Recent Pulitzers 2014

Who will be the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction?

April 13, 2015

The Pulitzer board will announce the winner for its prize for fiction one week from today on April 20, 2015. Because the finalists are not released ahead of time, the winner is a surprise every year. But for eight years we have been posting a prediction list prepared by a fellow Pulitzer collector, and research scientist. The list is the product of a regression analysis that weighs a given book's performance in other book awards as well as the author's past award and nomination history.

All predictors are now in, and they have not changed the previous list posted on March 12th; and so it stands as the Final 2015 PPrize Prediction List.

Please keep in mind that this is in no way intended to suggest that one of the listed books will absolutely win the Pulitzer. There is still much that cannot be predicted about winning the Pulitzer Prize and lots of other factors that cannot be quantified as variables that certainly contribute to the award process. Readers should only consider this list for what it is intended to be, a fun exercise in second guessing (or pre-guessing) the Pulitzer Prize judges! We can however count on insightful community discussions. The books that are surfaced, and the comments about them are always engaging and interesting.

The 2015 PPrize Prediction List for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

1.Lila by Marilynne Robinson
2.Euphoria by Lily King
3.On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
4.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
5.An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
6.Redeployment by Phil Klay
7.Dept. of Specultation by Jenny Offill
8.Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
9.Family Life by Sharma Akhil
10.Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow
11.Orfeo by Richard Powers
12.Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash
13.The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
14.The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
15.The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Comment on our lists, or offer your own opinion about who you think will win the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:

BRAKiasaurus May 6, 2015
I concluded Preparation for the Next Life and though I haven't yet read Tony Doerr's novel--which I think we can honestly call the judges' fourth choice--I can say that I would have given the award to Atticus Lish.

I can also say that I'm half way through The Enchanted, and I honestly do not like it. Don't like the writing much, don't care about the story, and don't like that the author seems at times incredibly vague about the location and at other times oddly specific. Oddly, in places it reminds me of a much more amateur version of Fourth of July Creek, which I loved. For anyone who felt it to be worthy of a Pulitzer, I'd suggest you read Smith Henderson's novel.
JohnZ Apr 25, 2015
The deeper I get into All the Light We Cannot See, the more I like it. Doerr certainly enjoys turning a lyrical phrase. Some of these work; some do not. The structure -- the old back-and-forth -- is something to which I've become better acclimated. Marie-Laure and Werner; Werner and Marie-Laure. Et cetera. It's kind of like observing a game of literary tennis. But after sustaining it for just over a hundred pages, Doerr breaks the structure, writing two chapters about Marie-Laure after she and her father arrive in Saint-Malo. The chapters are Brittany and Madame Manec. That threw me a little. I wonder if it was an artistic choice on Doerr's part, or if he couldn't find a way to keep the structure going and had to allow it to morph into a new pattern.

But the story is good thus far, even if some of its machinations have turned out to be obvious. I am finding elements of it that echo other Pulitzer-winning books. Characters' live torn asunder by violence and bombing -- All the Light We Cannot see and The Golfinch. Characters' lives being affected by possible curses -- All the Light We Cannot see and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. In Doerr's book, it appears the Sea of Flames is playing the part that Fuku did in Diaz's book. Characters obsessed with technology (in this case, radios) -- All the Light We Cannot See and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Characters' lives presented under a tyrannical leader -- All the Light We Cannot See and The Orphan Master's Son. And of course there's the presence of red and blue. I've found it, I think, in every Pulitzer-winning book for Fiction. I almost wonder if it's a code utilized by writers who are hoping that they will be considered for the prize. I know it might seem silly and dismissive, but it doesn't change the fact that it exists.

The short chapters don't bother me. With so much lyrical prose, I think Doerr, in his construction, applied a kind of buffer to lessen the possibility of floral overload. As a writer, I enjoy a number of Doerr's word choices. He's proving to be adept at verb selection. I have yet to come upon any that have struck me as outlandish or florid. And he does love minute details -- another harbinger of many books that win the Pulitzer. That said, Doerr is doing a good job of keeping said details from drowning in dense paragraphs. He writes of them with clarity.

As for some of the obviousness, perhaps it's just the writer in me overlapping with the reader in me. When I read something, I can't help but start to break things down. I try not to do it, but it's become a hard-wired response in me, as natural as breathing. Take Werner, for instance. Doerr seems preoccupied with injecting as much empathy into the character -- a child of Hitler Youth -- as he can. Now, perhaps that's just how Werner came to him; but then again, maybe Doerr is going to so much trouble to hedge his bets. And who knows? It might be a trick. Perhaps Werner will change.

But with all of the echoes of other Pulitzer books, it's becoming clearer to me why the Board chose the All the Light We Cannot See for the prize. It's looking more and more to have been the safer choice among some of the other books that were finalists, or that were not finalists but should have been.

I'll keep everyone posted.
tklein27 Apr 23, 2015
Can anyone with a first edition of ATLWCS tell me what color the binding is? Looks to me like navy blue boards with black lettering on a light green spine.

Also, what is the last numbered page? Is it 531?
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@tklein27 Yes, navy blue boards, light green spine, black lettering on spine. Last numbered page is 531, Acknowledgements.
tklein27 Apr 23, 2015
It was my pleasure. I'm amazed by the smart and thoughtful people who contribute to this forum. It has provided a whole new dimension to collecting Pulitzers. Thank you all. I just created the 2016 Prediction page, and it is open for discussion.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 23, 2015
@tklein27 I'm on it! :D
Marybethking Apr 22, 2015
Thank you everyone for another great year, especially Tom. Can someone post the article in this forum for everyone to read? I can't access it either.
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
I presume we'll be heading over to a 2016 Prediction discussion page sometime in the not too distant future, so it's worth taking the time to thank Tom for providing this forum for discussion and information and to thank everyone who has participated. Although we sometimes disagree about books and about the relative merits of one or another book receiving one or another award, I don't know of any other forum that I could get the information and hear from informed readers (and some editors/book industry types!) about what they like, what they read, and how they feel about books I'm interested in reading and collecting. I would be a Pulitzer collector even without this forum, but for me, the discussion, opinions, and thoughts add another dimension to my book reading and collecting enjoyment. So, I'm hoping everyone who participated this year will follow the discussion in the 2016 thread and that this year's reading crop will provide lots of fodder for conversation and speculation!

And, of course, if you don't join the 2016 Prediction discussion, you won't be able to state your opinion about whether Harper Lee will win her second Pulitzer :-). She is the only author to win the Pulitzer for her only book, a fact that will no longer be true as soon as she publishes Watchman, but could become the first person to win the Pulitzer for her only 2 books (and, again, might be the first woman to win the Pulitzer twice).

I'm already looking forward to April 18, 2016!
TELyles Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 On to 2016. There was some initial early anticipation and discussion on the site, but has anyone else read Black River? I have and I was unfortunately unimpressed with the novel on the whole. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it garnered so many starred reviews. My main gripes are what is essentially a thin plot, lack of emotional investment in the protagonists, and the continued repetition of "the hands...I was a fiddler." I don't mind being alone in this opinion, but would love to hear what others thought of the book.

A Little Life came in the other day. Will start that eventually, after finishing Preparation...
Marybethking Apr 22, 2015
I just finished all. Not a big fan despite rave reviews. I can copy and paste my goodreads review on here for you?
DustySpines Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 I second your sentiments. Thanks Tom and thanks contributors for making this such a useful discussion.
AlexKerner Apr 22, 2015
so apparently the Jury had only nominated three books initially (the three finalists) and the board was not pleased so asked for a fourth.
AlexKerner Apr 22, 2015
i think the article is subscription certainly says a lot about juries trying to be too clever and choosing three books no one but themselves were the three best novels of the year eligible for the Pulitzer
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@AlexKerner Very interesting. First I've heard of the Pulitzer Board requesting another nomination, rather than just not making the award or picking one themselves. Makes for some interesting speculation. Let's presume All the Light was the fourth book. Did the Board overlook the chance to give Oates what is probably a well-deserved Pulitzer (not necessarily for this book or not, but for the prior books that came so close... I know, I know, the award is supposed to be for a book and not a lifetime achievement, but I again point to the fact that the Board gave Willa Cather the award in essence because they were not happy with anything else that year and they felt she deserved one!)? Or Ford a second Pulitzer? Again, I liked Let Me Be Frank With You, but it wasn't of the caliber of Independence Day or, even, Lay of the Land... Between Ford and Oates, I would have gone for Oates. Now, if All the Light was not the fourth book, but in the original pool, did the introduction of the fourth book swing someone on the board to vote for All the Light?
Marybethking Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 @AlexKerner Here is my grassy knoll theory. People have their favorite authors. I might put Oates in the contention for any book she publishes in a year after reading 'Blonde.' I have yet to read any of Ford's books, but let's presume the same thing happened. As a reader, we can be so blinded by the previous good works of an author that we believe they deserve a second Pulitzer for a piece that might be viewed through 'rose colored glasses' based upon our previous reading experiences with that author.
JohnZ Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 @AlexKerner I'm not a subscriber to WSJ, so I wasn't able to read the article in its entirety. I'm wondering if Doerr's novel was the fourth placed into position for the prize. I almost think it would have to be. If not, the board might well have chosen from the other three, which it would appear didn't happen.

As you said, ey814, Cather's win came from the fact that the other books published that year were ones the board didn't feel were good enough to get behind. And if I remember correctly, Ms. Cather's novel was the first winner to deal deeply with the effects of war on individuals. If it was a kind of consolation prize that was bestowed, I think it was a good one. I enjoyed the novel. I found it well-written and moving.

I also think McCarthy's win falls into the category of consolation. He's written better novels than The Road, which despite some moving passages, I found to be manipulative.

But the board has not always adhered to the jury's selections. Advise and Consent, which hadn't been mentioned by the jury, was nominated and chosen by the board as the winner of its year. And while I didn't think Drury's novel was bad, it's not among my favorite winners. I didn't feel Drury did an ample job of handling so many characters. Now and then there would appear in the text a well-conveyed image or situation, but it was a rare occurrence. Much of the time the story felt muddled and, here and there, contrived.

And of course it's already been discussed elsewhere here on the site that the drama board nominated and chose Next to Normal. The board of its year also did the same with Rabbit Hole, which the jury hadn't even named as a finalist. Which makes me wonder why a jury is even presented as part of the process. One thinks if you ask a panel of people to put forth the energy and time to read an exorbitant amount of novels, and from them choose a trio for consideration, one of those three should then indeed be chosen. Otherwise, those who comprise a jury have engaged in what amounts to a thankless task.

I agree the novel or collection chosen for the prize should be based on the merit of the work alone. That said, it seems to me that such a thing doesn't always happen; that some writers, whose works strike a nerve, are sometimes recognized for books that, while good, are no more special or better than the works they'd already written. For example, would Hemingway have won for The Old Man and the Sea (don't get me wrong; it's a beautiful book) if he'd won for For Whom the Bell Tolls? I think the latter was offered for the prize, but the board rejected it and instead went with "No Award" that year.

