from 1982 forward, and that makes the sample of "Pulitzer winners" around 30 books, and the analysis can begin to tease out factors from among that larger sample that are, in essence, in common or are strong predictors. So, any new predictor variable (e.g., book or author variable) must have data from at least 1982 on... you can't have missing data in an analysis like this. In 20 years, when the Story Prize is 30 years old, I can probably just use the data from 2004 to 2034 and be able to include it and other prizes that are new now!edit
Marybethking - Jan 16, 2014
I can't believe 'The Son' wasn't nominated by the NBCC. What did you all think of 'Goldfinch'? I stayed away from it because publishers weekly tore it apart. At least 'Someone' made the cut. Tried to read Ruth orzezki's book, but I could read about the grooming habits of cats for so many pages before I wanted to follow suit and lick my arm to get out of reading it. Where are the editors these days? edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 16, 2014
ey814 mgardne5 For what it's worth, I actually think Ben Fountain's "Encounters with Che Guevara" deserved to win. I think it's better than anything that won that year.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 16, 2014
mgardne5 I am unqualified to speak to how this award should be weighted, other than to say this: over the years, it has become clear that those who put together the prediction model cannot accurately assess the value (weight) of a new award as it has no historical indicators to lend it significance. That said, it's an interesting question. (As I mentioned below) the story prize began a new award last year. In addition to the three finalists (one of which will, of course, win the story prize), they began a Story Spotlight Award, reserved for a collection that the Story Prize panel deemed worthy of further recognition.

We seem to be seeing new award categories cropping up within the parameters of these awards with more history--so I wonder if the owners of this site will weigh those winners the same as they would the NBCC Award itself, or will they treat it as a new prediction indicator that remains untested....

I too am on this site at least a couple times a week--and it is great! Thanks for maintaining it, guys! (And thanks to the forum participants for all the interesting thoughts.)edit
ey814 - Jan 15, 2014
@mgardne5 I saw that Marra had won the new NBCC debut author award and meant to mention, so glad you brought it up! Vital Phenomena has gotten quite a bit of support from folks on the discussion board over the year, so the win won't surprise some folks here. Your observation that this new award might limit the number of chances of debut authors to make the actual finalists list is interesting. Makes me wonder how often first books made the NBCC finalist list in the past. You're right, though. that it won't factor into the model, simply because it's brand new and so no data on this from years past. I will say, though, that first novel types of awards are not very good predictors of the Pulitzer. The one that is in my model is the PEN Hemingway award (because it's a long-running award and I have information about the awardee over time), and it's among the weakest predictors. I think only Jhumpa Lahiri's Maladies was a Pulitzer and PEN Hemingway winner. By and large, there are not many first novel/book Pultizer winners. Harding's Tinkers and Lahiri's Maladies are the recent exceptions, but there aren't that many more... off the top of my head, Michener's South Pacific, Harper Lee's Mockingbird, Toole's Confederacy of Dunces are the one's that come to mind... perhaps others can identify more, but there aren't many. Of course, Tinkers reminded us that nothing's impossible!edit
mgardne5 - Jan 15, 2014
I am interested to hear thoughts on the new John Leonard Award initiated by the NBCC for debut authors. It is interesting that the winner is announced at the same time as finalists for the traditional awards. Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won this year, though I do not think anyone has really acknowledged it. My thought is that it is now less likely that a debut author will be a NBCC finalist (and eventual winner), even if the author deserves to also be a finalist. There is no rule that says Marra could not also be a finalist, but it just seems like human nature to let Marra have his debut award and leave him out of the fiction award. As a result, I cannot help but give Marra a mental boost in my personal rankings due to the win. I loved the novel, though I have put off buying a signed first edition.

In any event, the Pulitzer formula obviously does not take this new award into account, and maybe that is okay. How much weight do you give Marra's win?

I would also like to note that I have browsed the website quite a bit over the past year or so. Thank you for the work that goes into the rankings and website in general.edit
JohnZ - Jan 14, 2014
The deeper I get into it, the more I think Alice McDermott's "Someone" might well win the Pulitzer. It is such a beautifully imagined story, very specific in its details, and so sharply and minutely observed that it seems to me to be the kind of prose which gains the attention of members of the Pulitzer jury and board.

In its way, it reminds me of the kind of writing one encounters when reading Marilynne Robinson and Anne Tyler. Though, I should stress, it is in no way derivative of Ms. Robinson's or Ms. Tyler's works. Ms. McDermott clearly has her own style, to be sure. The connection, I think, stems from the manner in which the central characters' voices in all of the authors' novels travel from page to eye to mind to heart: quietly, gently, with a clear sense of offering what is necessary for a reader to glean more fully the lives, the milieus, the feelings, and the conflicts inherent in the mental journey he or she is taking. In effect, these authors' novels teach one how to read them.

There is also the fact that Ms. McDermott has been nominated for the Pulitzer before: "That Night," "At Weddings and Wakes," and "After This." That said, I think if she won for "Someone," it would not be in the form of a consolation prize, as the novel really is beautiful. The detail is so striking that I have found I prefer taking it in small sips, so as to immerse myself in the prose even more, as well as the skill, and to elongate the pleasure of reading it.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 14, 2014
ey814 Having read all three, I can say that Bobcat is a solid collection but the first story is pure gold. Archangel is solid, but something about it didn't always work for me the way Barrett has at times in the past. Saunders is the best of the three, in my opinion, and will very likely win.

I'm more curious what their Story Prize Spotlight Award, which they just started last year with Krys Lee's collection, a collection that would have been otherwise (sadly) overlooked during the award season.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 13, 2014
jfieds2 I also agree about "The Son", however I recommend you finish it, as it all ties together in an interesting way, a way that really explains why we are following each of the three characters and how each has impacted the life of the others. I highly recommend you complete that novel! In any case, I will still be surprised if it doesn't do well in further awards--I'm honestly surprised it hasn't shown up yet as a finalist. It may well be that the momentum of the award season starts to build upon itself: the novels that are noticed early being more likely to be finalists in the later awards. (The film industry is definitely like this.)

In a way, "Someone" will be defying a lot of odds: it is a quiet, smaller novel in a year full of large, ambitious, sprawling novels that demand (by their size and scope alone) not to be ignored. Those larger novels often do well in the Pulitzers. If there was ever a year to disrupt the prediction model, it may be this one, though. I have felt overwhelmed by the amazing, big-name (and debut) high quality fiction. From Noviolet Bulawayo to Anthony Marra to David Gilbert to James Salter to Paul Harding to Donna Tartt to Norman Rush to to Philip Meyer to Jhumpa Lahiri to Alice McDermott--and the list goes on and on--it is honestly hard to know which will be chosen...it is hard to even decide which I would choose.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 13, 2014
jfieds2 Wow--I think four of us just posted at the same time, hahaedit
ey814 - Jan 13, 2014
Also, I would note that the Story Prize finalists were announced for this year:

Archangel by Andrea Barrett

Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

Tenth of December by George Saunders

The Story Prize was established in 2004, and as such, I can't use it as a variable in the Pulitzer prediction (long story, I've gone through it several times, but essentially in order to have enough cases in the "won Pulitzer" category to actually predict it, I have to be able to go back to about 1982 with data from any award/list), but it's a good prize to watch, in part because of the nice $20,000 prize! Barrett won the National Book Award for Ship Fever a number of years ago and was a Pulitzer finalist for Servants of the Map. According to The Story Prize website (http://www.thestoryprize.org/), saunders is the first author to be a repeat nominee, having been a finalist in 2006. Both Barrett and Saunders have received MacArthur "genius" grants (the MacArthur Foundation doesn't like them to be called that, though!). edit
ey814 - Jan 13, 2014
Cool! Adichie and Marias are not eligible for the Pulitzer because they are not U.S. citizens. Here's the updated list with these factored in:

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2. Someone by Alice McDermott

3. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

4. The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

5. Tenth of December by George Saunders

6. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

7. The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri

8. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

9. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

10. Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush

11. Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

12. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

13. The Two Hotel Francorts by David Leavitt

14. The Circle by Dave Eggers

15. All that Is by James Salter

Obviously, Ozeki jumps up to the top tier with this (as, I believe EdParks predicted!). There are still enough points remaining to be added in to result in changes in the top 5 positions, particularly if Ozeki wins the NBCC award. If Tartt or McDermott win the NBCC, however, they will have an insurmountable total. We won't know about NBCC winner until mid-March, it's the last thing announced before the Pulitzer is announced, so between now and then, it could get pretty close up at the top. The next announcements we're looking for are the PEN/Faulkner finalists announcement, usually end of February and the ALA Notable books list, also in late February. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 13, 2014
"The Goldfinch" and "Someone" probably edge closer to being pulitzer contender in the prediction model. =)edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 13, 2014
The NBCC finalists announced: http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-national-book-critics-circle-announces-2013-awards-finalists-20140113,0,6401252.story#axzz2qJHN4hRiedit
jfieds2 - Jan 13, 2014
Well, the NBCC finalists are in.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, AMERICANAH (Knopf)

Alice McDermott, SOMEONE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Javier Marias, THE INFATUATIONS (Knopf)

Ruth Ozeki, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING (Viking)

Donna Tartt, THE GOLDFINCH (Little, Brown)

At the risk of stepping on Mike's toes, I bet that this will cement THE GOLDFINCH and SOMEONE as the favorites. I really enjoyed SOMEONE and given that Alice McDermott has been a Pulitzer finalist three times, I am pulling for her. I thought that THE GOLDFINCH was expertly crafted, and wonderfully written (I might have even enjoyed the book more than SOMEONE), yet I am not convinced of it as a Pulitzer winner. While it is certainly a big, ambitious work, to me it lacked the literary complexity of recent winners -- ORPHAN MASTER and GOOD SQUAD, specifically. Even TINKERS was complex in it's tight and understated way. SOMEONE is similarly understated and yet complex, in fact. I never finished THE SON, but even though I wasn't wow-ed by it, I think that it has the kind of the complexity that I look for in a Pulitzer winner.

What do you all think?edit
AlexKerner - Jan 13, 2014
so the National Book Critics Circle finalists are:

Donna Tartt "The Goldfinch,

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie "Americanah"

Ruth Ozeki "A Tale for the Time Being"

Alice McDermott' "Someone"

Javier Marias "The Infatuations" edit
AlexKerner - Jan 10, 2014
ey814 CoryDonnelly Almost done the Goldfinch and have to admit that is a pretty stellar novel and kind of screams Pulitzer in terms of themes and breadth. edit
Dalebert - Jan 9, 2014
ey814 Very interesting, thanks for explaining this. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 8, 2014
ey814 Dalebert I agree about Robinson--and I'm also excited about Ward Just's novel. I thought his pulitzer finalist was great!edit
ey814 - Jan 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Dalebert I should note that while I think it's unlikely that Cunningham and McMurtry will win a second Pulitzer, I do think Marilynne Robinson is one of those authors who could. Updike won both of his for linked novels (Rabbit books) and I could easily see Robinson winning a second Pulitzer for another in the Gilead series. Her first book, Housekeeping, was a Pulitzer finalist and she is very well regarded among writers and critics. edit
ey814 - Jan 7, 2014
Dalebert Nope, both were new to me as well. I knew of David Leavitt, just didn't know he had a new book out this year. Both authors were past NBA finalists and their books made the NY Time Top 100. edit
ey814 - Jan 7, 2014
Dalebert Good questions. I started, several years ago, with the assumption that while one could never predict with any great certainty which book would win the Pulitzer, there probably were variables that could be used to get at least make an educated choice. The two main categories that seemed to be amenable to being predictor variables (because, of course, what any judge likes/dislikes/thinks is not something we can really know) were how the book was doing in the current year lists/awards and how the book's author had done in the past. With regard to past performance, the assumption is that authors who write books that get nominated for awards or make "best of" lists will continue to write books that are noteworthy. That is, I think, in general true, though lots of authors are one-hit-wonders with regard to lists and award nominations! The discriminant function analysis I use to generate the weighted values essentially throws out any variable entered into the model that has no influence on the variables to be predicted (won the Pulitzer), so any that remain in the model have some influence. But, the weighted values for these past performance variables are nowhere near the value of things like being nominated for the NBCC or, even the NBA. For example, the book being that year's NBA winner is worth .165. The author being a past NBA winner is only worth .035. The top 8 predictor variables in value all relate to the book's performance. The highest valued "author past-performance" variable is having won the PEN/Faulkner within the last 5 years (.147). Of course, you can see, that's nearly teh value you get when the book wins the NBA, so some of the past performance predictor variables are pretty useful. I think mainly it just says that people who write well will continue to write well. But, I also think that despite trying to be completely objective, the judging process is not a blind review process, and judges are probably influenced by knowing that the author has done well in the past... maybe predisposed to like it? And yes, having won a Pulitzer previously actually has a negative value (-.037) since it so rarely happens. Enon was on the NY Times top 100 books list, but that's it so far. Again, if it makes the NBCC finalist list, it will shoot right up there, although I think there's little chance he'll get a second Pulitzer so soon. edit
ey814 - Jan 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Dalebert Keep us posted on what you think about "On Such a Full Sea", Chang-rae Lee's new one. It's getting good reviews and I think it's definitely one to pay attention to for the next year's competitions. Also out this month worth watching are Ben Marcus' "Leaving the Sea" and Richard Powers' new novel, Orfeo.