All of this causes me to think that, with the wonderful work she's done (and continues to do), Ms. Oates may well one day win a Pulitzer.
AlexKerner Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ @ey814 @AlexKerner It does appear that the Board in this case was not happy with the three finalists and the jury came back offering All the Light...this is Book Riot's take at least. I find it disappointing to be honest, because All the Light was probably provided because it is pretty non offensive and was such a commercial success rather than it being worthy (which it may be but wouldn't it have been better if it had been nominated alongside some very worthy books we all identified). Why choose three books that NO ONE had on their top 10 lists and had gotten no love from the other awards...feels like the jury just wanted to be different. At least the jury in the year no award had been given had put forward three books that had gotten some notice.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 22, 2015
@AlexKerner @JohnZ @ey814 The finalists are indeed strange. The Moor's Account got a little attention by the New Yorker, among others, but wasn't on anyone's top lists. Another strange year, for sure.
tklein27 Apr 23, 2015
@ey814 @AlexKerner Mike, you have explained to me before how your brilliant regression model works, and I think I understand the basics. But I'm beginning to wonder whether winning the Pulitzer previously makes you less likely to win again. It seems to me that winning the Pulitzer twice puts an author in a exclusive club with Faulkner, Warren, Updike, Tarkington. It's a bigger honor. It's as though previous winners are competing for a different award - a prize with much higher standards.

So if your model applies points for appearances on notable lists and other awards, it might make sense to subtract points for previously winning the Pulitzer.
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@tklein27 @ey814 @AlexKerner Hi Tom. Yes, in fact having won a Pulitzer previously has a negative weight in the regression model, so prior Pulitzer winners lose points from that because a 2x winner is so rare! It's not the highest ranking negatively weighted variable, oddly enough. An author having multiple previous (e.g., more than one) PEN/Faulkner nominations holds that distinction. Other negatively weighted variables include the author having been a prior John Dos Passos Prize winner (given for a mid-career writer whose work is seen as underappreciated), the author being a prior LA Times winner in the past five years, the author receiving multiple NBCC awards, the author being a multiple time PEN/Faulkner winner, and the author having mulitple (e.g., 2 or more) previous Pulitzer nominations.

Now, when considering these things (and some of them only take off tenths and hundredths of points, I should note), I think that there are a few authors (like Oates, Don Delillo, EL Doctorow) who have been nominated and nominated and nominated for awards who have not won the Pulitzer and because the pool of multi-nominated PEN/Faulkner nominated authors or winners, multi-nominated Pulitzer nominated authors, etc. is so small, that results in the negative weighting. Take winning the NBCC multiple times... I went back and looked at prior winners only Doctorow (3 times) and Updike (2 times) have won it more than once. So, Doctorow's three wins but no Pulitzer outweighs Updikes two wins and Pulitzer win to result in a negative weight.

So, Robinson's Lila was at the top of the list despite having been docked points for being a previous Pultizer winner!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 24, 2015
@ey814 @tklein27 @AlexKerner Does that mean the model itself should be slightly adjusted? Or does that mean it is right where it should be?
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @tklein27 @AlexKerner Not sure I was clear. Not really. I actually use a Discriminant Function Analysis, which is intended to determine from among a number of predictor variables which best predict a particular outcome (e.g., winning the Pulitzer). There are 30 some-odd variables entered into the analysis. The process assigns weight to variables that are significant predictors (with the highest weights to the strongest predictors) and those variables that are not significant predictors are simply left out of the model. So, there's really nothing to adjust... it is, what it is!
tklein27 Apr 25, 2015
@ey814 I figured you had it all worked out. It's amazing that Lila scored so high despite having negative points for the author's prior win. It's a really strong book. Too bad the jury didn't see it that way. :-(
BRAKiasaurus Apr 23, 2015
JpCambert Apr 21, 2015
Now that The Prize has been awarded, I would love to hear some of your favorite novels from last year that were no eligible for the PP. A couple that were very highly touted (neither of which I've yet read) are A Brief History of Seven Killings and The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Again, I've not yet read either of them but if you have I would love your thoughts. And if there are any others you might recommend I would love to hear them.
jfieds2 Apr 21, 2015
My goal the last few years has been merely to have read the eventual winner prior to the announcement. I've done so since 2011. The fact I own signed firsts from the last three years, including a very personal inscription from Adam Johnson, is just icing. I like the idea of collecting, but money, space (including anything approaching proper storage) and the fact that I am moving for the third time in three years soon (and likely will have to again within 2...such is life in NYC), makes a major commitment impossible. I'll still be reading and commenting though.
JohnZ Apr 21, 2015
@jfieds2 I'm probably in the minority here, but I've never been one who gets his books signed by their authors. I know there are those who do this and enjoy it, and of course there's nothing wrong with it.

That said, it's nice you received a personal inscription from Adam. He and I correspond via e-mail and Facebook, and he's a extremely kind and helpful person. Ditto goes for Robert Olen Butler!
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ @jfieds2 I understand the issue of space limitations, although I'm not cramped into a NYC apartment, but in a 3-story, 100-year old home in the Great Plains! I'm in the process of building floor to ceiling shelving around three walls of what had been a bedroom but is now my study (nice wood floors, walnut shelving) and, alas, it will still not be enough space. So, the space issue is relative if one has the collecting bug! I know @DustySpines had to box and move a collection from a larger space in Los Angeles to NYC (what is your space situatino these days @DustySpines?). I once stood in line to have Annie Proulx sign some books and was talking with the person next to me, who, by the quality of her books was clearly also a collector, and she was saying that both she and her husband were collectors, and that the foundation of their house (this was in Dallas) had to be repaired due to the weight of the books, so they bought another house strictly for purposes of housing their collection! I met a collector at a book fair one time who stored his 8,000 books in a climate-controlled storage unit (I confess that in the move in to the house in which I'm building shelves, I too have had to rent a climate controlled storage unit to temporarily house my books).

@JohnZ seems to me that it's more awkward (may not be best way to express that) for other authors and/or editors/publishers to get books signed... you're in the same industry, you're peers to an extent. I don't know that many authors who are also rabid book collectors. Umberto Eco is probably the most famous author/collector. Seems like some of the genre authors are also collectors. I find that the opportunity to get a book signed gives me the chance to meet an author I've read and enjoyed, at least tell that author I enjoy their work, and the signed copy (which I usually have personalized to me, which in some minds lessens the value of the signature) becomes an object with a personal connection to me and not just another book off the shelf. At times, authors are indifferent, but at times I've had really pleasant conversations with authors. I've seen Robert Olen Butler several times, and he's a really nice guy... likes to talk, hangs around after an event, etc. I've seen Richard Ford a couple of times, and had nice (short) conversations with him both times. Jennifer Egan, Michael Chabon, Richard Russo, Geraldine Brooks and others have been very nice and interactive. I'm disappointed that Donna Tartt has not, from what I can tell, made any appearances. I appreciate that authors are not performers, but she has been richly compensated from sales of Goldfinch and, seems to me, a chance for readers to meet and compliment her would outweigh some reticence to appear in public. We'll see.
JohnZ Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 @JohnZ @jfieds2 @DustySpines Space, or a lack thereof, is something with which I struggle, too. In fact, I've always kept my books in my bedroom. There came a time, however, at the point I discovered I had accrued a large library, that it became necessary for me to do some rearranging and downsizing. Something in my bedroom had to go. Naturally, it was the bed (ha ha). So, now my "bedroom" is my "writing room."

I understand what you're saying in regard to collecting autographed books. Lee Martin gave me a book once and wrote a lovely inscription. He presented it to me as a gift, and I was moved. Once, at a reading I attended, he introduced me to his students as being "a man of letters." I'm fairly sure I blushed (ha ha).

For me, the important thing in regard to collecting books is to find clean, unblemished editions. At my local bookstore, when buying a book, I peruse every copy of said book. It happened earlier today, when I went to purchase God Help the Child. I'm sure I look a little peculiar when I do it, for I inspect the binding, the pages, the dust jackets -- all of this with a degree of concentration that might well draw bemused looks from others.

But finally, it's the words on those pages, the lives of the characters, the skill and discipline and talent that connect me.
cbmsb Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ @ey814 @jfieds2 @DustySpines I also scrutinize every copy, JohnZ, but as surreptitiously as I can. I don't want people to think I'm more mercenary than literary.
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@JohnZ @ey814 @jfieds2 @DustySpines I, of course, do the same thing :-).
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
I wonder if we can look forward to a Christmas with some Barnes and Noble signed first printings of All the Light they've squirreled away in a warehouse somewhere. If I recall correctly, though, Tartt's book didn't go into subsequent printings as fast as Doerr's did, if it did at all.
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@DustySpines The B&N signed copies of Goldfinch were identified as first editions, with the full number line, but the quality of the paper was different and they clearly were printed for the purpose of having the deluxe signed editions. At least that's what I remember (my copies are still in book boxes). That said, I hope they do issue another series of signed first editions this Christmas. I do believe Doerr's first printing run was less than the first printing run for Goldfinch. I have an ARC of All the Light (again, packed in a box however), so when I can get to it I'll see if they published a print run on it. Will probably make this book harder to find in the first edition.

I noted that there was a Powell's Indiespensable version of All the Light, but also the Odyssey Bookshop First Editions Club included All the Light as one of their selections this year. In fact, since Odyssey also selected Goldfinch last year and Orphan Masters Son the year before, that's three years in a row that members received a signed first edition of the eventual Pulitzer winner. And, further, the Book Passage Signed First Editions Club also included All the Light as one of its selections this year. It was Book Passage, along with Powell's, that produced hardback copies of Tinkers for its club members the year that won. In addition, Orphan Masters Son was a selection at Book Passage.
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 @DustySpines Thanks! I checked my ARC of All the Light and it didn't provide a print run. Good to know.

@EdParks... what are your thoughts about the request for the fourth submission? All sorts of interesting scenarios play out there. Personally, I wish they had given it to Oates.
ey814 Apr 24, 2015
@EdParks Haven't read it yet... still trying to finish Lila, which I thought would be the winner :-). I have been thinking about how to change the process. Is it just a matter of the jury members in a given year? All the major book awards use the method of having a small jury read every submission, but perhaps in light of the high number of publishers in the digital era of book publishing, that's no longer viable. Maybe have a jury submit more than 3 recommended books? But, as long as the entire Pulitzer Board has to read every recommendation from every jury in which a Pulitzer is awarded, I can't see them agreeing to read more novels.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
And, just noticed, two years in a row that a book with the word Frank in the title has been a finalist!
JohnZ Apr 21, 2015
@ey814 What I'm noticing is that the past two winners have dealt with families torn apart by bombs. I mean, it happened in The Goldfinch (a wonderfully written and horrifying scene), and it seems to be coming up in All the Light You Cannot See. Could there be a pattern here (wink wink)?
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ I did think the bomb sequence in Goldfinch was brilliant. It really got you into the book and the story and seemed very 'real.'
JohnZ Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 @JohnZ Agreed. It was with that initial incident that I became intrigued. Elements of the set-up were a bit obvious (i.e., the ring entrusted to Theo), but given the muscularity of the prose and Tartt's powerful description, I overlooked it.

I'm thinking maybe Doerr is doing something similar in All the Light We Cannot See. I mean, come on, the Sea of Flames is doubtless going to figure more largely in the story given the time he spends remarking on it.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
Just to observe, Richard Ford has done pretty well with the Frank Bascombe Books. The Sportswriter, the first in the series, was a PEN/Faulkner finalist. Independence Day, the second in the series, won the Pulitzer, won the Pen/Faulkner, and was an NBCC finalist. The Lay of the Land, the third in the series, was an NBCC finalist. And, Let me be Frank with You, the fourth in the series, was a Pulitzer finalist.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 I hope he isn't finished yet either! Here is an interesting set of his ruminations I stumbled upon.
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@DustySpines @ey814 I too hope he's not done with the series. Probably because I'm about the same age as the fictional Frank Bascombe, I find Ford's ruminations on life through Bascombe to hit home for me.