For the rest of the year, or mainly the first half of the year, the books I think that will warrant watching are:

Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore

Can't and Won't: Stories by Lydia Davis

And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

Off Course by Michelle Huneven

American Romantic by Ward Just

In Paradise by Peter Mathiessen

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Josua Ferris

American Innovations: Stories by Rivka Galchen

Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist

Next LIfe Might be Kinder by Howard NOrman

The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner

Problesm with People: Stories by David Guterson

The Last Kind Word Saloon by Larry McMurtry

Plus, Marilynne Robinson has a new novel out sometime in 2014 titled Lila, based, I think, on a character from Gilead or Home. edit
ey814 - Jan 7, 2014
@CoryDonnelly I liked Transatlantic as well... I wouldn't at all be surprised to see it on some of the award lists. Funny enough, I read The Good Lord Bird right after I finished Transatlantic, and had the experience of having Frederick Douglass as a character in two consecutive novels published in 2013! I thought Lowlands was well written, but I thought it lagged in the middle (I thought the scenes early in the book were the best), and overall was a bit disappointed, though I'm sure it will do well in the awards. I'm 1/3 of the way through Goldfinch, and like it a lot... that would be my recommendation.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 7, 2014
Dalebert I'm excited about Yiyun Li, Molly Antopol, and Michael Cunningham. Already half way through Chang-Rae Lee's newest (picked up an early copy over the holiday).edit
Dalebert - Jan 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Not a Pulitzer contender, but I think I'm most excited for Murakami's newest...edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 6, 2014
CoryDonnelly Haven't read either, but I'm sure both are great. If you're a fan of Lahiri's, that's the way to go. If you're a fan of large Dickensian tomes, then The Goldfinch is apparently a good bet. =D I also highly recommend The Son, Someone, and Enon.edit
JpCambert - Jan 6, 2014
BRAKiasaurus I can't stress to you strongly enough how much I loved this book and what an incredibly strong PP "feel" I got from it. Precisely the type of multi-generational trip down all sorts of American issues (homosexuality, AIDS, Cancer, love, loss, friendship....) the PP folks generally love to reward. I can't believe it's not getting more PP hype than it is, to be honest. I would be shocked it it were not, at the very least, a finalist.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 6, 2014
Well, we have hit that time of year when we start to get definitive prediction lists from the owners of this site--and also that (awkward?) time when, with nowhere more relevant to post such things,very preliminary 2015 lists and suggestions begin to show up in this thread. Allow me to be first to post something irrelevant to the 2014 discussion.

The Millions has posted the first half of its "most anticipated" 2014 book preview:

CoryDonnelly - Jan 6, 2014
or The Lowlands, any recommendations? edit
CoryDonnelly - Jan 6, 2014
I hope Transatlantic picks up some momentum, it's probably one of my top three books I've read this year. The downside of the book is that it may possibly suffer from many of the events taking place outside of America. Either way it was an excellent novel. I'm trying to decide between picking up a copy of The Goldfinchedit
JohnZ - Jan 5, 2014
ey814 Dalebert Marybethking I believe Lonesome Dove was also an NBA finalist; and, of course, it did go on to win Larry McMurtry a Pulitzer Prize.edit
Dalebert - Jan 5, 2014
ey814 Has anyone read Two Hotel Francorts or We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves? Don't recall hearing anything about them before now.edit
Dalebert - Jan 5, 2014
ey814 Thanks for doing all this work! I've been looking forward to this list for quite some time. One question though, how does author's past performance (i.e., from previous novels) effect their position on this list and why? Assuming the judges were completely objective I would think that past performance would not matter at all, except in the sense that if you have written one good book then you are likely to write another. So shouldn't past performance be irrelevant since the Pulitzer goes to the best book of the year, and not to a very good book by a deserving author (or perhaps the judges are biased?)? Also, does previously winning a Pulitzer actually hurt you in this calculation since it's unlikely that you would win twice? I still haven't read Enon yet, but with all the talk about it I was surprised Harding didn't make the top 15. edit
ey814 - Jan 3, 2014
AlexKerner Good question. Winning the NBA is not a very strong predictor of winning the Pulitzer, but it is stronger than not winning it or not being a finalist. As I mentioned, at this point, we're missing a lot of data that will eventually be used in the final prediction model, so for now, getting points from the three sources i mentioned previously (NBA performance, NYTimes best of list, author prior award history) gives a book a boost. The weighted points given to a book for winning the NBA is .165. That's not much compared to, say, being an NBCC finalist (.769), winning the NBCC (.633), or being listed on the American Library Association Notable book list (.370), which are the three strongest predictors. Of course, only one book got the .165 points for the NBA win... Good Lord Bird. In addition, Good Lord Bird got points for being on the NYTimes 100 best books list (.109) and for being an NBA finalist (.251). Goldfinch was in the NYTimes 100 Best and the NYTimes Notable books (.343) lists, but not any points from the NBA process... and neither Tartt nor McBride got any points for prior award nominations or wins. Kushner got the NYTimes 100 best and notable book points, the NBA finalist points, plus she had been an NBA finalist before (for her first novel). Same with Saunders. Unless the front runners also do well in the NBCC, PEN Faulkner, LA Times awards or show up on the ALA Notable list, they'll not be a the top. I certainly can see the top five doing well in those award/lists, though, so I suspect we'll see them hanging around in future lists. But, it will just take being on the NBCC finalist list to move a book up to the top five, so we'll have to see what that list looks like to have a better sense of things.edit
AlexKerner - Jan 3, 2014
ey814 question...considering that the NBA winner almost never wins the Pulitzer, isn't that a factor that should push The Good Lord Bird below The Goldfinch, which appears to have more momentum gearing up to the Pulitzer? edit
ey814 - Jan 2, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus What got books from Tan, Eggers, Fowler, Salter, and Leavitt in at this stage is that they were on the NY Times lists plus the authors have prior award nominations (NBA in most cases)....edit
ey814 - Jan 2, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus The Son got points for making the NY Times Notable books list, but no points in the NBA process, and Meyer doesn't have any prior awards or nominations (that are in the formula). The Son is something like 20th on the list at the moment... Vital was about the same story and is in about the same place. I fully expect both to move into the running as we get more factors to fill in. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 2, 2014
ey814 PS--Thanks for the list! The fun really begins now! =Dedit
BRAKiasaurus - Jan 2, 2014
ey814 I must say: overall, not a surprising list with two exceptions: "constellation of vital phenomenon" and "the son". These books are gone through no fault of your own, of course (as it is based on a compilation of objectively weighed data, I assume)--but still, I'm very surprised they didn't make the cut. We'll have to see how these fair as the awards season progresses!edit
ey814 - Jan 1, 2014
I've sent Tom the first prediction list (as of end of December), so he'll be posting it soon, but I don't think he'll mind if I post it here for early speculation. Keep in mind that the prediction model uses 36 predictor variables to determine those that best predict the Pulitzer winner. Ten of those variables relate to how the book in question has done in the current year's award nominations and wins, with the remaining variables pertaining to the author's past award nomination and wins record. Seven of the "book specific factors" are among the 10 best predictors, and right now we're missing six of the 10 "book specific factors" because most awards have not been announced. So, this list reflects, mainly, an author's past history with awards and nominations, the book's performance in the NY Times best of the year lists, and the book's performance in the National Book Awards. The National Book Critics Circle Award finalists are usually announced at the end of January, and being a NBCC finalist is, far and away, the strongest predictor of the Pulitzer, so we'll know more by the end of January, hopefully. For now, here's the top 15 books on the end of December prediction list:

1. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

2. Tenth of Decmeber by George Saunders

3. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

5. The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri

6. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

7. Someone by Alice McDermott

8. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

9. Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush

10. Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

11. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

12. The Two Hotel Francorts by David Leavitt

13. The Circle by Dave Eggers

14. All that Is by James Salter

15. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowleredit
Dalebert - Dec 27, 2013

Thank you both for your responses. I realize it's probably a longshot, but I think given the amount I paid for the book (not much) and the fact that I'm likely to never meet Salter in person I think it's worth a try. If I get anything back I'll be sure to let you all know!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 26, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus @Marybethking "someone" was beautiful and strong (but in a quiet way). I can't decide how it will stack up against some of the other contenders. It has been a strong year all around.edit
Trish888 - Dec 23, 2013
Dalebert I would not recommend sending a book directly to the author, if you can obtain his/her signature. First, getting his address would be difficult, publishers are very protective of the author, and by the way, a publisher will NOT forward a book to the author for signing. Second, by the time you pay for return shipping of the signed book, your expenses are very high. If you want to try it, I suppose it wouldn't hurt, but I have also heard that Salter is very reluctant to sign books. edit
ey814 - Dec 23, 2013
Dalebert Marybethking Since you asked:

Books nominated for NBA that have won the Pulitzer:

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

Books (from above list) that won the NBA and the Pulitzer:

1982-Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

1983-The Color Purple by Alice Walker 1994-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx edit
ey814 - Dec 23, 2013
Dalebert Ah, perhaps unrelated to Pulitzer predictions,but definitely related to collecting, which is one of the purposes of Pprize.com! I think mailing books to authors for signatures used to be a more common practice. The trick is always figuring out how to include return postage or a return addressed and stamped envelope that will protect the book. I've been wary of doing it because of concern about the condition of the book once it made its way back to me, but several years ago, my brother sent several books he'd bought to some of the big name authors (Morrison, Roth, Delillo). Actually, the standard way to do it is to send it to the author's publisher, agent, or publicist, and that takes a little digging to find out. Morrison and Roth never returned (thus,books lost), but Delillo did. In fact, my brother was soliciting it on my behalf, so that copy of Falling Man, which made it through the mail process still in fine condition, is inscribed to me, with the inscription "remember the day" (referring to 9/11, the topic of the novel) and signed "Warmly, Don Delillo." It's one of my favorite books, both because of the inscription and because it was from my brother. So, does that mean you should send your copy of All That Is to Salter's publisher, agent, or publicist? Only if you can tolerate it never coming back or potentially coming back in rougher shape. Even if it does come back, it may take six months or more. An alternative might be to send a bookplate to be signed... books with signed bookplates are less desirable than books themselves signed, but if there's a risk of the book not coming back, it might be a reasonable compromise. edit
ey814 - Dec 23, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I think it's one to watch... there was a discussion on this board about it a few months back, which is where it came onto my radar screen. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 21, 2013
I haven't yet read "The Goldfinch"--though I do have a copy--but it seems to be topping a lot of year-end lists. Is it, like "The Interestings" a potential (and overlooked by us) candidate?edit
Dalebert - Dec 20, 2013
Marybethking I think there are a few NBA winners and finalists that have gone on to the win the Pulitzer. The Known World and Martin Dressler were both NBA finalists who then won the Pulitzer. Also, I believe The Fixer and Stories of Katherine Porter won both the NBA and Pulitzer. I'm sure there are others.edit
Dalebert - Dec 20, 2013
Unrelated to Pulitzer predictions, but I recall from that Sotheby's auction post a while back that the seller would often obtain signatures by mailing books directly to the author. Has anyone ever tried this and been successful? I just found a copy of All That Is in my local used book store and I'd love to get it signed, but I've heard Salter doesn't do too many signing events anymore, so not sure how else to get a signed copy that doesn't cost a small fortune.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 20, 2013
Marybethking By the way, I'm reading "Someone" right now. About 100 pages in. The writing is strong (as is always the case with McDermott); the plot is gentle, the structure subtle (so far). Took me about 30 pages before I was ready to fully invest, before I was captivated, but now I'm really enjoying it. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 20, 2013
Marybethking BRAKiasaurus Why do you feel the language in C of VP to be too contemporary for the Pulitzer? Usually, when someone says that, it conjures up Richard Price's books, to me (but of course Junot Diaz undermines that theory). Just curious.