One of the times I saw Richard Ford, he mentioned that he gets ideas for book topics, and writes them down, but he has a separate folder for those clippings and snippets that he thinks relates to Frank Bascombe, and that folder is stored in his refrigerator freezer!
JohnZ Apr 21, 2015
@ey814 I wouldn't have minded seeing The Lay of the Land as a Pulitzer finalist or winner. Though that year I would have gone with The Echo Maker by Richard Powers.
ey814 Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ @ey814 I thought The Echo Maker was a great book. That's the year The Road won, right? I liked Lay of the Land a lot, would agree that it could/should have been a finalist, although I haven't read Alice McDermott's After This, which was the other finalist that year (along with Echo Maker).
JohnZ Apr 22, 2015
@ey814 @JohnZ Yes, that was the year The Road won (though I don't think it should have). The Echo Maker grabbed me from the first few pages and kept me locked in the story. It's rare that a writer can explore the human condition and science and make both bracing and intriguing. In lesser hands, the story might have been dry and a bit too esoteric. But Powers balanced the various elements beautifully.

The Lay of the Land should at least have been in contention. I mean, the scenes in which Frank visits the funeral home and later has that altercation in the bar? They're terrific. While reading them, the world fell away from me; I was right there with Frank, inside his mind, laughing and wincing. Or when he goes to see his ex-wife at the school where she teaches? The conversation they have? Ford conveys so much without being obvious about it. I felt as if I were not reading about characters in a story, per se, as I was spending time with human beings I had come to know intimately.

And I think McDermott is a writer who consistently writes wonderful books. Which means if she should one day win a Pulitzer, I wouldn't be surprised.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
We're gonna need a 2016 prediction page! Stat!

Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
I nominate Nancy Pearl for the 2016 round.
michijake Apr 20, 2015
Does anyone else think it's strange that both Elizabeth Taylor and Alan Cheuse were also on the jury in 2011? You'd think they would try and mix things up a little more.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @michijake They probably have a hard time getting anyone to read hundreds of submissions :-). I'm a painfully slow reader, I'd never make it!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 @michijake Like I said below, I really enjoy Alan Cheuse's reviews--he was an early adopter of Tinkers, among others. I haven't read Doerr's novel yet, but I tend to like his suggestions.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus cache--well, only if you disparage Donna Tartt :)
JohnZ Apr 20, 2015
For the second year in a row, it seems there is a rather staunch polarization as to the book which has been awarded the Pulitzer. I'll admit to being surprised by Doerr's win, although last week, while at the bookstore, I caught sight of All the Light We Cannot See in the bestseller section and thought, "Who knows? It might win" -- much as I did last year, when The Goldfinch won.

I say this not from a place of conceit, but it does surprise me that what is regarded more as mainstream fiction has won these last two years. When I think of great writers, names like Morrison and Roth and Steinbeck and Robinson, etc., come into my mind. I'm talking about writers who do something with words that is clearly beautiful, intriguing, and exemplary; that move you in the most profound and passionate way.

That said, I enjoyed The Goldfinch. Even with its grammatical errors, its parenthetical asides that began but did not end, and sometimes uxorious loyalty to detail (the old "let's-cram-every-possible-thing-in-here" deal), I felt Tartt's exploration of grief was accurate, and some of the scenes were well-done. Also, I enjoyed a number of the characters.

I've just started All the Light We Cannot See. I'm enjoying it, but I haven't yet gotten that tingling thrill that comes when I read something that grabs my attention and doesn't let go. The writing, while not bad, has yet to begin to soar. The chapters are short and fragmentary, and I've the feeling the story is going to be told in what amounts to a practice we screenwriters recognize as being "whip-pan" in execution. The old flip-it-back-and-forth style of storytelling. Which isn't necessarily bad, provided such a fractured structure fits the story. I'm not that far into it, but already I can see the cataloguing of minute details rearing its head (i.e., the description of Marie-Laure's model city). We'll see if it's something Doerr continues throughout the book.

Usually, I try not to read the Pulitzer-winner until it's announced, sometimes holding off reading some of those books that seem to be high in the running. Then, after the winner is announced and I begin to read it, I try to decipher those particular moments or sequences which might have encouraged the jury and board to bestow the prize. I know it might seem silly, but it's something I enjoy doing -- exploring not only the story itself, but the elements of which it's comprised that might have been deciding factors regarding the prize.

As of now, All the Light We Cannot See is neither terrible nor great. I'll let you know what I think as I get deeper into it.

I'll say this: It was wonderful to see Ms. Oates mentioned as a finalist. She's a stunning writer; clearly one of our best. If I'm correct, she's been a finalist multiple times. I recall the jury of its year suggesting "them" for the prize. The Wheel of Love was also mentioned by the jury of its year. Also Black Water, What I Lived For, and Blonde were mentioned during their years. So, despite what I've read in some recent articles, Ms. Oates is not a three-time nominee, but a five-time nominee.

One has the hope that one day she will be recognized by the board. She's lost none of her talent and skill, so one can certainly have no doubt that one day she will deliver a novel that the board embraces.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@JohnZ I think it depends on what you count as "finalists." Technically, the Pulitzer foundation identifies the first year in which they announced finalists as 1980. In that time, Black Water, What I Lived For, and Blonde were all 'official' finalists. If one goes back to the records and reads through the books the jury recommended to the Pulitzer Board in the days when they recommended more than three, as you suggest, I do recall that 'them' was mentioned and I wouldn't be at all surprised if others were mentioned in other letters. But, I think the "official" count (per Pulitzer foundation) with this year's nomination is four. I should note that the completist in me wants to collect anything that even has a patina of "finalist", so I've tried to pick up any book a jury mentioned in a letter (I'm not pursuing this that intensely, but just as a side collection), so I agree with the spirit of what you suggest!
JohnZ Apr 21, 2015
@ey814 @JohnZ I remembering reading in the chronicles that the jury that year thought "them" should not only be a finalist, but should win the prize. Which happened from time to time. Examples: Norman Rush's Whites; Thomas Berger's The Feud; Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise. Of course, the board felt differently.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@JohnZ Here is my last comment on the topic. If you just started a novel, how can you be surprised that it won? And, those 'golden nuggets' of writing are everywhere throughout the novel.
JohnZ Apr 21, 2015
@Marybethking @JohnZ I'm surprised that, for the second year in a row, something so popular and mainstream won the prize. Not that "popular" or "mainstream" books aren't good, or fail to be worth one's time, or fail to be deserving. One of the best examples, I think, is Lonesome Dove. It was extremely popular and well-written. McMurtry deserved it. Though I think he was rather puzzled by it. He has said it's not his favorite of his novels. In fact, Lonesome Dove started as a screenplay, and when the film didn't get made, McMurtry decided to do a novelization of it. And the book just took off. Rightly so.

What I find odd is that the Board would make such another mainstream choice so soon. Having read all of the books that won the Pulitzer (well, with the exception of this year's winner, which I'm now reading), I know not all of them were great. But, with some exceptions, I found most left me thinking that the choices made were the right ones. Aside from March, The Road, The Store, and a few others, there weren't any winners that left me scratching my ahead or bemoaning the fact that other books published in those given years failed to be recognized with the prize. Was A Visit from the Goon Squad great literature? Well, it wasn't bad literature; it was inventive if a bit cold; it seemed to be playing a game with time that ran just this side of turning into gimmickry; but yeah, it was all right. Though in no way does it brush elbows with the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Orphan Master's Son, Beloved, The Known World, A Thousand Acres, The Executioner's Song… and many others -- books that are (or are destined to become) classics.

What I was thinking might happen this year (after last year's winner, which, despite a few problems, I liked quite a bit) was that the Board would choose a book that is less popular or not already a staple on best-seller lists. Something akin to, say, what happened the year Tinkers won.

Again, I say none of this from a place of conceit. Being a writer, my taste in reading is eclectic, and I like to keep it that way. As Faulkner advised, "Read everything you can."

So please understand that by saying I was surprised by All the Light We Cannot See's win was not meant as a criticism of the book; it was just surprising to me, given last year's winner, that a book already so popular and on the radar was recognized for the prize.

I've been reading it this evening, and I'm enjoying it. But, as yet, I'm not bowled over by it. Sometimes when I begin reading a book, it grabs me right away. The books I mentioned near the end of the second paragraph did that. Lee, Johnson, Morrison, Jones, Smiley, Mailer -- they drew me in within the first few pages, and for a time I was in another time and place, a mental traveler. With The Goldfinch, it took longer for that to happen; but, as I said, Theo's story eventually got to me. Whether it was better or more deserving than what Meyer and Shacochis offered is for an individual to decide.

Thus far, I have yet to be fully drawn in by Doerr. Is what I've read thus far good? Pretty much. A number of the descriptions are vivid, and some of the similes work well (though not all of them). He's doing a good job of bringing another time and place to life in my imagination. But what he seems to be up to is also, at times, obvious. Consider Werner. It's not taking much in the way of heavy lifting to discern that Doerr is attempting to gain empathy for a character who, as a Nazi Youth, would be an antagonist in another novel. The presence of ambiguity seems a bit more manufactured than it does inevitable. Perhaps that will change. But by giving Werner such a devastating childhood, it appears Doerr is being a bit obvious in the manipulating emotions department. But as I said, we'll see.

Also, the dialogue is often good, though not always. For example, the children's responses during the story of the Sea of Flames fell a bit flat, as if Doerr felt some kind of filler was needed to break up the telling of the tale. The "Uh-oh" and the "Hush" and etc. -- they struck me more as a writer speaking for some kind of desired stylistic effect or elongation than they did the characters speaking naturally for themselves.

And what of the tale? It seems it will echo through the life of another character in the story: Marie-Laure. That little marble she was clutching when the bombs fell? The hardships she and her family were then forced to endure? The question of being under a curse or just suffering from good luck or bad luck? Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but it seems Doerr is setting some things up a bit too tidily, as if there's a mental checklist that needs to be minded. And, personally speaking, mental checklists run the danger of taking one out of a story, because what then gets in the way of reading and experiencing said story is a writer's preoccupation with style. It's better not to give too clear an idea of what lies ahead. As for the latter, what Morrison and Smiley did in their Pulitzer-winners was tantamount to alchemy, as you read along in those stories, receive a piece of information, and -- BAM! It's like you've been struck with a two-by-four. Suddenly, things begin to click; things you never saw coming.

I have the hope my suspicions turn out to be wrong with Doerr's novel. But it does seem to be the direction in which the story's headed.
tklein27 Apr 20, 2015
Can anyone post some pics i can use for the website? I want to get a page up for the winner, but I do not have a reference copy.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@tklein27 i have a signed copy I can photograph when i get home. if someone doesn't beat me to it.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines @tklein27 Same. How do we get them to you?
tklein27 Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines @tklein27 You can email them to
tklein27 Apr 26, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines Thanks for the photos. They were a big help, and thanks to @ey814 for confirming the book color and number of pages.

I finally have the criteria posted:
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
now that this year's prize has been awarded, my first nomination for 2016 is 'The Sympathizer' by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
bigread Apr 20, 2015
Hey Dusty, "American life" had a dog in that fight.
OneMoreBook Apr 20, 2015
Not surprised at all about the Doerr win. Beautiful book. Did not read many others on the "Top 15" and frankly find it refreshing to see finalists, etc., that are "off the radar." Klay and Akhil and a few more I read didn't cut it at all, in my opinion, and while I don't like the Oates novels, I'm going to read her stories now, for sure. (Keeps us on our toes - or eyes - for good reads that most people don't know about. I think I heard it right during the YouTube announcement: 1400 books submitted. Duh! We can never read them all. Thank gawd.)
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@OneMoreBook Her stories are absolutely wonderful. I've never read a collection by her, but everything I've read in magazines, etc., has been fantastic.
jjose712 Apr 20, 2015
It's the second year in a row that the winner is published here in Spain before winning the award (in fact The Goldfinch was published here before The orphan's master son).
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
By the way, what does Doerr's book do for the assumption that "American life" preferably be central to the award winning work of fiction?
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines Certainly disrupts it.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines I've come to the conclusion that the juries or the board don't take that element very seriously any more. Orphan Masters Son and All the Light seem to suggest that it's not that important.
bigread Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines Hey Dusty. I'm just now learning how to use the system. Here's my response:

All The Light We Cannot See concerns an enormous element of American life. What else was America doing in 194_? I agree that Doerr worked every cliche in the book (no pun intended) but that's the money maker; also lots of good research here. As I understand it, ten years in writing.

The whole country is reading the book (book clubs, etc). There's one F word (towards the end).

And (IMHO) if Tartt can win for her book, then based on the same criteria, All The Light can win this year (although he's not as well festooned).
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
Now that the prize has been awarded, I can safely make my predictions. I didn't think Lila would win, nor did I suspect St.John Mandel had what it took. And I've only read Euphoria, Redeployment, Dept of Speculation, and Family Life from our list, each of which I enjoyed. I had a feeling about Euphoria--that it might win. And Hunt's Neverhome sounded like a plausible dark horse to me. Never would have guessed Ford or Oates.

For those commenting about the literary quality of Doerr's work, he is still an enormous step up from Tartt, IMO. The short stories I read of his were quality.
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines I have to totally disagree with your assessment of Tartt. The Goldfinch left me exhilarated..All the Light left me feeling ho hum about what I had just read.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@AlexKerner @DustySpines I find her writing pedestrian and in dire need of editing. But reasonable people will disagree.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines @AlexKerner The story was engagng and hard to put down. The writing was very often terrible. That said, the part in Nevada was beautiful. Had the entire book been of that quality, it would have deserved the Pulitzer.

That said, I understand the appeal.

Haven't read Doerr's novel, but his earlier work is wonderful. Alan Cheuse is on the Jury, and I trust his reviews generally. He was an early advocate of Tinkers.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines @AlexKerner I should reiterate that Goldfinch did NOT deserve the Pulitzer, not at all, but I get the appeal of it.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines @AlexKerner I still think Lila should have won :-)
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @DustySpines @AlexKerner That strikes me as a bit hyperbolic, given that his previous work struck me as wonderful. (The choice of Tartt was a slap in the face, given that there were other flawless novels published last year. This year was more uneven--which is why I'm surprised by all the, well, surprises--I think we sussed out a lot of particularly brilliant novels.)

Additionally, the jury changes year-to-year, and with that the evaluations, the preferences, the approaches, the manners in which the jurists coalesce around their selections, all changes. To say that you will dismiss an award that, if nothing else, always brings to attention some of the year's best fiction is silly.

I didn't agree with Goldfinch, the non-award, The Road, March, The Hours, Martin Dressler, A Summons to Memphis, Humboldt's Gift, etc. (And don't get me started on the quality of certain finalists.) Some of these winners are fine novels--and deserved to be considered--but I would have chosen a different finalist. Some flat-out should not have been among the 3 finalists. But I always return to it knowing that its track record is usually very very good.

I would have much preferred Atticus Lish and Ben Lerner be finalists, but Doerr has received a lot of praise from a lot of people I trust. I'll give it a shot and report back.

As to the Pulitzer, I'll continue to be a fan.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @DustySpines @AlexKerner Wow. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and, while I've read your reasoning for disliking it, I can't possibly explain the vehemence with which you do. Of course, I don't have to explain it, as we all have and are entitled to, our own opinions. I am now about 10% into Lila and, I must say that I find it as tedious and, quite frankly, as boring, as her previous two Gilead entries.

I would say that you are entitled to your opinion, but would also caution you against the use of such hyperbole in expressing it. Especially when faced with other (differing) opinions on a forum such as this one, comprised of reasonably well read people. You didn't like it...we get it. Let us also not forget that it was a finalist for the National Book Award. While that, in and of itself, is not any sort of "proof" that it was a good book (as no such proof can exist in matters such as these), you are choosing to completely disregard/discredit the opinions of quite a few folks in the awards community that felt differently than you with regards to this book.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Must have been typing my response as you were typing yours, and, I agree with it 100%. To dismiss it completely and disparage it, in light of the praise it has received from some VERY distinguished people is, in my opinion, silly. I know, for example, that I'm in the minority (especially on communities such as this one), when it comes to the Gilead trilogy. I also recognize the brilliance in her writing, in spite of my bored-to-tears status as I'm reading them.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 @BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines @AlexKerner I'll go a step further and say that, with the exception of Ed on here, I've not yet found anyone who's opinion I truly respect who has DISLIKED this book.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks On the shelves as the well deserved Pulitzer Prize winner of 2015. You can have your opinion/ burn your first edition signed copy. But, the winner is the winner. I was so upset last year with the 'Goldfinch' win over 'Someone.' But, you have to take the good with the bad. 'The Orphan Master's Son' and 'Visit From the Goon Squad' were beyond brilliant and deserved the recognition. I'm also over the moon that Joyce Carol Oates was nominated. I don't even care if her book was all that good for this year. However, 'Blonde' was such a masterpiece that I might be slightly in love with her writing style. To be done with something or compare Doerr's writing to Danielle Steele or John Grisham is obtuse at best. But, your opinion is your opinion. People give up golf, running, and all kinds of hobbies for lesser reasons. I'm sure that the board, jury, and Doerr himself are very concerned that you're throwing in the towel. I was in similar company last year so I understand how it feels.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert I don't get 'Gilead' or 'Lila' either for that matter.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert Ed, it strikes me that you seem to enjoy quiet novels about the humanity in day-to-day lives, the revelations that can be found therein. Additionally, you seem fairly preoccupied with high quality writing, something that perhaps inspires you to write yourself or, at least, seems to reveal something to you, to stick with you.

You are someone whose opinion I have come to respect regarding such novels on this forum. Assuming you don't take issue with the premise--it is possible that I am projecting too strongly my own proclivities--it wouldn't surprise me if richly plotted books (as I take Doerr's to be) may not be the books to which you would typically bestow major awards.

That is just my observation based on the books you have touted--feel free to correct me. I tend to lean the same way, which accounts for my picks both this year and last.

That said, the pulitzer tends to be given to either perfectly written short stories or novels with large plots; while occasionally those plot-driven novels find their way onto my list of favorites ("Middlesex" has always been one of my favorite novels and "The Son" was one of my favorites as well)--I will always prefer to see quiet, richly-observed books like "Someone", "All There Is", "Tinkers", "Preparation for the Next Life", and "Train Dreams" win the award.

But that is just my preference (and perhaps it is yours as well). The judges will have others. And then of course they must come to a consensus.

You must admit you seem to be in the minority regarding Doerr's novel. And so, it is likely a book around which it is easy to find consensus.

The process is likely flawed (as exhibited by the fact that there was no award given a couple years ago), but the process that helped elevate Doerr is the same process that kept a novel like "Tinkers" from fading away into obscurity. And that is a process I will continue to stand by.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks And, I am also in agreement with you over 'A Little Life.' It's not that great at all either.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @BRAKiasaurus @DustySpines @AlexKerner I only thought her previous victories might work against her. As a collector, I was hoping she'd win though I haven't read this one--from the readings I heard it sounded more lively than the first two. In fact, I doubled down and got another copy signed when you put up your final predictions.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks I also agree with you on 'The Tiger's Wife' and 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.' Beyond awful.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks I've not claimed it "worthy of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction" at any point. I try to refrain from such judgements, as I don't feel myself nearly sufficiently well-read to make that type of grandiose statement. I enjoyed it. I felt it to be VERY well written. In fact, I enjoyed it significantly more than I enjoyed Gilead (which did, in fact, win the Pulitzer prize). I only bring that up (you seem to be a fan of Gilead and Robinson's) in order to demonstrate that literary tastes differ.

Was it my favorite novel published last year? No. Although it was likely in my top 3-5. I hate "ranking" as there were quite a few novels I felt were brilliant. So, I will leave the "Pulitzer Prize worthy" assertions to...ahem....the Pulitzer Prize board. Clearly they felt it worthy. The National Book Award also felt it worthy of being one of it's finalists. The NY Times also felt it to be one of the top five works of fiction published last year. Again, this isn't any sort of "proof" that you are wrong, as there can be no such thing. It is, however, proof that people/organizations/critics who are generally VERY well regarded in the literary community loved the book. Which is why I feel like your completely disparaging the book (and, in turn, all those who liked it or even loved it), is slightly insulting.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert I feel the same way about Grisham. Where did that come from? I haven't brought him up. Although, I do like him as one of my favorite "genre" fiction writers working presently.
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert @EdParks we have preferences and books that speak to us and writing that we personally find more literary than others. But @EdParks over the top dismissal of certain books as "unworthy" comes off a bit snobbish to be honest. I find it really annoying when people go on and on about writing being flawed or pedestrian. We are all recreational readers (I assume) that love literature and we go on this forum because we enjoy championing certain books and having intelligent conversations about books. But to suggest books like the Goldfinch and All the Light are somehow below an arbitrary standard you have deemed necessary to warrant consideration as good or great literature is wrongheaded in my opinion. Both those books, for example, received rave reviews from tons of critics and have been championed by people who have significant credibility in literary circles. Does this mean you have to agree with their opinion? No. Does it mean that these books are great literature? Not necessarily. I completely understand that you may not think these novels as your favourite choices (All the Light was not my choice for this year) but I don't really have time for literary snootiness and that may just mean I won't pay that much attention to your opinions in the future.
JohnZ Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert That's what it comes down to, really: people cannot extricate what they prefer aesthetically from art. For me, Grisham doesn't write novels so much as he churns out products, all of which end up looking more or less the same. The only character of his I remember even vaguely liking was Reggie Love.

To me, Grisham is a paint-by-numbers writer. I have a feeling that, next to his computer (or typewriter, etc.), there is a book called How to Write a Best-seller in 21 Days, and he refers to it copiously. This results in uninspired stories depending far too heavily on cliffhangers, and such stories do not appeal to me. Most of the time, his work bores me. Rather like Dan Brown. Or Nicholas Sparks. Or James Patterson. I prefer stories that are not cardboard cut-out regurgitations of work the writers have already done. I enjoy books that have been written with care and thought, rather than those churned out for mass consumption.

But to each his or her own. If people enjoy Grisham, they enjoy Grisham. So long as I don't have to subject myself to reading about the caricatured characters and tepid storytelling that are found in his novels, I've no problem with it.
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert @EdParks but that is the great thing about discussing and debating books...we can agree to disagree and realize not all tastes align
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @AlexKerner sorry i tried to be diplomatic and maybe i failed a bit with that original post
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @AlexKerner i personally wasn't crazy about it to be honest but it obviously had enough boosters to win the award. and i was being harsh. i'll read your opinions and take them into account as I do everyone who likes talking about fiction.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@AlexKerner @EdParks For what it's worth, I respect your opinion Ed. I will usually pick up any book you recommend, even if it is unlikely to win the pulitzer. ;)
JpCambert Apr 21, 2015
@AlexKerner @JpCambert @EdParks Amen, brother. Couldn't have said it better myself. God knows I tried.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
Anyone read "Moor's Account" or the Carol Oates collection? To be fair, every short story I've read by Oates has been masterful....her novels I can live without.
cbmsb Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I was bored by the Amazon excerpt of The Moor's Account.
JohnZ Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Her novels, like her short stories, are damned good. Some are even great. Do yourself a favor: if you haven't already read it, seek out a copy of Black Water. It's short and powerful, the kind of book to be read in one sitting -- which has been the experience of those whom I know who have read it. (It was also a Pulitzer finalist, wink-wink.)
BRAKiasaurus Apr 22, 2015
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus I read "Black Water" and really didn't like it at all. I realize all of her novels are pretty different, and I know she has been a finalist many times. I started "Blonde" years ago--not sure why I didn't continue with it--but her novels just haven't attracted me. Perhaps I shouldn't have started with "Black Water"; perhaps I would enjoy it if I gave it another shot now.