As to "All That Is", if nothing else, it sounds like EdParks (down below) and you are going to have words over this book, haha--he suggested that it and "A Tale for the Time Being" are the only two worthy this year of the Pulitzer.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 20, 2013
@Marybethking perhaps so, perhaps not--either way, it does make me wonder if the hype is deserved (regardless of how inflated the price became during auction).edit
Marybethking - Dec 18, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus @jfieds2 beginning writers like NFL quarterbacks should not earn 2 million dollars. edit
Marybethking - Dec 18, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus 'Sea of Hooks,' read and learn my friend. Maybe, I'm not a big poetry person, but my definition of poetry isn't what the trash in the street says to me. And, if it is, it best have a good story to tell instead of just poetically floating in the breeze for pages upon pages. Constellation of VP love story was a bit too contemporary in language for the Pulitzer. Enon was good, plot wasn't strong enough for a pulitzer to me. All That Is, I'm sorry this guy might be the modern Hemingway, but it was all Greek to me. The only two books I would even consider if I were on the board (dream job FYI haha) would be 'Someone' or 'The Son.' And, in my opinion 'Someone' isn't as harsh, but the writing and plot are better. I just liked people in the trees, not pulitzer material to me.edit
ey814 - Dec 18, 2013
@Marybethking I haven't read Someone yet, but it's on my list to read. McDermott is a multiple Pulitzer finalist, so in my mind, anything she puts out should be given serious consideration. There are numerous NBA finalists that have ended up winning the Pulitzer... there are several NBA winners that have also won the Pulitzer, though it's not as strong of a predictor for the Pulitzer as one would think. I haven't read People in the Trees... who wrote it?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 18, 2013
"The Interestings" also seems to be getting a lot of year-end buzz. I've only read one novel by Wolitzer--and really enjoyed it--anyone else think her book is a possible contender?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 18, 2013
Marybethking Have you read "All That Is" or not yet? Also, what about "Sea of Hooks" did you find to be horrid? I really liked the writing of the first few pages but haven't read it yet. (It seems harsh to suggest that an intern trying to stake a claim was responsible for promoting it [twice] in pub. weekly, so I wonder what prompted such a hyperbolic reaction.) "Someone" likely stands a strong chance--she's gotten a lot of great reviews this year for the book, and seems primed to be a part of the rest of the awards season.

As for me, I'm hoping for "All That Is", "The Son", "Enon" or "Constellation of Vital Phenomenon" do well. I haven't yet read "Someone", but it's on my list. edit
Marybethking - Dec 17, 2013
Hello all My vote is for Someone by Alice McDermott. I've read the 'Son, Constellation of VP, the Woman Who Lost Her Soul, Enon, and Life After Life.' Can anyone recall if a book has ever been shortlisted for the national book award but gone on to win the pulitzer? Someone is just so gorgeously simple. Also, what did people think of 'The People in the Trees?' It's another solid vote in my opinion. I haven't read 'All That Is' yet. So many books, so little time!!!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 17, 2013
jfieds2 BRAKiasaurus Not to get ahead of ourselves, but as you work in publishing, have you read "city of fire" by Garth Risk Hallsburg? Curious if it's worthy of the buzz.edit
jfieds2 - Dec 9, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I got a galley early in the year and haven't gotten to it. I believe there is some question of Adiche's citizenship, as she lives between the US and Nigeria...edit
jfieds2 - Dec 9, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus I have a first of ALL THAT IS, yet unread. I bought it but then didn't feel compelled to read it, since the things I heard were so mixed. But given that 1) I work in publishing 2) am also reading the (nonfiction) book HOTHOUSE about the founding of FSG in about the same period as Salter's novel is set and 3) got encouragement from a trusted source, I think it will be a Christmas week read for me.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 5, 2013
Regarding the NY Times 10 best books list, "Americanah" is a novel that has been largely overlooked by our group....has anyone read it? Opinions about it?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 5, 2013
ey814 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/books/review/the-10-best-books-of-2013.html?hpw&rref=books&_r=0 Looks like you're all set! Haha--hope it's not a huge chore. I always look forward to the prelim and beyond. edit
ey814 - Dec 4, 2013
@Dalebert. Thanks for the info on the print run. Yeah, I saw the abebooks.com offerings, pretty pricy, I'm still hoping to run across one on a bookstore shelf somewhere, but if it is selected as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, announced in January, I'll bite the bullet and pay a premium, since that's a strong predictor of the Pulitzer! edit
ey814 - Dec 4, 2013
BRAKiasaurus End of December. It's a very "preliminary" list, taking into account only the National Book Awards and the "best of 2013" lists. As soon as the NY Times releases its 10 best books list (they've already released their Notable books, or top 100), I'll begin to set up the database! edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 4, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus I just picked up my copy of "Good Lord Bird". I look forward to reading it--and am curious how it will compare to the other books I've read this year.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 4, 2013
ey814 I bet you can find a first edition--they are starting to turn up in used bookstores in the bay area. I just checked my own. It's a first ed., but I love Salter, so pre-ordered a copy.

You'll find one, man!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 3, 2013
I always forget, but when do we start to see the first list posted here?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Dec 3, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus I certainly think it stands a good chance! I'd love to see him win, no question.edit
Dalebert - Dec 3, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus I heard the first print run was only 25,000 copies. There are a couple on ebay/abebooks but you will definitely pay a premium for them. edit
ey814 - Dec 2, 2013
Finished The Lowland on a long flight back from Germany yesterday. I liked it, but thought it dragged in the middle... the scenes in the opening chapters in India were very well done, and it picks up gravitas in the final 1/3 of the book. The writing is precise and unpretentious, which I think characterizes Lahiri's style, and makes for engaging reading, certainly. It'll be one of the 10 best books I've read from 2013, but not in my top 5. I also finished Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys, which, though it seems like it was published in 2012, is a 2013 publication. I must confess that I didn't share the Pulitzer committee's enthusiasm with Olive Kitteridge, though when I read it, I did appreciate how well written it was. Olive was not a very likeable person, but she sort of grew on you, and I suspect that if I read the book again, I might like it better the second time. I had a very hard time liking any of the characters in The Burgess Boys, and though they sort-of-kind-of redeem themselves in the end, it wasn't enough to win me over, ultimately. I've begun reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, and have high hopes for it given the comments here and the reviews of the book. edit
ey814 - Dec 2, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I thought Richard Ford's comments about James Salters' novel should get us to pay more attention to that as a Pulitzer option, though I think we've commented on the quality of the book before:

"James Salter's novel All That Is (Picador). Not in my (admittedly failing) memory have I read a novel that, at its crucialest moment, made me just stand straight up out of my chair and have to walk around the room for several minutes. Laid into the customary Salterish verbal exquisiteness and vivid intelligence is such remarkable audacity and dark-hued verve about us poor humans. It's a great novel."

I've still not been able to get a first edition of All That Is... it's a tough find.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 30, 2013
New York Times has released its notable books of 2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/books/review/100-notable-books-of-2013.html?_r=0edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 27, 2013

With a grain of salt, but interesting picks! =Dedit
mrbenchly - Nov 26, 2013
BRAKiasaurus No. Sadly, that was where I was looking. That's too bad. I do plan on reading the novel at some point.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 26, 2013
mrbenchly Unfortunately, when I went to their website and clicked on the link that said $45, it took me to a page where they were selling them for $112 (which is a bit out of reach for me). Oh well...do you have a link where it is actually $45?

Thanks for the headsup, in any case!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 25, 2013
mrbenchly Whoa! Cool--I may have to check that out. No idea if there is value in it or not, but I'm always willing to support authors whenever I can.

Do you plan on reading it yourself?edit
mrbenchly - Nov 25, 2013
BRAKiasaurus FYI, Lindsay Hill had a reading at Broadway Books in Portland, OR two weeks ago and I confirmed this morning that all copies of the book currently in the store are signed. And if you are not afraid to gamble and you think this book has a shot at the Pulitzer, Arundel Press is still selling $45 limited edition (75 total) signed chapbooks of the 2008 Lindsay Hill poem "Sea of Hooks" that is featured as the epigraph in the 2013 Lindsay Hill novel "Sea of Hooks." I have no idea what kind of post-Pulitzer value that would have!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 23, 2013
I picked up "Sea of Hooks"--I was just fascinated by 1. the fact that a first edition is going to be difficult to find due to it having been published by an indie press (I believe), 2. I love a great book, especially when it's an underdog and 3. the fact that the author is a poet who wrote in short snippets over the course of almost 20 years intrigued me. (The process almost sounds reminiscent of "Tinkers".) And finally, it is set in the Bay area, I believe.

I will try to read it in the coming months and will report back. =Dedit
EdParks - Nov 23, 2013

I read it and was quite disappointed. It was more than "loosely inspired" by the Amanda Knox case. It was exactly the Amanda Knox case, only with fictitious character names and a cartwheel substituted for the splits. Much, much too close to the actual case. I much preferred her novel A Partial History of Lost Causes. A book which mirrored the life of Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov, but not nearly as closely as Cartwheel mirrored that of Amanda Knox. Unlike A Partial History of Lost Causes, which had other aspects of the story besides Kasparov's political activities; Cartwheel only had the Amanda Knox trial and its repercussions. Jennifer duBois has talent, but if she insists on writing fiction about actual recent events she, in my opinion, needs to distance herself more from the actual facts.edit
ey814 - Nov 23, 2013
As BRAKiasaurus noted with information about the Publisher's Weekly "best books of 2013" list, we're in the season of best of lists, and the Washington Post joins in with its list of the 10 best books (fiction and non-fiction) of the year:


From fiction books, the WaPo picks The Son, The Good Lord Bird, A Conversation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, How the Light Gets in (Louise Penny.... looks to me like a crime or mystery novel) and Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs. I've not read anything by Claire Messud. Her first novel was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and she was longlisted for her third novel (actually two novels) for the Man Booker Prize. She was born in the US, but grew up in Australia and Canada, so must have dual citizenship in one of those two latter countries (to be eligible for the Man Booker). I don't recall anyone discussing this book... any insights?

The Post also published its Notable Books of 2013 list (http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/notable-fiction-of-2013/2013/11/21/e9a81232-35b4-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html).edit
ey814 - Nov 21, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus Winning the NBA seems to be the kiss of death for a book in the Pulitzer race, so I'd take that into account. But, I figure we should keep the Good Lord Bird in mind when that time comes. Its themes of slavery and the civil war certainly are American themes! I still put The Son at the top of my list.... but we'll know more when the National Book Critics Circle finalists are announced in January or February. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 21, 2013
Jennifer Dubois has a new novel out--anyone read it? She seems like a good candidate for prizes in general--her work is not very America-centric (for whatever that is worth), but she has seen much acclaim recently.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 21, 2013
ey814 Congrats on the prediction! So how do you think it stacks up as a contender for the Pulitzer? I haven't read the other books in contention, but have read "The Son", "Enon", "Tenth of December" and next on the list are Marra's novel and Norman Rush's book.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 21, 2013
ey814 JohnZ Glad you liked it--it is ultimately an uplifting story, but I really thought it was brilliant. And yeah, when I saw him, I loved hearing what he had to say.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 21, 2013
@ey814 How do you think it stacks up as a Pulitzer contender?edit
ey814 - Nov 20, 2013
@JohnZ Speedy recovery! I finished Enon and liked it, but thought it was too relentlessly depressing, until I heard Harding speak last week, and his comments on the book, his thoughts on writing it, and such made me like it more. edit
ey814 - Nov 20, 2013
That should be rooting, not roofing. :-). edit
ey814 - Nov 20, 2013
On an airplane, so just a quick comment that I'm roofing for James McBride's The Good Lord Bird for the NBA tonight. I've read all the finalists except Pynchon's book, and McBride's was my favorite. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 19, 2013
They leave off a number of books that I think we have all enjoyed (Enon, The Son, Someone, etc.) but they also suggest books like "Sea of Hooks" which has gone unmentioned so far. Not sure how useful this list is, but last year they brought a couple wonderful books to my attention (like Lucia Perillo's collection of short stories)--so they are worth considering...because who knows!