But, as I said, it doesn't surprise me that her short stories would be recognized--the surprise, in fact, is that they haven't been recognized prior to this.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
For those of you who listened to the broadcast, you heard Mike Pride, the Pulitzer Administrator, say specifically that jurors are supposed to submit three (3) nominations, from which the board selects a winner and two finalists. So, odd that we end up with a winner and three finalists. I presume the jury was not able to come to consensus on three and submitted four.

I like Richard Ford, and enjoyed reading Let Me be Frank with You, but don't see it as a major work and don't think it should have been a finalist. Haven't read The Moor's Account, and am very surprised that the Oates book made it as a finalist. I think it's her fourth time being a Pulitzer finalist.

DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 this prize and its finalists is becoming rather unpredictable, even as this website gets more accurate!
zacharybloomzooey Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 Actually there is the possibility of the jury coming up with its own finalist, the way it happened when Next to Normal won drama. They got three recommendations but maybe somebody on the Board loved Doerr's book and recommended it and they voted on having the option to include (with 2/3 of them voting yes).
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@zacharybloomzooey @ey814 Yes, good point. The board can come up with its own choice, or at least has in the past. In 2012, when the board chose not to award the Pulitzer because they could not get a majority for any of the three recommendations, they got a lot of grief from the book community and the jury that year. I wonder, if this is the scenario, if we'll hear from the jury about this!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @zacharybloomzooey I think this also happened in the 90s, the year A Thousand Acres won.
JohnZ Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 I have to say you're most likely correct regarding this year's jury being unable to arrive at a three-finalist consensus. The last time this happened in the fiction category was, I believe, in 1992. The winner that year (and rightly so) was A Thousand Acres; the three finalists were Mao II, Jernigan, and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.

From what I read regarding that year's jury, James Alan McPherson (winner in 1978 for Elbow Room) really liked Pirsig's Lila, which was kind of a loose sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and as such, McPherson felt it needed at least to be recognized as a finalist. The novel is still stocked today in bookstores, but it is found in the "Philosophy" section rather than the "Fiction" section.

Of this year's three finalists, perhaps one of the jurors felt passionately about a specific book or collection and wanted to see it at least mentioned.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 how did you do? have them all?

I had Doerr (grabbed an extra when it started to get tough to find) and a few copies of Ford.

I love Richard Ford, but a little surprised about this one.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@DustySpines @ey814 I had stocked up on Doerr's book and have signed copies of the Ford book. The other two I'm going to have to track down.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks We hope you're not done with us, though :-)
cbmsb Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks lol. Yes, two consecutive years the best-selling lit novel wins. But I own two AtLWCS signed and dated from the book launch, so I'm not complaining.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
I am beyond happy...find it ironic we were arguing about it right before it was announced as a winner.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks I'm curious, Ed. What did you find so objectionable about the novel? I liked it a great deal.
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert @EdParks I liked the book but didn't find it as compelling as The Goldfinch last year (which i know had some detractors here as well). Thematically All The Light reminded me a lot of The Book Thief, which IMO is significantly stronger and more powerful a read.

I am not particularly disappointed since 2014 was a mixed bag and Doerr definitely wrote the "it" book of the year, but I know 2015 is going to be considerable better with already A LIttle Life, Delicious Food and others appearing significantly better than anything we had presented to us this year.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
What does IMO mean?
jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking In my opinion. You'll also sometimes see IMHO (humble).
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
It was so much more than the 'it' book of the year. did you read the part about the almond cookies and the dying soldier? Or, the grayness on the front of the boxcars? Did anyone read the last page of this book? It's phenomenal and a well deserved win. The waiting out at the end reminded me of the film, 'Wait Until Dark.'
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @AlexKerner @JpCambert Read Preparation For the Next Life. Given the past books you have liked, it seems up your alley, Ed.
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
wasn't overally impressed by that novel, but congrats to Doerr anyway
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@grahammyers Now I'll have to read it :-)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
Just FYI, there was a Powell's signed edition of All the Light..
jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 I'll have to make sure that my mother is taking good care of the copy. I got one of those before suspending my Powell's membership!
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
@jfieds2 @ey814 Powells has a knack for picking the winner. Tinkers, Goldfinch, Light.
michijake Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 Someone earlier mentioned Odyssey Book Club, and I just want to point out that this is also the third year in a row that they've picked the Pulitzer winner:
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
it's number 4 again!!!
ey814 Apr 20, 2015

For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to "All the Light We Cannot See" byAnthony Doerr (Scribner), an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.

Finalists Also nominated as finalists in this category were: "Let Me Be Frank with You," byRichard Ford (Ecco), an unflinching series of narratives, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, insightfully portraying a society in decline; "The Moor's Account," byLaila Lalami (Pantheon), a creative narrative of the ill-fated 16th Century Spanish expedition to Florida, compassionately imagined out of the gaps and silences of history; and "Lovely, Dark, Deep," by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco), a rich collection of stories told from many rungs of the social ladder and distinguished by their intelligence, language and technique.
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 I know Ed hated this one, but I was entranced by All the Light. Has anyone read the other finalists?
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
@TELyles @ey814 the joyce carol oates wasn't even on my radar
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
@grahammyers Same
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
3 Finalists!! O_O
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
Winners up on website
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
All the Light!
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
The livestream is live... I'm watching a room full of people!

Media is no longer visible.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
Looks like Spring has not come to NYC yet... the trees outside the window look pretty bare!
AlexKerner Apr 20, 2015
youtube streaming of announcement has started!!!
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
Yesterday, I read a headline online yesterday that read 'women rush target in hopes of Pulitzer designs.' I thought this was somehow related to the design of the Pulitzer prize. It was in regards to a fashion line launched yesterday. Thank you everyone for a great year. Here's to great books, novelists, and technology bringing us all together like this.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking I know, and it's making it harder to Google "pulitzer" to see what is being said about the awards :-)
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @Marybethking There is only one Pulitzer in my mind, and her first name ain't Lilly! I just realized I said yesterday twice in my previous statement. Oops.
TELyles Apr 20, 2015
As always, thanks again to all of you for such an enriching reading experience over the past year. Here's to the (soon to be annointed) winner and on we are to 2016!
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@TELyles Time to post the 2016 Discussion Board :-)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
So, let me restate my prior post to be less confusing :-).

The Pulitzer Board ( is a standing committee that has the responsibility to make awards across all of the areas (fiction, drama, journalism, etc.). At the start of the process, the board appoints juries to read through and recommend potential winners. In the case of the fiction prize, it is a three person jury and they recommend three books to the board, who selects the winner from those three. We won't know who is on the jury for this year until after the announcement.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
We haven't heard who is on the fiction jury for this year, have we? My recollection is that we usually don't know until after the fact (the jurors are listed on the Pulitzer foundation website. The jurors apparently delivered a list of five books to the committee last Thursday/Friday and the committee will select from those (or not, as they did in 2012).
michijake Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 you think that means there will be one winner and 4 finalists this year?
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@michijake @ey814 I think I misspoke. The jury sends up three recommendations, the winner and finalist are selected by the committee. My bad.
michijake Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 Oh no problem - I'm not sure I could handle 4 finalists anyway!
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 junot diaz is the only author i see
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 katherine boo also. diaz seems to be the only novelist
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@grahammyers @ey814 He's on the Pulitzer board, not the jury. The board is a standing committee and it is that entity that makes final selections, based upon recommendations from juries that are established at the beginning of the year. But, Diaz is the only novelist on the board, I think.
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 my fault
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @grahammyers I thought we didn't know who was on the board until after the winner announcement?
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking @ey814 @grahammyers We know who is on the Pulitzer Board, but we don't know who was on the jury that the board created this year. The jury is comprised of three people and they work all year long, basically, to come up with three books to recommend to the Pulitzer board, which then makes the final selections.
grahammyers Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @Marybethking i'd like to know how many books in total they've read over the year
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@grahammyers @ey814 @Marybethking In my humble opinion, they only needed to read my three but who am I? :)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@grahammyers @ey814 @Marybethking It is certainly in the hundreds. Well, they have hundreds of books that are submitted by publishers. Some they read, some they read a bit and toss out, etc.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 how did you hear that number of four or five books? insider information? :)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking @ey814 Years ago, there wasn't a limit on the number of books the Jury would recommend to the Pulitzer board, and so you had years where they recommended 10-20 books. Over time, the Pulitzer board began to request that the jury recommend only three books, and that became the standard. I think they now instruct the jury to provide 3 recommendations and 3 only. And I wish it was insider information :-).
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
Hey, we're famous!

This news website discusses the success!
KLmcB Apr 20, 2015
Redeployment wins

finalists - Dept. of Speculation, Lila
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
Apparently, the LA Times book prizes were awarded on Saturday (April 18). Winning the LA Times Fiction prize is not in my prediction list because often the announcement of the award is after the announcement of the Pulitzer, though not this year. Being a finalist for the LA Times Prize is one of my predictor variables, but not that strong (in part because books by authors who are not U.S. Citizens are eligible). The finalists for this year were:

Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World Donald Antrim, The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories Jesse Ball, Silence Once Begun Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, BIrd Hustvedt won for The Blazing World. I can't recall if there was much discussion about this over the past year? Anyone read it? Thoughts?
BRAKiasaurus Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 I actually think Antrim's book is one to watch for this year. It is a very solid collection of stores--really enjoyed it.
KLmcB Apr 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @EdParks @ey814

totally agree on the Antrim book. I would love to see him win
jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 I started THE BLAZING WORLD but it wasn't my cup of tea in terms of it's style and approach. If it happens to win, I will give it a go, but from what I saw of it, I doubt the Pulitzer board would make it the winner, even if the jury made it a finalist.
Scott S Apr 20, 2015
Since I have not read any of the books that are eligible to win the 2015 prize, my guesses below are totally uninformed. But for the fun of it, guess I shall:

Winner: A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin

Finalist: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Finalist: Family Life by Sharma Akhil
Jessicadaffodil Apr 20, 2015

Winner: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Finalist: On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

Finalist: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

I love Marilynne Robinson and think that it would be wonderful if she becomes the first woman to win the price for a second time. Also, I have felt for months that Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson might get some Pulitzer recognition as a finalist.
jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015

Winner: LILA


jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015
Just a friendly reminder to anyone who might try refreshing the Pulitzer page before the award announcement at 3pm. Anything you see there prior to that time is, without a shadow of a doubt, indisputably wrong. I remember someone last year saying they saw THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS posted as the winner for a brief moment before it disappeared. I also seem to remember a similarly false book being reported as showing up and then disappearing in a previous year. I have no clue if these reports are correct, but if so, it would appear that the webmasters do a test post at some point. If true, it's strange that they have used a real eligible books and not "XXX by YYY", but regardless, there is not going to be an early leak on the website.
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@jfieds2 I think it was mainly someone trolling us :-). Maybe it's more like pulling our legs. It's hard to think of someone who posts a false claim about a book that does have literary merit on a website dedicated to discussions of literature actually trolling!
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @jfieds2 I'm confused. People were posting on here that they heard an early winner or the ACTUAL Pulitzer website has leaked false information in the past? It's less than two hours away! Next year, I am taking off work early :))
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking @ey814 @jfieds2 Last year someone posted before the real announcement was made that they had heard that The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards had won, and that the information had leaked out. This obviously turned out not to be true.
jherrin Apr 20, 2015

Winner - Lila by Marilynne Robinson (I love her and it and honestly? How can you vote against it)

Finalist - Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash

Finalist - Ruby by Cynthia Bond

(I predicted Bob Shacochis's The Woman Who Lost Her Soul and Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank - so I'm hoping a shot in the dark here)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@jherrin You did well with Shacochis and Englander! What we Talk about When we Talk about Anne Frank got a lot of buzz, so I wasn't surprised by it's finalist status. But, The Woman Who Lost her Soul wasn't really on the radar, so well done! I think Ron Rash is always a strong contender.
jherrin Apr 20, 2015
@ey814 @jherrin My Shacochis prediction was more out of love for that text, it just so happened that one of my favorites was a finalist.