JohnZ - Nov 15, 2013
I haven't posted in a while, but with the NBA coming up in a week, I thought I'd check in and see what's happening on the site. I like the long list idea, though I was surprised that A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and Someone were left off the short list. I thought McDermott would be recognized, and Marra's first novel has generated from some very positive reviews. Of the nominees, I have Tenth of December, The Lowland, and Bleeding Edge -- all of which I have yet to read.

Overall, I think the NBA list is interesting. Though the writers recognized are quite well-known, and that almost never happens with regard to this group. But Pynchon, Lahiri, Saunders, etc. -- they're writers about whom many of us have heard.

Things have been hectic lately. I've gone through some medical concerns, and I've been tired -- not just from being poked and prodded and scanned, but also from getting back on my feet and returning to work. That said, I didn't read much during my convalescence, and now I've a stack of books through which to get. It's both a pleasant and somewhat maddening predicament: Books written by authors whom I admire, but where to begin?

I've started Enon, and while I'm enjoying it, I think it's a book I'll be reading slowly. Heavy stuff. Harding is a good writer, though, and I suppose I'm willing to brave the rather purgatorial waters of the story so that I may enjoy his prose. From page one, however, it's strong stuff. Especially, I think, for anyone who has known grief and loss on a very personal level. This seems to me to be a book that will take a slow, sedate, and unflinching look at a human being crippled by the death of a loved one. I'm expecting little in the way of mirth. But who knows? I could be wrong.

One book that has mentioned quite a bit by you guys is The Son. I don't have it yet, as I need to save the money so that I may buy it. I did read the first few pages, and they were enjoyable. But truth be told, the prose didn't particularly grab me. I couldn't help but think of McMurtry, whom I like very much. I would hate to read this and grapple with comparisons. Given the approbation paid to it here, however, I'm guessing I will read it.

I did get A Permanent Member of the Family by Banks, and it looks to be good. The first story in the collection, "Former Marine," immediately grabs your attention. It is my hope that the rest of the stories do, as well. Andre Dubus III also has a new collection, but I have yet to get it. I like his writing (especially House of Sand and Fog), and it's always nice when he has something new to offer.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 12, 2013
@jfieds2 @BRAKiasaurus Yepedit
ey814 - Nov 12, 2013
@DustySpines By the way, did you go to the Brooklyn Book Festival this year?edit
ey814 - Nov 12, 2013
@DustySpines The Son is still at the top of my list for this year's books, though I really liked The Good Lord Bird and Colum McCann's Transatlantic. I just finished Harding's Enon, and I did keep thinking that you could tell that he was Marilyn Robinson's student. I thought Enon was rather unrelenting... though certainly well written. Reading Lahiri's Lowland right now and like it, though not as much as some others. The good thing about the longlist was that it started up the awards season a month sooner! It will be interesting to see how many NBA long list books make other lists/awards. edit
jfieds2 - Nov 12, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I believe that the prize is only given to Canadian citizens, so only someone with dual citizenship would qualify for the Pulitzer, anyway.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 7, 2013
http://www.scotiabank.com/gillerprize/files/13/11/news_110513_lc.html Not sure how much this bears on the Pulitzer, but posting it here for anyone interested. =)edit
BRAKiasaurus - Nov 6, 2013
EdParks Awesome, man--that's exactly what I was wondering, and you are a wonderful advocate for the book. SO, with that said, I will pick it up today. =)edit
EdParks - Nov 5, 2013

My introduction to Ruth Ozeki was in 1998 when she was touring with her first novel My Year in Meats. Ruth has somewhat of a theatrical background and I had for over twenty years said that she gave the best reading performance by an author that I have ever seen. That held true until I saw Jeffrey Eugenides earlier this year "perform" an unpublished story where he did multiple voices in a forty-five minute reading. Ultimately, I liked Ruth's reading more than her first book. Her second novel All Over Creation was far superior to "Meats". Now, after ten years she publishes A Tale for the Time Being. So first of all I was already a fan. Prior to publication Ruth (again her background) produced a book trailer which sets up the book beautifully. What I found most compelling about the novel is that it covers virtually every major social issue that is relevant today. Important issues such as bullying, teen suicide, corporate downsizing, effects of past wars, pollution, global warming, weather disasters, caring for aging parents, the struggle to produce art, and I could go on and on. The writing is sensitive, thoughtful, and vivid. It remains my favorite book of the year and is easily in my top ten all time favorite books. As it applies to the Pulitzer, who knows? Ruth has dual citizenship (US and Canada), but the novel takes place largely in British Columbia and Japan. Although the Nao character spent her early, formative years in California's Silicon Valley. But, after last year's prize is that really a concern? The book's structure is also unique. The little girl Nao's life and the life of her family is a large part of the novel, yet it is conveyed only through the character Ruth reading the diary that has washed up on the shore of the island on which she lives in B.C. While I am a collector, I am really just a reader and it boils down to these simple facts; A Tale for the Time Being is a great story, well written, with things to ponder once you are finished reading. Check out the book trailer on Ruth's website Ozekiland.com, or just google the book title and go to videos. But please, please read A Tale for the Time Being.edit
DustySpines - Nov 3, 2013
@ey814 I agree the UK is the true first by far. Interesting that multiple printings of the uS edition were everywhere. She is such an unpleasant signer, I kind of root against her to be honest. edit
DustySpines - Nov 3, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I had the opposite inclination, thinking Infant Monkeys was brilliant and Lark and Termite overhyped and forgettable! Quiet Dell, based on the reviews, sounds like more fun to me. edit
DustySpines - Nov 3, 2013
@ey814 For my money as a reader/collector, The Son and Tenth of December easily top the list of likely prize books. Kushner's not really my style, and Paul Harding increasingly strikes me as "Marilyn Robinson lite" which is not to say I won't end up reading their new offerings. McDermott's which I'm reading now, will likely be in Pulitzer discussion, but I am biased since she explained some of the book's secrets during a recent talk at the Brooklyn Public Library. Never read McBride and am looking forward to it. I enjoyed Tom Drury's Pacific and was baffled that The Son was left off and Pynchon out on. Lethem has gotten tiresome and Tartt is not a literary writer in my opinion. Of course these are all the opinions of someone wholly unschooled in literature. @ey814 By the way, how did you react to the expansion of the NBA to a long list? edit
DustySpines - Nov 3, 2013
@ey814 thanks for that info--just another way Irving is a real pain in the ass for collectors! I should have jumped in on this earlier but I think you've covered it. The market tends to price "true" firsts (country where first published no matter how idiosyncratic the process is ) higher and I am of that persuasion! I tend to strictly observe the most credible publication dates I can find--I argue little details matter in a collecting field where we are collectively deluded into accepting that the absence of a "1" erases all value!--but you can follow the flag if you like, or madly secure all the first printings in the world like @ey814 and I do. @ksryan there are abundant decent booksellers where you can get signed UK firsts as long as you're willing to wait for shipping and pay dearly. It's the Canadian firsts that are a pain since smaller print runs and authors don't tour in US as much. (Amazon UK and Ca do tend to send well packed books, but Amazon US is pathological about sending later printings so beware.)edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 31, 2013
EdParks Ed, I loved "Enon". In some ways, "Tinkers" was much more layered and complex, and I loved it more, but "Enon" is easily one of the best books of the year--deserving of any awards it wins. I'm currently reading "The Flamethrowers" and have read "The Son" (which was also a wonderful novel); Salter's book is next on my list. I was wondering, however: what was it about "A Tale for the Time Being" that you enjoyed? I havent' read it and am very curious about your endorsement, because (other than the Booker), I feel like that novel has been largely overlooked. It seems like the kind of novel that could well be a finalist (or even a dark horse) for the Pulitzer. Is the writing inspiring (as Salter's and Harding's are)? Just hoping you'd elaborate on your opinions about the book. =)edit
EdParks - Oct 29, 2013
I happened to see Paul Harding at Purdue University on October 22. What was surprising, due to the dark nature of his novels, is how totally jovial and engaging he is in person. I much preferred Enon to his Pulitzer Prize winning novel Tinkers. I just finished reading Donna Tartt's novel The Goldfinch. I am, yet again, perplexed that neither Tartt or Elizabeth Gilbert were given any consideration for the National Book Award. ( And I suspect they will not be considered for the Pulitzer, as well.) Once again I found both books superior to any of the other National Book Award short listed finalists. I still maintain that Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being and James Salter's All That Is are securely at the top of this years best published novels. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 28, 2013
ey814 Enon may be a good followup as it is beautiful, wonderfully written, but extremely heavy. Enjoy it--I'm rooting for it for prize season. So far "Enon" and "The Son" are my two favorite books of the year.edit
ey814 - Oct 28, 2013
I finished James McBride's The Good Lord Bird, and enjoyed it a lot. Part of the reason is that I live in Kansas, near the KS-Missouri border, so John Brown's escapades strike close to home! The book was funny but also, I think, depicts the "wretched institution" that was slavery. It doesn't have the gravitas of The Son, but I'm rooting for it for the NBA, though I think it's a long shot. I'm reading Enon now, and want to try to read The Lowlands before the November 20 NBA announcement.edit
ey814 - Oct 24, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus Most of the book is written in first person narrative from the perspective of a child who is a slave, and that characters observations are pretty humorous. So, a litle hard to tell what McBride's written voice sounds like from this book, I think... but, the story and observations about John Brown and his escapades are well done.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 24, 2013
@ey814 not sure yet--how do you like the writing in mcbrides book? edit
ey814 - Oct 22, 2013
Huffington Post predicts Tenth of December will win the National Book Award for fiction this year: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/16/national-book-awards-shortlists-2013_n_4102257.html If it does, it's a tough first edition to find, in my experience. I've read it and Kushner's Flamthrowers and am half way through James McBride's The Good Lord Bird. I'm reallly liking the latter... easily in my top 5 for books I've read published in 2012. Still, that seems like a long shot... seems to me that the money would be on Flamethrowers, Tenth of December, or The Lowland, and I'm not sure which one I think stands the better chance. Thoughts anyone? edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 21, 2013
I just finished "The Son"--I'm moving on to the others that I believe to be strong contenders this year, but that novel was so ambitious and so brilliant in its breadth (how a singular moment can impact so many generations or have hidden catalysts in far in the past), I will be surprised if it doesn't hold up well in the awards season.

Like jfieds2, I am much more inclined (particularly lately) toward smaller novels, novellas perhaps, that somehow encompass plots that transcend their size. "Tinkers", "Train Dreams", "Enon" (a bit, though less so than "Tinkers"), "Snow Hunters" each exhibit this, but it is rare. And, from "The Son" to "& Sons" to Eleanor Catton's "The Luminaries", this seems to be a good year to return to huge tomes.

On an entirely different note, has anyone yet read "The Affairs of Others" by Amy Grace Lloyd? It got a fairly positive mention in The New Yorker's "Briefly Noted" section--and as it is a New York novel, it immediately piqued my interest. =)edit
ey814 - Oct 20, 2013
@jfieds2 Good memory! Yes, I think it was The Tiger's Wife that precipitated the discussion about "true" firsts, specifically UK vs. US. And, I think you've got the details right... there was some reason to believe that it came out first in the UK to gain traction for the Orange Prize (which, if true, was a good move!). I think I did express the opinion that the UK version was the first, but I typically would make that judgement on several factors, not just publication date. I look for genuinely different printings... not just repackaging the US version for sale overseas. It illustrates the fact that the lines distinguishing "true firsts" are rather blurry. The "originally published in the..." statement on the copyright page doesn't really help distinguish which was first, since it refers only to when it was first published the country for which that statement applies. Often, a book will state something about be printed firs tin the US (or UK) and then a statement about publication in the other country, which of course is helpful. Again, I tend to go with the flag... that is, if a US author publishes a book that comes out within days in the US and the UK (or Canada, or Australia), I think the US is the true first. When, however, the author has dual US/British (or US/Canadian) citizenship, that becomes tricker. The Lowland came out at least a month in advance of the US version, and they are clearly different printings... different covers (the UK doesn't even have a DJ), layout different, etc. Since Lahiri has both US and British citizenship, and the US/UK versions are quite different, I'd go with the UK version as the true first. In all of these cases, though, I buy a first of each (US/UK), just to be sure :-)edit
jfieds2 - Oct 18, 2013
ey814 Mike, I just thought of something re a disagreement we had a few years ago re "true firsts" -- UK v US. I can't believe I didn't think of this before. The Tiger's Wife happened to hit store shelves in the UK before the US, even though it was scheduled to launch here first. There was some fluke. As I remember it had to do with the deadline of UK release for making the cut for the Orange Prize. Random House US gave the UK publisher some special waiver or something. But the UK publisher had nothing to do with the early stages of the book. It was first sold to a US based editor and edited here. The UK publication was a secondary sale. I thought that this was the important thing, and thus the US edition was the first. I doubt that this is something that happens very often, but I think you insisted that the on-sale date in the UK mattered. I am not sure if this is the case with the UK edition of The Tiger's Wife, but of course, almost all UK books that come out here indicate on the copyright page, "originally published in the UK by..." If The Tiger's Wife UK edition said "originally published in the US by..", would that change your opinion, despite the on sale date coming first? This is such a trivial question, but something that I have been curious about.edit
ey814 - Oct 16, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus Good points. I thought there should be, was just blanking :-) The Washington Post wasn't that impressed with Quiet Dell: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/quiet-dell-by-jayne-anne-phillips-is-too-tepid-to-be-another-in-cold-blood/2013/10/15/5b141a54-31bb-11e3-89ae-16e186e117d8_story.html edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 16, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus Executioner's Song, The Fixer, Blackwater (Oates), to name a few....not to mention war novels, big westerns (The Son, which hasn't won anything yet, is particularly gruesome, but Lonesome Dove has), etc. I don't think the subject matter will be off-putting--but I wonder how it will stand up to other novels in a particularly strong year. I personally thought "Lark and Termite" might win in 2010, though "Tinkers" was clearly a strong unforeseen candidate (and among my favorite books). That said, why "Love in Infant Monkeys" was a finalist and "L & T" wasn't, I can't understand....edit
ey814 - Oct 16, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus I'm wondering if the topic of this book won't put off some of the literary award reviewers/judges. I'm trying to think of other murder-themed books that have won large literary prizes, though I'm sure there must be...edit
ey814 - Oct 16, 2013
Okay, here are the NBA finalists... winner announced November 20:

Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers,

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland,

James McBride, The Good Lord Bird,

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge,

George Saunders, Tenth of December, Random House

Should Pynchon win, it would be his second National Book Award, he won for Gravity's Rainbow in 1973. Anyone read Bleeding Edge yet? edit
jfieds2 - Oct 15, 2013
BRAKiasaurus EdParks I just started & SONS today, and I am liking it so far. And I did enjoy THE FLAMETHROWERS, albeit in fits and starts (some sections dragged for me, others were brilliant). I might have been in a little bit of a poor mood when writing the post that Ed pointed to! Thanks for helping be modify my opinion or at least see that I was being unduly harsh.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 15, 2013
jfieds2 EdParks "The Son", "& Sons", "The Flamethrowers", "Enon", and "All That Is", "A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon" are all wonderful in their own way. I think this year has been amazingly strong--and I think it may be owed largely to something I heard Margaret Atwood say about her own novel: "You can't sell books during a presidential election." Apparently the publication of her book (and, if Amazon's publication dates were any indication, the same is true of "Enon") was delayed by a year due to the 2012 presidential election. It may account somewhat for what I perceive to be an overwhelmingly strong year. This is definitely a year for novels, though--I can't really think of a story collection (other than George Saunders' maybe) that could win....thoughts?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 15, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/10/15/234681427/quiet-dell-revives-a-depression-era-murder-story She's wonderful--and I know a lot of us thought "Lark and Termite" was a likely winner a couple years ago. edit

BRAKiasaurus - Oct 15, 2013
ey814 REALLY SAD! =(edit
jfieds2 - Oct 15, 2013
EdParks Thanks, Ed. It was me who said I had not been balled over by much this year, and that is among about 30 2013-published literary fictions books that I've read. It is true that among the ones you've named, I've only read TRANSATLANTIC (I thought that McCann's LET THE GREAT WORLD.. was far superior), but I will stand by my statement. I've liked a lot, but I haven't found a title that I want to be an evangelist for. Actually, I take that back, I thought A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA was brilliant; A MAKER TO MEASURE DRIFT was beautiful; and ENON was haunting. I also said that of those three, only ENON fits the "typical Pulitzer mold." It's totally possible that I just haven't read the right books. Thanks for your recommendations.edit
ey814 - Oct 13, 2013
Sad news concerning Oscar Hijuelos: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/books/oscar-hijuelos-cuban-american-writer-who-won-pulitzer-dies-at-62.html?_r=0 edit
EdParks - Oct 10, 2013
I have been collecting seriously for thirty-five years and I just read where someone stated "I have not been balled over by much this year". In my opinion this has been a phenomenal year for truly exceptional literature. Among the superior books published in 2013 are A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, All That Is by James Salter, and Transatlantic by Colum McCann. I would also include Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Realm of Last Chances by Steve Yarbrough, and possibly & Sons by David Gilbert. And I feel quite sure that I am forgetting some other worthy books that I should include. What I do know is that books like The Son and any of the National Book Award nominees (again in my opinion and I have read them all) do not approach the depth, intelligence, eloquence and craftsmanship contained within the eight books that I have listed above. edit
ey814 - Oct 8, 2013
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/10/why-dont-more-americans-win-the-nobel-prize.html?mobify=0 edit
ey814 - Oct 8, 2013
@brad86 Good suggestions. Vital Phenomena is on my read soon list. We Live in Water is my favorite short story collection for the year. I'm curious as well about Eggers' new book. It got a lukewarm review, I thought, in the Washington Post. I absolutely agree that Someone is one to keep a close eye on... McDermott has been a finalist three times (as we've noted on this board before)... maybe fourth time is the charm!edit
brad86 - Oct 8, 2013
Has anyone read Eggers' The Circle yet? The reviews seem good, and it is Eggers. Also, what about Tartt's new one? Both seem interesting. I've been putting off The Son until I have a vacation week, and I'll probably do the same for Tartt's.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is my book of the year so far. Closely behind it, I have Benediction, Americanah (which I'm surprised wasn't on the NBA longlist), A Tale for the Time Being, We Live in Water, & Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

At this point, I think Someone is one to watch for the Pulitzer. Of those on the horizon, I think Quiet Dell has a lot of potential. edit
ksryan - Oct 7, 2013
Thanks, ey814, collecting is complicated but so much fun. I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions in detail. I also use award lists and comments here to pique my interest in new writers and books.edit
ey814 - Oct 6, 2013
@ksryan One more mention on the topic of first editions of American authors' books that are published outside the US, there are a few examples of the "true" first being something other than a US, UK, or Canadian edition. One of John Irving's books ... A Widow for One Year... has a particularly complicated first edition pedigree. The true first was a British Signed Limited Edition. The first trade edition, though, is the Dutch edition. Here is what the description by bookseller Ken Lopez says about that: "The first Dutch edition and the first trade edition, preceded only by a limited advance issue of the British edition. Apparently, like the main character in the novel -- an American novelist with an affinity for Amsterdam, who arranges to have the first edition of her new book published in the Netherlands prior to its issuance in her home country -- Irving requested this publication sequence. The reason for an advance English edition preceding the Dutch edition reportedly had to do with the fact that the Dutch books were printed in England, and the advance English copies were released while the printed books were en route to the Netherlands." Which also points out that reading descriptions of books from reputable book dealers and book catalogs is a good way to learn... I often learn about something first by reading it in a catalog or book description, then I make a note of it to remind myself.edit
ey814 - Oct 6, 2013
@jfieds2 I just finished Transatlantic by Colum McCann (thought it was great) and am reading Daniel Woodrell's new book. I want to read both Enon and Someone (though to be honest, I wasn't that enamored with McDermott's "Charming Billy"). After Enon, I'll see how many of the NBA longlist books I can read... which includes Vital Phenomena, Someone, and The Lowland. edit
ey814 - Oct 6, 2013
@ksryan One of the nice things about the prize lists, like the NBA longlist, is that I learn about authors I haven't previously read and who, like McBride, are well worth knowing about. I'm particularly interested in McBride, once I read about him, because of the topic of Good Lord Book. It's next on my list to read. edit
ey814 - Oct 6, 2013
@ksryan Knowing what the "true" 1st edition of an American author's book (e.g., US, UK, Canada, etc.) is really just trial and error and even what is called the true first can depend on personal collecting preference. First, easily 95% and above of books published by US authors have the US version as the first edition (I'm ignoring special editions, signed limited editions, etc,.. those are another story). So, unless I suspect otherwise, I usually presume the US edition is first unless something tips me off that I should check it out. For example, if it says "First American Edition," one presumes that there was an earlier printing somewhere else (though that's not always true... Jesmyn Ward's NBA winning book Salvage the Bones says that, but it is the true first edition, there was no earlier printing outside of the US). Since my collection focuses around Pulitzer Prize winners, I tend to pre-order British editions just to have them. I will look at the Canadian edition, but its often the case that it's just the US edition being sold in Canada, though if there's a true Canadian first, I'll order it. The contentious books with regard to "true firsts" are those in which the UK or Canadian edition came out before the US edition by a few days. With modern printing techniques, I'm not so sure I really believe that a day or two earlier release date really constitutes a true first for a US author... I know others disagree (@dustyspines)! but in those cases, I tend to follow the flag.... and prefer the first US printing as what I consider the true first. I preordered Lahiri's The Lowland from amazon.uk just to have a copy of the British first, not anticipating it would be published so much sooner. In the case of this book, it was a full month or so earlier in publication and combined with the fact that its a Booker finalist and she has dual US/British citizenship, and because the book looks very different from the US edition, I'm accepting it as the true first. (One drawback of preordering from amazon.uk or amazon.ca is that although books are usually well packaged, that is not always true, so you take a chance of getting a book with a bumped corner or something, though not that often in my experience). I've never pre-ordered a book from amazon.uk or amazon.ca and not received a first edition. But, again, I didn't know the UK version of The Lowlands would come out so much sooner than the US version when I ordered it. I rely on this board in part to learn about such situations!edit
jfieds2 - Oct 4, 2013
I have not been balled over by much this year. Everyone is talking about THE SON, including my literary friends, yet one thing that I've finally concluded is that I just don't like epic, sweeping, multi-generational stories. I've been chipping away at THE SON for 3 months now and while it is no doubt a monumental achievement, it is just not my kind of book. One problem is I have to keep going back to the family tree. I would not be surprised if it won awards, but it would not be my personal pick. Give me a tighter narrative a la Harding and McDermott any day. In fact, SOMEONE and ENON are probably two of my top reads of the year. Another book in the category is A MARKER TO MEASURE DRIFT. For fans of gorgeous writing, go pick it up, but it's probably not in the Pulitzer hunt since it takes place totally outside the US with non-US characters. I don't think we will see a repeat of an ORPHAN MASTER SON type book this year. I firmly believe we will see a return to "American themes." Another one of my favorites was A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, which has the same non-American problem, but could hold up in the NBA.edit
jfieds2 - Oct 4, 2013
BRAKiasaurus ey814 I read an Abby Geni story a few years ago in a great lit mag, Glimmer Train. She is talented. I was a little surprised her book didn't get picked up by a bigger house, but nowadays, short story collections, if the author doesn't have a novel in progress as well, can be a hard sell.Still, I love small presses -- Greywolf, SoHo, Other, Coffee House, Bellvue Literary -- but sometimes they seem to get forgotten amongst the awards. The big exception was last year's PEN/Faulkner where 4/5 were small presses.edit
ksryan - Oct 2, 2013
I have been collecting books for a couple of years. I am competent at identifying first editions. What I don't know about is finding where true firsts will come out..England, U.S., or Canada....and how to best order British editions. I see that you, ey814,preorder from Amazon UK. I have prordered books from Amazon in the US. All preorders so far have been firsts, but even a few days out, have been seconds for critically acclaimed books.