Dark horse: I'm also not counting out The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
jfieds2 Apr 20, 2015
@jherrin @ey814 Unfortunately, Rachman does not have American citizenship, so he is not eligible!
jherrin Apr 20, 2015
@jfieds2 @jherrin @ey814 Damn you got me. Well that book deserves more readers, so I'm giving you homework now ;)
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @jherrin @jfieds2 @ey814 I liked Transatlantic and was surprised it didn't get more love from the various lists/awards. It was on the top 15 list much of the time, but did get bumped to 17th or 18th or something right at the end.
JpCambert Apr 19, 2015
My prediction is as follows:

Winner-An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Finalist-All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Finalist-We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

If I'm hedging my bets (I know..I know...I'm cheating), I would NOT be surprised to see Redeployment (an early award season darling, which has faded of late), The Enchanted, Family Life, or Preparation for the Next Life, in the mix somehow. I have not read Lila, so I can't comment as to its worthiness.
TELyles Apr 19, 2015
All great reads. I recently finished Woman and I was surprised that the structure was so similar to Lila. Different countries, different religious backgrounds, different points of time, but similar narrative "flow" if you will. Did anyone else have the same experience.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@TELyles I've not yet read Lila, but I've read Gilead and Home, and, I do see what you mean. Although, I will say that I enjoyed Woman ALOT more than either of the two Robinson novels I did read. I found it a chore to get through both of the Gilead novels I have read.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert not sure what you have against that novel, but it was absolutely beautiful, especially the last page!
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@Marybethking @EdParks @JpCambert Not sure what you mean by this, given the fact that I stated pretty clearly that I've not yet even read the book. I don't, however, care for either of her two previous Gilead novels. I don't mind books thin on plot, but, these Gilead books, to me, are a chore to get through. I find them remarkably boring, even if clearly well written.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert @Marybethking @EdParks sorry I accidentally tagged you in that. I meant it in reference to EdParks Doerr reference.
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@JpCambert And, I agree 100% with everything said in previous statement. A well written chore that resonates with others more so than myself. Oh well...
Marybethking Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @Marybethking Agree to disagree.
JpCambert Apr 20, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert You are going to be REALLY upset by this year's winner.
bigread Apr 19, 2015
Winner: All The Light We Cannot See

Finalist 1: Euphoria

Finalist 2: On Such A Full Sea
myram319 Apr 19, 2015
My guesses:

Winner: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Finalist: We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Finalist: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Tartofraiz Apr 18, 2015
I'm wondering if the Pulitzer winner

and finalists receive a little phone call before the results are announced, as it is usually the case with most literary awards. Anybody knows ?
ey814 Apr 20, 2015
@Tartofraiz No, there's no notification of the winner in advance of the award. There are some pretty funny stories about how award winners learned of their award. Jennifer Egan was in a restaurant when she got a call from her agent, and was too shook up to actually eat the meal she had ordered. Geraldine Brooks says she was at home with her young son when she started receiving phone calls congratulating her. While she was on the phone, someone came to the door and asked her son if she was available, and he said that no, she was on the phone because she'd won the Pulitzer Surprise :-). I recall that Paul Harding found out through the website, just like all of us did that year. I think many of them know if their book has been submitted for consideration by their publisher, however.
michijake Apr 17, 2015
My guesses for winner and finalists, although I'll probably be very wrong as usual!

Winner: Euphoria by Lily King

Finalist: Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Finalist: The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

I should note that the only one of these I've actually finished is Euphoria, and I do think it's an excellent book. I haven't finished "Neverhome" yet, but I liked what I read and I think it could be the "surprise" pick that usually shows up among the finalists. I can't wait to hear the announcement!
michijake Apr 20, 2015
Can I edit my predictions? I'm cheating, but why not. jherrin (in a post above) reminded me about Ron Rash's book, so I'm going to replace "The Laughing Monsters" with "Something Rich and Strange." Four hours to go!
jfieds2 Apr 16, 2015
I forget if anyone here (@ey814?) has mentioned the Odyssey Bookshop's first editions club, but after seeing past choices, ( I was quite impressed and decided to give it a try. (I only have the time, money and space for one club at a time, so I have switched from Book Passage.) I was even more impressed with the packaging of the books and thrilled to find they already had covers. I've mentioned before that I am bit more of just a reader who likes the physical object than an obsessed collector who needs pristine copies, but the latter is nice, when possible.
cbmsb Apr 17, 2015
@jfieds2 @ey814 I belonged to several SFECs. Even with one or two declines allowed per year, I received books I didn’t want (e.g., U.S. editions of books previously printed in IN, IE, AU, UK, CA…).

Powell’s Indiespensable books cause the most misgivings: dust jackets are sometimes displaced by a case; the signed page is often an add-in page from a special, subsequent run (ergo, not a first printing), which means the author did not hold or sign the actual book. A dust jacket is vital to connoisseurs of first printings, which cannot vary in form. Altered Indiespensables are comparable to those gilt-edged, leather bound Books-of-the-Month: specious.

When I was an Indiespensable member, books were delivered parcel post. My books were manhandled as they roamed the country on freezing/blazing delivery trucks and languished on loading docks and in depots during precipitation, heat, and cold for weeks. Powell’s would not send a replacement until at least six weeks had elapsed. At least once, no replacement was available.
DustySpines Apr 20, 2015
@cbmsb @jfieds2 @ey814 Hmm. When I was Indiespensible member, the packing was pretty good, though my eyebrows were raised when they'd pack a collectable book with a jar of jelly or chili powder or something. I eventually didn't find the cost worth continuing for the value I perceived. But you have influenced me with your point about the actual value of these books since they mostly just add a cheap slipcover. That said, when they open up subscriptions again, given their Pulitzer track record, I will probably join again.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 15, 2015
not relevant to our current discussion, however:
JohnZ Apr 15, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Interesting list. I recently started to read The Narrow Road to the Deep North, the latest winner of the Man Booker Prize. It's damned good. Flanagan is an excellent writer. From what I've heard, it's a grim read. However, that doesn't bother me. What I look for most in a story is a focus on characters and how they respond -- or fail to respond -- to the world of which they are a part. That said, Flanagan's novel is turning out to be one of those perfect novels for me. The prose is wonderful.
Marybethking Apr 15, 2015
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus I started to read 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North.' It was due at the library so I didn't finish it. Going to check it out again for sure!
jjose712 Apr 16, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I loved Americanah. Someone will be published here in less than a month
luxor Apr 15, 2015
JpCambert Apr 14, 2015
Wondering if anyone knows how one can go about hearing the announcement live. Is there any sort of live stream provided?
mrbenchly Apr 14, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert I've heard audio in the past. This year, it appears that they will be broadcast on Youtube (, and link to which was provided on the Pulitzer's Facebook page and on the Pulitzer website (

Media is no longer visible.
ey814 Apr 14, 2015
@mrbenchly @EdParks @JpCambert Very cool! the YouTube site even has a countdown clock! In past years, I've had a difficult time getting the web page to refresh because of the heavy traffic on the site around the time of the announcement, so I'm hoping that the YouTube channel will be more reliable!
JohnZ Apr 14, 2015
@mrbenchly @EdParks @JpCambert The announcement last year was made available via an audio feed, as you have indicated. It does take some time to gain the feed, especially if one refreshes the link. The Pulitzer site also lists the winners, but it takes some time, too. Usually the winners appear within the half-hour following three p.m., but due to traffic, it can take some time for the screen to appear.

Another way -- and often quicker -- is to google the results and find them on the news feed. That's often how I've done it in the past, although sometimes I've managed to get on the Pulitzer site and see the winners there.
AlexKerner Apr 14, 2015
@JohnZ @mrbenchly @EdParks @JpCambert i got the results on twitter last year. Youtube will be best. Clearly the Pulitzer has decided to join the 21st century.
ey814 Apr 13, 2015
Okay, it's time to finalize your predictions for the winner and 2 finalists. I usually equivocate and want to add in an additional prediction or two, but I'm going to be bold this year and go with:

Winner: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Finalist: We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Finalist: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

This is the same preliminary choices I made a few weeks ago, and nothing has convinced me to go otherwise. I actually doubt either the Thomas or Henderson books will, in fact, be finalists, but since those were my favorite two books of the year, I'm going with them (and, to stick with the "be bold" theme, I'm not even gonna rattle off any possible books that I think might be finalists other than these two, though I might claim to have thought when one or another book is announced!).

We'll know in a week!
Tartofraiz Apr 14, 2015
@ey814 This exact final list would be wonderful. Keeping my fingers crossed. (Thomas and Henderson would definitely deserve it - Henderson, in particular, wrote a hell of a book and no literary jury seemed to have noticed it, except for the Oregon Book Awards.)
ey814 Apr 14, 2015
@EdParks I think those are all viable choices. An Unnecessary Woman has certainly received its share of accolades over the year, though I haven't read it yet. Lee is, I think, a perennial Pulitzer possibility.
mrbenchly Apr 14, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 With apologies to the following authors who now join an ever-growing list of authors I have cursed with my predictions, here's what I think will happen:

Finalist: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Finalist: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Winner: Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish
BRAKiasaurus Apr 14, 2015
@mrbenchly @EdParks @ey814

I'm going to stick with my original three (admittedly, I haven't read some of others' favorites that I intend to get to later...but these three are incredibly strong and each is very relevant and, in its own way, an important book) :

Finalist: 10:04

Finalist: Fourth of July Creek

Winner: Preparation for the Next Life
ey814 Apr 15, 2015
@mrebenchly Gads, I hope you're wrong (nothing personal of course, against you or Atticus Lish), but I have been completely unsuccessful trying to find a first edition of Preparation for the Next Life!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 15, 2015
@ey814 Yes, and I hope I'm right, since I picked one up early, haha--but it's a wonderful book...I think it has a good shot.
mrbenchly Apr 15, 2015
@ey814 I lucked out on that front. I searched Abebooks for used copies of the book, found one in Memphis, called up the shop, asked them if the Joy Williams blurb was on it and when that was confirmed, I ordered it. The person I spoke to was dubious and said "have I grossly undervalued this book?" to which I said "only if it wins the Pulitzer."

I got my copy a few days ago and can't wait to read it. Thank you to this forum for the great info!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 17, 2015
@mrbenchly @ey814 Saw Atticus Lish last night and got my first (and second printing) signed. Very interesting dialogue about the book! :D
JohnZ Apr 14, 2015
@ey814 It appears most of my opinions regarding the ostensible winner of the Pulitzers are in concert with others posting here. Given the NBCC award, Ms. Robinson is clearly the favorite. Also, she's a wonderful writer. That said, I wonder if the Pulitzer Board will name her the recipient given that she won -- what was it? -- a decade ago, for Gilead. Who knows? They might. If memory serves, Booth Tarkington won twice within -- what was it? -- three years. And I think it was around a decade that elapsed between John Updike's wins.