On a different note, James McBride, who was long listed for the National Book Award, is fairly well known. His first book, The Color of Water was a memoir and best seller. His book The Miracle of Sainta Anna was made into a film by Spike Lee. His third book, Song Yet Sung, was the Maryland One Book. His current book, The Good Lord Bird, is slightly reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn. It is the tale of John Brown through the eyes of a young slave boy, poignant and humorous and slightly controversial. I read it and had mixed feelings. I was not surprised to see it on the long list, but I'll be very surprised if it makes the short list.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Oct 1, 2013
ey814 Dalebert Harding and Meyer definitely deserve to be on that list--but it's good to see Marra on there. I think Kushner, Marra, Meyer, and Harding are (so far) the most likely candidates for awards this season.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 30, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus Listed in Best American Short Stories 2010, I think...graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, etc...just thought she might be someone worth keeping an eye on. =)edit
ey814 - Sep 27, 2013
So if Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland wins the Booker and the NBA, it will be very collectible... and I think it's worth pointing out that the true first edition has got to be considered the British first edition. My copy of the British 1st arrived (via amazon.uk on a preorder) a full month (at least) before the US edition was released. I usually go with the flag if the releases on either side of the pond are within days of one another, but a full month is different. It might be less expensive to get the British 1st before the Booker winner is announced (and don't try ordering it from amazon.uk, I ordered a second copy after the first arrived, and it was the second printing!).edit
ey814 - Sep 27, 2013
@BRAKiasaurus Nope, not heard anything about it....edit
Ahogan - Sep 27, 2013
@ey814 While I love spending time in their store, BookPeople's packing leaves much to be desired. I've had more than one shipment result in damaged books. Lemuria Books (out of Jackson, MS) is a fantastic resource (and they have signed firsts of The Son in protective dust jacket covers still). I have no connection to them other than one fantastic afternoon I spent in their store. Thank goodness they're in Mississippi and I'm in Texas. I'd spend more money there than I could imagine if they were close by. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 25, 2013
I was wondering if anyone has read (and thus, has an opinion about) these stories: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/161902182X/ref=nosim/themillions-20edit

OneMoreBook - Sep 20, 2013
I just finished reading David Gilbert's "& Sons" and actually found myself struggling through it. I understand now that the title is "Ampersand Sons" although I didn't think of it that way until the end. Don't know why I couldn't get into the book. Perhaps it was because it's a book about NYC, and I kept thinking Salinger, and I felt the same way reading Claire Messud and Jennifer Egan. (I love Gilbert's short stories, however. And NYC, too!) Anywho, I'm sure it'll be a contender for some prizes this year; he's due.

Right now, I'm reading Kevin Powers' "The Yellow Birds," a National Book Award finalist from last year, and a Pulitzer "Top-Ten" from pprize.

(I keep recommending "The Son" from Philipp Meyer, and folks who've read it tell me they absolutely love it. As I did. Quite the novel, I feel, and miles ahead of his "American Rust.")

Thanks much for all the suggestions and reports on lists. My stack runneth over. :-)

Read on. edit
ey814 - Sep 19, 2013
Dalebert Yes, I was surprised that neither Meyer nor Harding were on the longlist, although winning the NBA is such a lousy predictor of winning the Pulitzer that perhaps, for Meyer's sake, that omission will play to his favor. Some mix of what I had expected (Kushner, Lahiri, McDermott, Saunders), what I didn't predict but am not surprised to see (Pynchon, Silber, Marra) and some I've never heard of (Drury, Graver, McBride). All in all, I'd say a decent mix of buzz books for the year (Kushner, Lahiri, Marra, Saunders), established authors (Lahiri, McDermott, Pynchon, Silber, Saunders) and not-so-high-profile authors (or, at least to me!).edit
Dalebert - Sep 19, 2013
NBA Longlist has been announced:

- Tom Drury, Pacific (Grove Press)

- Elizabeth Graver, The End of the Point (Harper/HarperCollinsPublishers)

- Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

- Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth/Random House)

- James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)

- Alice McDermott, Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

- George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)

- Joan Silber, Fools (W.W. Norton & Company)

I'm a little surprised Philipp Meyer and Paul Harding weren't on here. Looks like I've got a few more books to read in the coming months.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 18, 2013
ey814 I would suggest too that David Gilbert's "& Sons" could do well this season. It's big, ambitious, well-written, thoughtful, and set in New York (which is, to some, a theoretical plus).edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 18, 2013
dm23 I haven't yet read it--but it got a lot of buzz and some very positive reviews. Unfotunately, I think he tends to do much better with Pen Faulkner than with the Pulitzers...but this is likely his last novel, so I'm rooting for him! I haven't yet read it but have always been a fan of his work.

Another person whose work falls into this category is Norman Rush, whose new short novel is getting buzz but mixed reviews. Again, given his age and how long he takes to complete novels, this could well be his last.edit
dm23 - Sep 18, 2013
What about All That Is by James Salter? That one seems to have dropped off the radar. Was it published too ealry in the year or is it just not holding up?edit
ey814 - Sep 16, 2013
@Dalebert I missed your post about the Booker allowing US authors, and reposted above. Good eye! I do think Lahiri has dual US-British citizenship. edit
ey814 - Sep 16, 2013
@CoryDonnelly I'm liking Transatlantic a lot. After I finish it, Enon is next. Check Bookpeople in Austin TX, Philipp Meyer signed there and they usually have them in stock. Of course, you can also order signed copies from Book Passage...edit
ey814 - Sep 16, 2013
Booker to allow US authors to compete for prize? http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/will-americans-wreck-the-man-booker-party-8819273.html edit
Dalebert - Sep 16, 2013
BRAKiasaurus ey814 The booker is open to anyone who is a citizen from one of the Commonwealth nations, which includes India. Also Jhumpa was actually born in London, so she probably has dual citizenship.

Interestingly, I just found this article that the Booker may be allowing American authors starting next year...

BRAKiasaurus - Sep 16, 2013
ey814 I'm curious, actually: does anyone know why it is that Jhumpa Lahiri is eligible for the Booker?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 16, 2013
ey814 "Enon" is stunningly good. Challenging, heartbreaking, quiet, and beautiful. A book, like Tinkers, to which (despite its subject matter) I will return.edit
CoryDonnelly - Sep 16, 2013
@ey814 @CoryDonnelly I'm definitely going to pick up a copy in the next few days. I'm finishing Transatlantic right now, it's a great book (McCann's interview on the Colbert Report was fantastic by the way). I'm disappointed that I started the Book Passage signed first editions club a month after The Son was released, but it is an amazing novel. I'll be getting my signed first edition of Enon from Gibson's Bookstore this week as well, so I'm looking very forward to that too!edit
ey814 - Sep 14, 2013
BRAKiasaurus Good ot see Amanda Coplin on the list... I didn't read The Orchadist, but it was certainly well received and recently won an award from West Coast booksellers. Molly Antopol was a Stegner Fellow, so certainly someone to watch. The book for which she was noinated apparently won't be published until ealry 2014, so one to watch out for. NoViolet Bulawayo is also a Stegner Fellow. Her first novel, We Need New Names, is shortlisted for the Booker prize. She's apparently a citizen of Zimbabwe, so not a U.S. citizen (so we won't see the book show up for the NBA finalists). Kevin Powers' choice, Daisy Hildyard is a UK citizen, so again, won't see it on the NBA longlist. Merritt Tierce was nominated by Ben Fountain, and her first novel, Love me Back, wont' be published until 2014 either. I usually try to go out and get copies of first editions of the 5 under 35 authors, but not sure there are any available now other than Orchadist, which I already have!edit
ey814 - Sep 14, 2013
CoryDonnelly I just started it. In fact, I almost mentioned it in my post about NBA longlist books, but I think Woodrell is still considered a regional writer. I saw him last week on his tour for Maid's Version... really nice guy. I read Winter's Bone when it first came out, and I was hooked, going back and buying all of his older books (though still haven't found a first edition of Woe to Live By). He's one of my favorite authors. I've only read the first chapter of Maid's Tale, but think it will be great! Nice to hear from a fellow fan!edit
CoryDonnelly - Sep 14, 2013
Has anyone read The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell? I've been a big fan of his books for years.edit
ey814 - Sep 14, 2013
Marilynne Robinson is, apparently, working on a third book in the "Gilead" series.


The last person to win a second Pulitzer was John Updike, and both were for books in the Rabbit series. I see Robinson as a serious contender for a second Pulitzer and a third book in the Gilead setting as having a lot of potential to be a winner (if, of course, it is up to speed). We'll see. Speaking of second pulitzers, Jhumpa Larhiri's The Lowland is getting a lot of attention, including being shortlisted for the Booker.

The National Book Award longlist (new this year) comes out September 19 and the award season officially kicks off! There will obviously be some books on that list that are unexpected, here are some I think will be there:

The Son by Philipp Meyers

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Transatlantic by Colum McCann

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Enon by Paul Harding

Someone by Alice McDermott

I'm still trying to read most of the 2013 books, and have read all of the above except for The Lowland, Someone, and Enon, all of which got rave reviews, so not as comfortable identifying too many more. I've read Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and I'm just not sure it's going to get as much love during the award season as it did from critics when it came out.

What about other books that folks have read? I haven't read & Sons by David Gilbert, but it got good reviews...edit
BRAKiasaurus - Sep 13, 2013
ey814 - Aug 31, 2013
I'm 2/3 of my way through Colum McCann's Transatlantic, and I really, really like it. It has a lot of "American Life" sections about famous Americans (Frederick Douglass and George Mitchell, to name two) and some about immigrant life in America. So, would not be surprised to see it do well in the awards season. I still like Philipp Meyers' The Son a little better, but Transatlantic really surprised me with how much I've liked it.edit
ey814 - Aug 31, 2013
@pgummz @jfieds2 Thanks for the heads up about the new McMurtry. @pgummz, I share some of your sentiment about the quality of McMurtry's later novels, though not all. For example, I thought the Berrybender books were as good as anything he'd written in the past (well, except for Lonesome Dove) and I liked the prequel/sequels to Lonesome Dove published after the original. With the latter books, some of that could just be that there were characters I was glad to revisit. And in that same vane, I liked all of the sequels to The Last Picture Show, in part, I'm sure, because I was always glad to return to read about Duane. But, McMurtry's had some stinkers in the past few years... I thought Loop Group was among the worst novels I've ever read, and I haven't liked any of the books he's written with Diane Ossana. His treatments of real life gunfighters/gangsters has been a mixed back, though I've liked some. McMurtry had sworn off reading and writing fiction about a year ago, so it's a bit of a surprise to see him out with another novel. I'll remain hopeful!edit
ey814 - Aug 31, 2013
BRAKiasaurus Yoon's first book, Once the Shore, made him a "NBA 5 under 35" selection a couple of years ago (five past NBA finalists/winners each select one person under 35 years of age that they think deserves attention), so I agree, this is one ot look out for. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 29, 2013
I picked up Paul Yoon's "Snow Hunters" yesterday. Pretty solid review--I could see it potentially doing well in the award season: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/books/review/snow-hunters-by-paul-yoon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0edit
JohnZ - Aug 21, 2013
pgummz Honey in the Horn, by H. L. Davis.edit
Anaconda215 - Aug 21, 2013
@pgummz I have a suggestion for you: Remember Ben Clayton by Stephen Harrigan.edit
pgummz - Aug 20, 2013
jfieds2 At one time McMurtry was one of my favorite novelists. Some of his books that I really enjoyed were Horseman Pass By, Leaving Cheyenne, The Last Picture Show, and Lonesome Dove. The problem though that I have with him is I really think that most of the novels that he has written in the last twenty or so years falls far short of many of his early novels. This novel that you mentioned does sound interesting to the point that I may venture back out again and read this book. Just my thoughts.edit
jfieds2 - Aug 20, 2013
I have been unusually quiet in the past few months, in part because my reading has taken a nosedive, and in part because what I have read, although excellent, I didn't think was worth sharing, Pulitzer-wise. I don't think we'll see another non-American book win, so one of my top reads of the year, A MARKER TO MEASURE DRIFT by Alexander Maksik, is out. I also wanted to share something to put in the radar for *next* year. I am not a McMurty fan, but I am sure many of you are. This news came from my Publishers Marketplace Deals subscription. "Pulitzer prize winning novelist and Oscar winning screenwriter Larry McMurty's THE LAST KIND WORDS SALOON, a fictional retelling of Wyatt Earp and dentist-turned-gunfighter Doc Holliday's remarkable friendship to be published in June 2014 (by Liveright/W.W. Norton) along with a signed and limited edition.edit
pgummz - Aug 20, 2013
Hello to all. I mentioned awhile back that I finished reading Philipp Myers The Son which I thought was excellent, easily the best book written in quite awhile in my opinion. My question is, I really like saga type books that deal with native americans. Does anyone have any suggestions on novels that center on this that I could read. I've read Lonesome Dove a few years ago and loved it as many of you have. Thanks in advance for any suggestions that you may have.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 20, 2013
ey814 I typed a reply but did so on my phone, and I am not sure it ever actually made it's way onto the page. In any case, I haven't yet started the book. It's staring at me--but I'm currently finishing up Don Lee's book "The Collective" and "Archangel" by Andrea Barrett. The latter is the only one of the two that is eligible this year, and though it is beautiful, I doubt it will be a contender (given the strong field of novels that seems to be emerging).