Then again, this might be a year in which we're surprised. The Board does like to throw curveballs now and then. As I recall, Paul Harding didn't know he'd won until he went on the site himself and had a look. Imagine how surreal that must have been!

What really interests me, however, is the listing of the finalists. As I understand it, the Jury offers its three selections and lets the Board decide which of the trio should win. Sometimes the Jury stresses a particular favorite among the three finalists, but that doesn't mean the Board follows such advice. If the Board did, then Thomas Berger would have won the Pulitzer for The Feud, just as Norman Rush would have won for Whites. And Thomas Pynchon would also be a Pulitzer Prize-winner. Which is all to say, based on the Jury's selections, any of the three finalists, in their opinion, would be worthy of the prize. Given this, I sometimes read the finalists with the idea that each one of them is a likely winner, and not merely the one that's chosen by the Board. Sometimes I find that I prefer some of the finalists to the actual winner. But that's the way of art: one cannot extricate from the equation what he or she prefers aesthetically.

In addition to the fiction category, I'm always interested in the other categories, as well. I buy all of the Pulitzer winners in said categories, saving up money so that I may do so when the announcement is made. It's become a tradition for me, and one that brings me the excitement one often feels during a holiday. The evening of the day of the announcement means that I'll have some good reading ahead of me. I've read all of the Pulitzer Prize-winners for fiction, and I like to continue to tradition of reading new winners.
Far_Nor_Cal Apr 17, 2015
Those are my exact same 3, also with Lila winning.
ey814 Apr 12, 2015
With Lish winning the PEN/Faulkner award, all of the predictor variables are in, and the list remains the same as it was from the last analysis. Lish's Preparation for the Next Life moved up from 31st to 17th as a result of the PEN/Faulkner win, but not enough to crack the top 15. So, the list is final as is...

I'm 1/3 of the way through Lila. I actually like this better than the prior two Gilead novels... I like the character of Lila a lot more than some of the other characters.
dm23 Apr 11, 2015
This comes with the caveat of not having read Lila, but my favorite this year is Station Eleven. I know it hasn't received much love but my second choice is American Romantic by Ward Just. I generally liked 4th of July Creek but I thought Henderson tried a little too hard and I noticed the author's fingerprints more than I would have liked. I thought We are Not Ourselves was at least 150 pages too long, mostly from about the one-third to halfway point. And, sad to say, I didn't like the main character, which made it a long book at times.

As for 2015, The Sympathizer sounds amazing.
grahammyers Apr 8, 2015
Just wondering, but will "Preparation for the Next Life" make the next prediction list?
ey814 Apr 12, 2015
@grahammyers 17th, so just out of the top 15.
grahammyers Apr 7, 2015
Atticus Lish just won the PEN/Faulkner award.
AlexKerner Apr 7, 2015
@grahammyers ok this book seems to be getting some momentum and rave have ordered it!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 8, 2015
@AlexKerner @grahammyers This is wonderful news!!
RostislavPlamenov Apr 6, 2015
I don't write much here, even though I love American fiction and I've read a lot of the books you're discussing (thanks to Amazon's Kindle books, because I live in Europe and waiting for a physical book to be delivered would really kill my enthusiasm - it takes nearly a month!) and I love reading your comments. I'm writing because I would love to learn something about the books you believe could be contenders in the other letters categories - biography (the Tennessee Williams biography?), history, general non-fiction, poetry. I'd love to gather some recommendations, so that I have enough time to read some of the suggestions before the announcement.

BRAKiasaurus Apr 2, 2015
I think they got too much backlash, and I don't agree about this year's books. I have read at least 3 that are now among my favorites. Not to mention, there are other novels that we have largely overlooked (eg., A Replacement Life) on this forum but which might get some recognition from the jury.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 2, 2015
That said, I do think you may be onto one thing: this year could well surprise us!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus 10:04, Fourth of July Creek, and (while I admittedly haven't yet completed it, if it continues at the same pace and the writing continues to be consistently strong) Preparation for the Next Life.

I actually really liked Love me Back, and I'm surprised it hasn't gotten a little more attention.

I think a lot of the most lauded books (from the year that I have read) have been weak or unworthy of the praise they have received, and I certainly don't believe they stand a strong chance despite being on the prediction list: A Family Life, On Such a Full Sea, Andrew's Brain, Euphoria, Everything I Never Told You, etc.

I haven't yet read Lila, because I'm just waiting for one of a million copies to show up at used bookstores. And though I have a signed copy of both All the Light We Cannot See and The Blazing World, I have held off thus far. Will read both at some point...but those three listed above are strong, strong novels.
ey814 Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I tend to think that the committee got too much grief when they didn't select a winner a few years ago to do it again any time too soon. I hope so, at least.

I remain surprised that Fourth of July Creek and We are Not Ourselves did not get more love from the various lists and award nominations.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 3, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 Nah, I think they, like yourself and me, have to actively keep track of their reading for the year. If you received a galley for July, you probably got it in January or a little after. I forgot I even read some of the books I considered less notable....despite the fact that others have enjoyed them. I mean, I remembered I read them, but I didn't realize I even read them this year. If I were on the Pulitzer committee and was delivered 300 novels in July, I'd probably immediately set aside the books I already read that I loved / hated. And I would begin reading the rest with an eye to other acknowledged books showing up in the media. So if I'm a judge for the pulitzer, I might just kinda REALLY READ the first 50 pages of Preparation for the Next Life, and if I was unsure probably skim it, but if it showed up in the news, I'd probably read it more deeply.

When they decided not to award a book of fiction, the judges--each of whom had worked very hard to read 300+ novels and evaluate them, each of whom seemed to take their job seriously, and who (as a result) were very offended by the decision not to award any novel--I think we got a glimpse into how they operate. They seem to get a big box middle of the year and to just dive in...and clearly they have too many nominees to really evaluate they have to devise a strategy. If I'm a judge, I'm using any piece of media I can to help raise the priority of some manuscripts over others.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 3, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I guess I was trying to articulate a response to the bias question. I don't think it's a matter of bias.

My guess is that those two novels (FoJC and WaNO) came out around the time or just before the judges began their wildly ambitious task of reading 300 submissions. The books that get attention from sept-february (if they came out within the proper time frame) are more likely to get notice by the judges than anything else (which is why "tinkers" is such an outlier, but which is also why "Preparation for the Next Life" might have a better shot--it also explains why the nytimes notable 100 tend to feature the pulitzer winner). Sad to say it, but if I were a judge and had 300 submissions to read, I would try to read all of them but--even if we take it as a given that some books, including the aforementioned novels (family life, andrew's brain, etc.) would very quickly get crossed off my list without a complete read--I would probably be looking for shortcuts to, in a manner of speaking, crowdsource the task.

All of which is to say: I don't think that there is a bias against these people for the other awards, but it may well be a matter of timing for all the awards, however the impact of media is likely different for each.

PS--even farther into Preparation for the Next Life and it is currently my choice as the winner.
ey814 Apr 4, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I should preference my comments with the observation that one's personal likes/preference/biases obviously impact how one interprets outcomes like Fourth of July Creek and We Are Not Ourselves, so there is probably no universally true answer to the question. I liked both books, and agree they should have received more attention, so might lean toward explanations that commercial success might lead jury panels (composed of author for whom success is elusive, more or less first-book success; book reviewers; academics, journalists, etc.) to think that a first book got more than enough attention if it was successful and, thus, turn to other books they deem as not being recognized. Actually, I think a little bit of that explains why the National Book Award is not a super predictor of the Pulitzer (don't get me wrong, it's a good predictor, but not a great predictor)... jurors for later prizes look for something that hasn't been recognized.

Clearly, commercial success itself is not a death knell for a book... Goldfinch was wildly popular, so was Goon Squad, Oscar Wao, etc. But, first books/novels and popularity are a pretty rare combination in Pulitzer winners, from what I can tell. According to Harry Kloman's Pulitzer Prize Thumbnail project (, there are seven first books that have won: Josephine Johnson's Now in November, John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Paul Harding's Tinkers, and Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. From those, I think it's accurate to say that Confederacy of Dunces and Tinkers were not commercial successes before they won the Pulitzer. Interpreter of Maladies was a short story collection, not a novel. Looking at the print runs for Now in November on makes me think it wasn't a huge commercial success before the prize, though it did go into multiple printings of small runs. Advise and Consent was a commercial success, as was To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind. So, three novels in almost 100 years of the Pulitzer (obviously, not every year was an award made) have won that were first novels and commercially successful. Only six first novels in that time have won at all.

Of course, there are the first novels but not first books that win (The Known World and Oscar Wao come to mind, both authors had short story collections published first), but lets stick with first novels that are first books.

So, here's what I believe (see previous disclaimer!) Commercial success is not a death knell, but it can be detrimental. I'd point to Franzen, Irving, maybe Berger as examples of authors whose commercial success impacts their award success. Next, first novels are not a death knell, but due to the rarity of wins by first novels, seems to be detrimental to award success. If you have to be Gone with the Wind or To Kill a Mockingbird to win as a commercially successful first novel, that's a steep slope! I do think that jurors must think about issues of 'time served' to some degree. I believe jurors probably see that a very good first novel got recognized by commercial success and think, at some level, that this was sufficient recognition. Only when the novel rises to an exceptional level does it overcome that bias.

I'm not convinced either Fourth of July or Ourselves rise to that level. That said, I think they should have made at least some award nomination/finalists list. I can see one or both being a Pulitzer finalist.

But, of course, we shall see!
AlexKerner Apr 7, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @EdParks @ey814 funnily enough Emily St. John Mandel is raving about Preparation for the Next Life on twitter this morning
ey814 Apr 1, 2015

Marlon James wins Anisfield Wolf award.
grahammyers Apr 1, 2015
my vote is for Atticus Lish's "Preparation for the Next Life"
BRAKiasaurus Apr 1, 2015
@grahammyers the more i read (i'm about 100 pages in), i'm even more positive that it belongs on my finalist list.
AlexKerner Mar 31, 2015
So Station Eleven just won the Tournament of Books. Anyway of adding this to the statistical model in the future? Any correlation between the winner/finalist of ToB and the Pulitzer? Goldfinch lost in the final last year so maybe there is something there.
AlexKerner Mar 31, 2015
Actually I am going to make this my Pulitzer prediction...Station Eleven will win.
cbmsb Mar 31, 2015
@AlexKerner Yet the Folio Academy, comprised of about 230 members, each with three votes, didn't include Station Eleven in its longlist of the best 80 - EIGHTY! - books of the year.
AlexKerner Apr 2, 2015
@cbmsb @AlexKerner wasn't on the NY Times list either. No consistency.
ey814 Apr 1, 2015
@AlexKerner the Tournament of Books is a fairly recent event, so doesn't go back far enough to include in the prediction list (variables I use go back to1982... since there is only one pulitzer winner per year, you need a lot of years of data to get a viable prediction model).

I looked at the winners of the TOB:

2005: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2006: The Accidental by Ali Smith

2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

2008: The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2009: A Mercy by Toni Morrison

2010: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

2011: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

2012: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

2013: Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

2014: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Pretty impressive... four winners since 2005. It will be limited by the fact that it allows non-US authors (Mitchell, Mantell), but the TOB has been a pretty good indicator so far. Goldfinch lost in the quarterfinals last year, though.