After I wrap those, I am going to have to decide between "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." which is getting great reviews but promises to be a bit lighter than the other option: "& Sons". I may go on a little New York literary scene spree and read those two...might have to add a third: The Morels. Heheedit
ey814 - Aug 18, 2013
I can't recall what I've posted and what I haven't so pardon the redundancy if it happens! As I mentioned to BRAKiasaurus in one of his posts, I finally read Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, and though I still bemoan the lack of American Life content, it was easily one of the best two books I read from those books eligible for the 2013 Pulitzer, the other one being Erdrich's Round House. They're such different novels, I don't even want to get into a this is better or that is better train of thought. Both were, in my estimation, brilliant. I thought that the second half of Orphan Master's Son wasn't quite as good as the first half... the multiple narrators worked most of the time, but not all of the time... the voice over the intercom came out as being less effective at times, IMHO. I also thought that despite his attempts not to do so (based upon interviews with Adam Johnson), Kim Jong Il often just came off as a bafoon. But, those are minor beefs... I thought the book was brilliant and deserving of its recognition.

For this year's awards, I finished The Son by Philipp Meyers, and it's at the top of my list of potential awardees for this year. I thought it was excellent... Larrry MacMurtry meets Cormac McCarthy meets James Michener! I also finished Jess Walter's book of short stories, We LIve in Water, and thought i fared favorably with the George Saunders and Karen Russell collections for this year... what he lacks in writing authority he makes up for in the believabilty of his characters. I'm reading Ben Lytal's A Map of Tulsa (debut novel, I grew up in Tulsa, so was interested in it), and while it's well written, I'm not that smitten with it. Next up, Colum McCann's Transatlantic!edit
ey814 - Aug 18, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I presume everyone's busy reading! Haven't heard anything about Breuster, but Kent Haruf seems like someone who could be in position with this book. I haven't read it yet, but plan to.... it got a good review in the Washington Post....edit
ey814 - Aug 18, 2013
BRAKiasaurus Lucky you. I finished Orphan Masters Son and thought it was briliiant. Looking forward to hearing Adam Johnson speak.edit
ey814 - Aug 18, 2013
BRAKiasaurus & Sons was a pick of the Book Passage Signed FIrst Edition book club, so my copy arrived a few days ago, and it's on my list to read... I think it's generally getting good reviews.. did you read it yet?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 18, 2013
Where'd everyone go, haha? I had a friend recommend "Breuster" to me and was wondering if anyone had considered it yet-- haven't read it.", myself. What about kent haruf's "benediction"?edit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 11, 2013
Went to a discussion between Adam Johnson and David Gilbert--both were brilliant and signed their books! It was great--can't wait to read Gilbert's book! Very curious if anyone else has read it yet! =Dedit
BRAKiasaurus - Aug 6, 2013
BRAKiasaurus Just got my copy of "& Sons". Between "& Sons", The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., and "The Morels", there are a lot of recent novels about literary New York this year. As good a time as any to test the ol' "New York Novel" theory of the pulitzer, I guess, haha!edit
goodbooksradio - Aug 4, 2013
My vote goes to Philipp Meyer's, THE SON. It is the best Texas novel since LONESOME DOVE and the most powerful American story this year. edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jul 29, 2013
Has anyone read "& Sons" yet? Getting some mixed reviews, but an ambitious literary New York novel.....thoughts?edit
jfieds2 - Jul 29, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I am reading this, while reading many other things, including some non-fiction. It's very good. I wasn't aware of his style. Some of the "stories" are single paragraphs, or only a few pages. I am not sure if it has the depth for a Pulitzer win, but he is a gifted writer.edit
ey814 - Jul 23, 2013
@jfieds2 Wow, lots of debut novels I've heard nothing about! I take it U.S. Citizenship is not a requirement for this prize. THe Marra, Selasi, and Jansma books got some buzz, but most of the others I've not heard anythign about. We'll have to see what some of these do in the award season. edit
ey814 - Jul 23, 2013
Because a few among us collect Booker prize novels as well as Pulitzer novels (@dustyspines), and because it's usually interesting, I thought I'd point out that the 2013 longlist for the Mann Booker prize, the British equivalent, essentially, to our Pulitzer, has been announced:


Of particular interest is that this list includes two books that would be eligible for the Pulitzer as well. First, Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel, The Lowland, made the list. She has U.S. Citizenship, we know, because she's already won the Pulitzer, but it must be dual citizenship (she was born in England), since she is eligible for the Mann Booker. The second book is Colum McCann's "TransAtlantic." We know he's eligible for the Pulitzer because he won the National Book Award, which like the Pulitzer, is limited to U.S. Citizens, but his citizenship must be dual as well, since he was born in Ireland.

To my knowledge, the only book to win the Pulitzer that had been on a Booker list was The Stone Diaries by Carol Shield. Shield had dual U.S./Canadian citizenship, and Stone Diaries was short listed for the Booker the year it won the Pulitzer. edit
jfieds2 - Jul 16, 2013
We spoke of this prize last year, even though it was only in it's 3rd year, in it's current form: the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, given by the Center for Fiction in NYC. Even though we can't use it in the algorithm, I think it's still one to keep tabs on. There are a lot of regional/small prizes out there -- one is given by a writing center near where I grew up in the DC suburbs -- but I feel that this one has more gravitas. We'll have to see it's track record going forward. BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALF TIME WALK won last year.

They announced a long list today and will announce a short list in August. It is worth pointing out that unlike the PEN/Hemingway, this is a first *novel* prize, hence Ben Fountain, who won the PEN prize for his collection, was still eligible for this one, as is Stuart Nadler this year.

I've read the Marra, McIlvain, Nadler & and am finishing the Nutting. So far, I've only loved the Marra, but as I mentioned earlier, it is like Orphan Master -- it takes place completely abroad. It could easily win here, but as for another non-American book taking the Pulitzer, I wouldn't bet on it.

- We've talked about the Selasi, but she may not be Pulitzer eligible, and the book also take place, mostly, abroad.

- We've talked about the Cheng, and I want to read it, but keep buying other things. Has anyone read it? I forget.

- I've heard good buzz about the Bell, but I think it's a bit fable-like.

- I tried reading the Jansma in a book store, but couldn't get into it. It got good reviews, but I have a pet peeve with writers as narrators of novels.

- I heard Neyeri read at a reading, but I think it is also set mostly abroad, in Iran.

- I've heard mixed things about the Holt, but it looks good to me.

I don't think I have heard about the other 10. Just guessing, short list: Marra, Selasi, Nutting, Cheng, Bell (of course, one of the other 10 probably makes it...)

Flaherty-Dunnan Prize 2013 Long List

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons by Kevin Allardice (Counterpoint)

The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom (Grove Press)

The Carriage House by Louisa Hall (Scribner)

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth)

Elders by Ryan McIlvain (Hogarth)

Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter (Alfred A. Knopf)

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi (Penguin Press)

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell (Soho Press)

The Morels by Christopher Hacker (Soho Press)

Motherlunge by Kirstin Scott (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones (Touchstone)

The Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson (Bloomsbury)

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski (Harper Paperbacks)

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng (Ecco)

Tampa by Alissa Nutting (Ecco)

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri (Riverhead Books)

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Viking)

Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (Atlantic Monthly Press) Wise Men by Stuart Nadler (Reagan Arthur Books/ Little, Brown and Co.) Y by Marjorie Celona (Free Press/Simon & Schuster) The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead Books)

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt (Penguin)edit

Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel PrizeFlaherty-Dunnan First Novel PrizeFlaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
pgummz - Jul 11, 2013
OneMoreBook I had the same feeling when I finished reading "The Son". In my opinion, it truly was an exceptional book and is on a short list of the many books that I've read that I'll consider rereading. I can see the comparisons to McCarthy( I've read all of his books and loved them all) and I think that it stands right up there with Blood Meridian. Currently, I'm reading The Dome by Stephen King and Winter kill by Craig Lesley and I have a somewhat hollow feeling as these books although good aren't anywhere near as well written or as enjoyable to me as The Son was.edit
ey814 - Jul 11, 2013
OneMoreBook I've wondered how much the fact that Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite books, ever (okay,well, maybe my favorite book ever, though I really, really like John Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany) is influencing the fact that I am loving The Son. I'm curious what people who didn't like Lonesome Dove will think of The Son. Not that I know of anyone, personally, who doesn't like Lonesome Dove!

Interesting observation about the use of commas. I'm reading it on Kindle, and just hadn't noticed it.

You'll like American Rust, guaranteed.edit
OneMoreBook - Jul 11, 2013
My favorite novel of all time is "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry.

Second-favorite? "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy. Until maybe now.

I just finished Philipp Meyer's "The Son," and I feel in my heart and gut that it's beating out McCarthy's novel by more than a slim margin.

Although I feel "The Son" didn't really show the deep character development of "Lonesome," the McCullough family overall will stay with me for a long time. What a multi-generational-spanning saga. (And I'm really not a saga buff, although I loved "The Thornbirds" and "Penmarric" many moons ago.)

You'll need two bookmarks for "The Son." One to keep your place, and another at the front of the book so you can refer back to the extensive family tree to help you keep all the players in place. You might also want to re-read the first two chapters when you're done with this marvelous novel, as they make much more sense then, and help you understand much of the 500+ pages that follow those chapters.

Meyer is an interesting author. Young guy, too. It took me a while to get used to his use of commas in his sentences, thinking at first they were typos (only found three in the first edition book, by the way). And the unusual use of the commas increased as the book pressed on. But then I remembered that one of Cormac McCarthy's hallmarks is the non-use of commas - in "The Road" particularly - and then Meyer's sentences reminded me of Truman Capote's "Breakfast At Tiffany's" when way back when I first noticed Capote's unique use of commas in his writing (which underscores for many people that Capote actually ghost-wrote "To Kill A Mockingbird." But that's a whole 'nother story indeed.)

All in all, I feel you find that "The Son" is divine. It blew me away. I'm still thinking about it, five or more days later. I want to be a Comanche or an oil driller now. In fact, I've put all of my other reading this year on hold until I get my copy of Meyer' "American Rust," which is on its way to me now from our public library.

Read on. edit
ey814 - Jul 11, 2013
jfieds2 I think the Chang-rae Lee novel was a 2014 publication, so didn't bring it up... as is the Doctorow. Julia Glass also has a new novel coming out in early 2014. You're right about the Banks book being short stories, I forgot that. The Millions list is always very helpful, as is the PrePub newsletter from the American Library Association. Among the New Yorker 20 under 20 group, in addition to Russell, Daniel Alarcon has a new novel this fall, At Night we Walk in Circles that will be worth looking toward.

Based upon the reviews I've seen, including your observation, I've taken the Jonathan Dee novel off my "to read" list for this year... I read too slowly and there seems to be a broad agreement that this wasn't a very good book. I'm on the last story of the Russel Vampires in the Lemon Grove collection. Perhaps I shouldnt' have read it immediately following George Saunders' Tenth of December, but I'm ready for something that is not fantatistical. I really think she needs to do something that does not have a fantasy element or is a ghost story. Honestly, if I want to read fantasy or ghost stories, I'll read Ray Bradbury's or Isaac Asimov's short stories or Stephen King's Novellas. Russell is a great writer, and I've enjoyed Lemons, but I often feel like the fantasy/ghost elements are easy plot elements, and I'm certainly not interested in them as means to explain human behavior.

I'll admit to not having read anything by Norman Rush, but Subtle Bodies is shorter than his other two novels, so maybe I'll jump in and give it a try. I'm 25% through The Son by Philipp Meyers (and think it is brilliant), several stories into Jess Walter's short story collection "We Live in Water" (Like it a lot), and getting ready to start listenting to (finally) Orphan Masters Son.

I'm looking forward to the Woodrell novel. He's one of my all time favorites... Winter's Bone was brilliant, and I've liked all of his Ozark Noir books.edit
jfieds2 - Jul 11, 2013
ey814 BRAKiasaurus Great post, Mike. I don't have much to add, but I thought I would weigh in with my personal opinions.

I got a galley of Rush at BEA. The early things I've heard about it haven't really interested me much but it made The Millions second half preview with some positive things said. (http://www.themillions.com/2013/07/most-anticipated-the-great-second-half-2013-book-preview.html) It is also more American focused than his previous books, so it might have a chance. The article above has some great other books to look for by authors always in the award hunt including, story collections from Aimee Bender, Andre Dubus III; and novels by Jonathan Lethem, Daniel Woodrell, and E.L. Doctorow.

I didn't like A THOUSAND PARDONS at all. it was a mismatch of different styles, in my opinion was unrealistic for a story that intended to be so, and also felt overly rushed. I do not think we will even see it on any best of year lists, let alone as an award season contender.

Karen Russell's collection, on the other hand, will deservedly be on best of year lists -- it made this best of the first half list: http://flavorwire.com/401192/2013s-10-best-works-of-fiction-so-far -- but I think it is too fantastical to be a winner. Then again, I was surprised the jury passed on SWAMPLANDIA! for exactly that reason.

FYI, Russell Bank's book is a collection of short stories.

One Pulitzer finalist with an upcoming book you missed is Chang Rae Lee. it is going to be a dystopic future story -- not a genre I care for at all -- but he is such a good writer, he could pull it off. Given that THE ROAD one, I see such a story a much more likely winner than the genre bending fantasy of Russell.

I got an electronic galley of the McDermott just to check it out. I Need to start it soon or it will self destruct (literally). Will report back.

Of past Pulitzer winners, Jhumpa Lahiri had a new novel coming. See the Millions link above.edit
ey814 - Jul 11, 2013
BRAKiasaurus There are several past Pulitzer finalists whose books we should watch this year... Barrett is certainly one of them. She won the NBA for Ship Fever, and was a Pulitzer finalist for Servants of the Map. I think we've already talked about Alice McDermott, whose new book, Someone, comes out in September. She also won the NBA for Charming Billy and has been a Pulitzer finalist three times. Norman Rush, who won the NBA for Mating and was a Pulitzer finalist for his first book, Whites, has a new novel out in September titled Subtle Bodies. Jonathan Dee, who was a Pulitzer finalist a couple of years ago for The Privileges, has already published A Thousand Pardons this year (though I dont' think the reviews were all that great). Of course, Karen Russell was a Pulitzer finalist for Swamplandia and has a short story collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, eligible this year. Susan Choi was a Pulitzer finalist for American Woman and has a new novel out now titled My Education (getting buzz because of the amount of sexual content in the novel, apparantly). Russell Banks, who was a Pultizer finalist for Cloudsplitter, has a new book out in November titled A Permanent Member of the Family. Finally, from the list of past-pulitzer finalitsts with books out, Robert Stone, who won the NBA for Dog Soldiers and was a pulitzer finalist for his short story collection, Bear and HIs Daughter and for his novel A Flag for Sunrise, has a new novel out in November titled Death of a Black-Haired Girl.

And, although she's not a past Pulitzer finalist, the highly regarded Jayne Anne Phillips has a book out in October titled Quiet Dell. If it's good, I think she is someone who is poised to win.

Two oldies-but-goodies have books coming out. Thomas Pynchon has a new novel, Bleeding Edge, out in September. Who knows about his chances. And, I'm sure many of you saw that a previously unpublished novel by Pearl Buck was discovered and will published... not sure if it's this year or next. But, it would certainly be eligible... could Buck win her second Pulitzer decades after her death? John Kennedy Toole won his about one decade after his death, but all other postumous awards have been shortly after the author's death (James Agee, William Faulkner).edit
ey814 - Jul 11, 2013
BRAKiasaurus - Jul 10, 2013
Peter Orner, who has garnered much praise for his short story collection "Esther Stories", has a new collection coming out: Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge. Having read his previous collection, I can absolutely say that this is definitely one to watch. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316224642/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0FADTQZV9618ESYFPCBB&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846edit

BRAKiasaurus - Jul 2, 2013
So...I won a copy of this from goodreads: http://www.amazon.com/Archangel-Fiction-Andrea-Barrett/dp/0393240002/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372806742&sr=1-1&keywords=andrea+barrett

Wasn't even on my radar (the fact that she had a new book out, that is): but she has been a finalist for the NBA and the Pulitzer, both times for short story collections. This, her third, I believe, could do very well this year too! A sleeper candidate!edit

pgummz - Jul 2, 2013
ey814 pgummz I think that you'll really enjoy this book as you continue to read it. I agree with the Steinbeck comparison regarding American Rust. Meyer certainly is an author to keep an eye on. I know that it may be apples and oranges, but I read The Orphan Master's Son before and I will have to say that I enjoyed The Son considerably more. For me, The Son will be set aside as on of the few books that I've read that I'm going to set aside for a future second reading.edit
ey814 - Jul 2, 2013
@pgummz I'm 10% into the book (reading on Kindle) and already agree that it's brilliant. McCarthy and McMurtry are easy to see even at this point. I thought his first book, American Rust, was very Steinbeck-like. Looking forward to savoring the rest of this book...edit
pgummz - Jun 30, 2013
I just finished reading Philipp Meyer's The Son and the reviews that I have come across are spot on, this is a brilliant novel. I don't want to give too much away for those of you who are planning on reading it, but it focuses on the dying American frontier through the eyes of three central characters. Some reviewers that I have come across have compared Meyer's writing to literary giants Steinbeck, McMurtry, and McCarthy and I can see some of justification for these comparisons as I have read both of these novels. Like I said, I don't want to reveal too much, but I enjoyed reading The Son so much that I had too take a couple of days off before beginning a new novel, and I find myself now that I have begun reading another book having difficulty getting into it as my thoughts are still being consumed by Myers' book. Just my thoughts.edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jun 29, 2013

This promises to be at least a very well-written (if not amazing!) novel--can't wait!edit

ey814 - Jun 27, 2013
Finished The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. I thought it was well written and smart. Personally, I thought it dragged in the middle in scenes dealing with the 70s art scene, though I've read reviews that highlighted those sections as particularly well done, so to each his (or her) own. I really liked the first and last third of the book. The book, or how one reviews it, has become this year's bellweather for gender issues in the way in which critics review books. I'm not sure I think its any better written or more "assertive" than, say, Nichole Krauss's The Great House. But, I'm not a critic, just a reader and I expect to see The Flamethrowers nominated for some awards come the awards season... it certainly deserves it. I'm also just about done with George Saunders' The Tenth of December. I really liked the first few stories... but in part because I'm not that much of a short story collection guy, I'm not sure it's of equal quality across the stories. Certainly, though, well written and enjoyable... I'd read another of his books (and wish he would write a novel!). I'm also reading Jess Walter's short story collection "We Live in Water" and really liking the stories, though only two stories in. His stories are longer and sort of mini versions of his novels, same kinds of characters. Finally, I started Philipp Meyer's The Son. Only a few chapters in, but... wow. I'm hooked.edit
jfieds2 - Jun 15, 2013
ey814 OneMoreBook I got sidetracked by other books when reading THE FLAMETHROWERS, so I'll have to begin again soon. (I was enjoying it though, so I can't fully explain my abandoning it...) I think it's next up once I finish TRANSATLANTIC and THE SON.edit
ey814 - Jun 14, 2013
jfieds2 Tinkers would have been tough to read on the way to a funeral. Enon sounds like a winning sophomore novel, which doesn't happen that often, in my opinion. The Son sounds like another excellent sophomore outing. I wonder how many second novels have won the Pulitzer... Gilead comes to mind... I'm sure there are others. Yes, three double winners... Tarkington, Faulkner, and Updike. Tarkington's two came close together, but not sure they were for back-to-back books... I doubt it. But, as for Enon's chances... the award is for a book from that year, and while it is a long shot, it's not impossible!edit
jfieds2 - Jun 13, 2013
mrbenchly ENON is gut-wrenching. I was mostly reading it on my commute and teared up on the subway a few times. Harding writes with a beauty and clarity (even when his narrative veers into the mythic/supernatural/other-wordly -- which is does a fair bit) that I've seen in few other writers.

In the third sentence of the novel, you learn that it will be a story of grief. Interestingly, I didn't read TINKERS until last year when I was dealing with grief in my own life. I think I read it, in one day, on my way to a funeral. I was obviously preoccupied because I remember little, and after reading ENON I noticed that I certainly misremembered some things from TINKERS. I must reread it. Still, from what I remember the two books are similar in tone and structure. ENON also mostly concentrates on a single man, the grandson of George Washington Crosby, and for most of the story he is alone. He might speak to only five or six other people during the real-time of the story; all other interactions are reflections. It is pretty remarkable how compelling a narrative Harding creates from such an insular story.

I am not certain how I would handicap ENON's chances at a back-to-back win for Harding. We've mentioned before how few (is it 3, Mike?) two-time winners there have been, and how perhaps, "spreading the wealth" plays a small factor in the decision. I think it would surprising for ENON to win, but regardless it is a must-read for all lovers of literary fiction.edit
jfieds2 - Jun 10, 2013
BRAKiasaurus I know you saw my comments above on this book, but in case others didn't, I will say it is wonderful. Beautiful; challenging; heartbreaking; thought-provoking. It hits many notes.edit
jfieds2 - Jun 10, 2013
mrbenchly I was able to score one from a publishing-world friend. It's not in collectible condition, but that's not a big concern for me. I just started it. I hate making any judgements only 50 pp in, but it is very, very good.edit
ey814 - Jun 7, 2013
OneMoreBook Glad to have you posting! I'll be interested in your thoughts about The Son. I've mentioned before that I thought Philipp Meyers first book, American Rust, was brilliant... and I have high hopes for The Son. I'm about 1/2 way through Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers (I like it a lot), and also started Jess Walter's short story collection, and am listening (books on CD) to George Saunders' Tenth of December (liking it a lot), so will pick up The Son after I get done with one of the above!edit
BRAKiasaurus - Jun 3, 2013
BRAKiasaurus ey814 Found an ARC of Southern Cross the Dog--love to hear what someone thinks about it but will let you know when I get a chance to read it. =Dedit
OneMoreBook - Jun 2, 2013
Just started THE SON today (after finishing SWAMPLANDIA by Karen Russell, a contender for 2012 - loved it - and was floored by how wonderful I found Eowyn Ivey's THE SNOW CHILD, which I also just finished).

I also just posted my first post ever here on pprize two days ago in the 2013 comments section, after lurking for several years now. Thanks to you all for the great recommendations and thoughts on books you've read and recommend. Love it!edit