So, probably worth taking into account in one's opinion! We'll see if Station Eleven wins the PEN/Faulkner. That would move it further up on the list as well.
Marybethking Mar 31, 2015
That's my vote as well!!!
ey814 Mar 31, 2015

Marilynne Robinson indicates that she has a fourth Gilead novel in mind!
TELyles Mar 31, 2015
@ey814 Thanks for the article! "Lili" will be a tough act to follow (typo is intentional, bottom of the article)
ey814 Apr 1, 2015
@EdParks while I confess that my favorite Robinson novel is Housekeeping and that I've been impressed with the writing and language in the Gilead books, they're not really my cup of tea, at some level, I would note that, as I know you know of course, Updike had four Rabbit novels and one more Rabbit novella (Rabbit Remembered), and Roth had nine Zuckerman novels and between those there were 3 pulitzer winners. Plus, Faulkner had more than 15 Yoknapatawpha County novels or short story cycles, one of which won the Pulitzer. So, no indication there that one can stay too long at the fair :-)
BRAKiasaurus Apr 1, 2015
@ey814 William Kennedy's Albany trilogy at some point became "The Albany Cycle" and most of his books seem to revolve around the Phellan family....I honestly wouldn't mind if Paul Harding remained with the Crosby family for another 10 novels if the quality of the storytelling and writing are as wonderful as his first two novels. (While I agree somewhat with the criticism that the narrator of "Enon" is far too lucid for the story to be told in first person, it is otherwise a wonderful novel.)
ey814 Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks when it came out that the Last Picture Show tetralogy was to become a pentalogy, I went back and read the series from the beginning. I know people vary in the degree to which they like McMurtry, but I've been a long time fan (even if he is a grumpy signer :-), and was sorry to see Duane go.

Good point about the fact that the Gilead books are parts of the same story from differing perspectives.
JohnZ Apr 4, 2015
@ey814 Regarding Faulkner and the Pulitzer Prizes, two Yoknapatawpha County novels may be counted, albeit loosely. Certainly the The Reivers, but also A Fable. Even though the latter takes place in Europe, there is a scene in the book when a character remembers Yoknapatawpha. It's one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, but I'm pretty sure it's in there. I remember being surprised when I came across it.

Regarding Ms. Robinson's Gilead novels, I venture to say that some might find them a challenge given that they're focused so strongly on the internalizations of the characters. The action exists within rather than without, and largely concerns itself with memory. Not everyone prefers this, which is fine. To each his or her own. For myself, I admire stories that are concerned with exploring the human condition, and one finds this more in stories driven by characters who find themselves struggling with conflict through memory. I believe John Ames and Glory are wonderful examples of such characters in fiction. The same may also be said of Ruth.

I have Lila, but I haven't read it yet. I felt some preparation was necessary. I recently read Home and I am now reading Gilead again (I read it years ago, when it was first published). When I finish it, I will begin Lila.

What I've found revisiting the novels is that Ms. Robinson has created a story that is Rashomon-like in design. There is much beauty in her approach. There is also much depth. For example, in Home, we are privy to the events unfolding in the Boughton household, and revealed to us are some of the opinions and suppositions made by Glory and Jack. Jack and John Ames have, at best, a timorous relationship, and there are moments in the story where Jack feels that Ames has insulted or slighted him. However, in Gilead, we learn that Ames had no such designs. And there is something poignant and heartbreaking in making these realizations, for it reminds us how we sometimes do not communicate as well as we should. From that arise conflicts which, if only we listened to and were more open with one another, needn't have existed.

Too, there are the theological implications to consider in the stories. But even for that, I don't think one has to be of a specific faith (or any faith) to appreciate what Ms. Robinson is doing. After all, the novels are about how we struggle to live good lives and treat others with compassion and respect.
JohnZ Apr 4, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 So wonderful to see the names Gus McCrae and Aurora Greenway. I admire Mr. McMurtry's work very much, too. And while Duane certainly deserves to be mentioned, I have to add another name to the list: Emma Greenway Horton. Aurora is such a force that sometimes people forget just how wonderful and important a character Emma is. There's a plain-spoken wisdom about Emma that I love. While no blushing flower herself, she always seemed to me to be willing to listen to others' opinions instead of just writing them off. So much easier to judge others than to listen to them, you know? And Emma shows how sad it is to take the former, rather than the latter, approach. Of course, she had lots of experience with doing it, considering she grew up with Aurora for a mother (ha ha).
JohnZ Apr 4, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I remember reading that Billy Phelan's Greatest Game was mentioned by the judges of that year for Pulitzer consideration. And the year Ironweed won, it was not the first suggestion made by the judges for the prize. It figured on the list, but the judges believed Thomas Berger's The Feud to be the novel that should have won. Anyway, I think Ironweed is a beautiful novel. I read it as a teenager, and I remember becoming lost in the beauty of its words and story.
JpCambert Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 I know that I'm likely in the minority, given the level of sophistication among the readers of this blog, but, I found Gilead and Home (haven't read Lila yet) to be mind-numbingly boring. I know that "boring" isn't a word that is used on here often, as it's a frowned upon way of critiquing a book, but, my Goodness her books bore me to tears.
TELyles Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks @JpCambert @ey814

Housekeeping remains my favorite of her works and I will probably read another Gilead-based novel; however, sigh, I need another place in time (and perspective) than the ones covered in the first three.
ey814 Mar 28, 2015
PEN/Hemingway award announced:

No impact on prediction list. Must say I haven't heard of any of the books that won/finalists/honorary mention. Any of the well-read folks in this discussion thread read any of these?
ey814 Mar 29, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 I think that's probably right (commercial success of those two).
TELyles Mar 30, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 Astoria Books in NYC recently hosted a signing and reading with Lish. The bookseller could not tell if theirs were firsts but I rolled the dice. The book has popped up sporadically in the past 3-4 months discussion here.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 30, 2015
Not sure , but I believe I have both a 1st and a reissue. The 1st ed has a quote by Joy Williams on the cover; subsequent editions have a NYT quote on the cover.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 31, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I am currently about 80 pages into Atticus Lish's novel. It is pretty impressive--the spare, gritty language (and relevant subject matter) have a weight that feels hard to ignore. It feels like a book that deserves attention, that demands it. It forces the reader to pay close attention. Feels like a book not to be forgotten or overlooked....not sure what this means for it regarding the pulitzer.

I also picked up "Elegy on Kinderklavier". Excited to read it--haven't ever been disappointed by a Pen Hemingway Winner.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 31, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I own a signed copy of Madonnas, and I think I may have even started it / been enjoying it. Not sure why I put it down. I haven't read Ferris' book yet...the subject matter / second person telling of it kind of kept me from picking it up....I (unjustifiably) have trouble believing it is as good as some say it is.

That said:

We Need New Names, yellow Birds, Open City, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (which I would have given the pulitzer to), A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Interpreter of Maldies, Native Speaker, Lost in the City all were fantastic. Those are the winners I have read.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 31, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus Oh yes, almost forgot Housekeeping!
BRAKiasaurus Apr 1, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus Have you read Brief Encounters with Che Guevara?
BRAKiasaurus Apr 1, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus It's pretty different from that novel, as far as I can tell--it's a wonderful set of short I say, I think it should have at least been a Pulitzer finalist.
TELyles Apr 1, 2015
My copy of Preparation arrived today....NYT blurb on the cover. No number line on the copyright page or attestation that it is a first edition

BRAKiasaurus Apr 1, 2015
@TELyles So here's my deal with PFTNL:

I bought a copy in December--I believe it to be a first edition.

As I intended to go to a signing (in a couple weeks), I bought one more copy. The second copy has a NYT blurb.

The first has an endorsement by Joy Williams which says "Powerfully realistic, with a solemn, muscular lyriscim. This is a very, very good book. The back also features a hilarious endorsement by Scott McClanahan:, "Lish has written the most beautiful and relevant book of the year. God damn him." This is not included on the subsequent editions.

I believe the one I purchased in December is a 1st edition, but there is no statement of such things on the copyright page of either copy.
TELyles Apr 2, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Thanks for the information! It sounds like the NYT blurbed covers would have to be considered a second state/printing. This could be a collector's headache if it were to win the Pulitzer. Looks like you are in good shape, however.
TELyles Apr 2, 2015
@EdParks Thanks for the article and the sleuthing. I will now have to poke around for a Joy Wiliams cover.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 3, 2015
@EdParks @TELyles It's a wonderful novel--read it regardless! I bet you have a local store that has a first edition around. If anyone wants me to keep an eye out for such things, I will happily do can just pay me for the copy or something....I'm pretty sure one of my local stores has firsts available (or did before the book started to get noticed by award committees).
TELyles Apr 4, 2015
If you run across a first, I will gladly pay for the book and shipping. In NY this weekend and I haven't run across a first (yet).
TELyles Apr 4, 2015
Found a copy today.
JohnZ Apr 4, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @EdParks Don't deny yourself the pleasure of reading Then We Came to the End. The second-person perspective is not as jarring as one would think. Mr. Ferris bewitches you early in, and then it's off to the races. It is a novel that makes you laugh out loud. It is also, in its way, quite moving.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 4, 2015
@TELyles Nice! I'll keep my eyes peeled regardless--if anyone is looking, let me know.
jfieds2 Apr 2, 2015
@ey814 I read ELEGY ON KINDERKLAVIER and enjoyed it, but I must say the writing was extraordinarily dense. I remember thinking "this is not an award winner, but this is definitely a writer I want to read again." Well, I was wrong on the first part, but the second remains. Sarabande Books is a great small publisher and I am thrilled for them. In fact, I much preferred another collection from them last year, Kyle Minor's PRAYING DRUNK, but it wasn't his first book. He did win the Story Prize "spotlight award."
tklein27 Mar 25, 2015
FYI, I put up first edition information for Lila

Once again I was seeing talk about the first edition being the Canadian edition. This has been a common claim for Robinson's previous books (I'm not sure why). The claim goes that the Canadian edition was on sale earlier, so it must be the true first. I got in touch with the publicity department at Farrar, Straus, Giroux and they confirmed that the U.S. edition is the true first edition. They said that although the Canadian edition may have gone on sale several days earlier, the U.S. edition had already been printed and released before then, though it wasn't yet on sale in the U.S. until October 7th, 2014. They also said that regardless of sales timing, the book was originally licensed and edited in the US, so the HarpersCollins Canadian edition would be an offset.

When you look at the copyright pages of both editions, I think it's obvious that the US edition is the true first.
DustySpines Mar 25, 2015
@tklein27 I wonder where this gets us as far as a general rule of thumb. I'm not as convinced as you are that publisher intentions should trump sales timing, though with Robinson's books you mention, the case seems sound since it says "First Canadian." I would concede this, even though I am the proud owner of one or two of those Canadian firsts of Robinson's Home.

However, it seems to me it is possible some presses, Bloomsbury for instance, will note "First US Edition" when in fact the British version came out a month or two later (I am looking at a copy of Tarashea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos as an example). It also seems worth noting that the market might value Canadian books with their smaller print runs.

Official and actual release dates add another wonderful wrinkle to what is already a rather dubious collective delusion/conceit, that books with a 1 in their number line, etc. are somehow closer to the author.

[While I have your attention, I noticed you haven't yet covered Junot Diaz's latest book over at fedpo, and thought you might be interested to know that first printings seem to have been released in editions with two different colored boards. I have one of each. Weird huh?]
ey814 Mar 28, 2015
@EdParks @DustySpines @tklein27 One of the joys of book collecting is deciding about what you will collect, and what rules you will adopt :-). I'm inclined to lean toward following the flag if what distinguishes the US/Canadian/UK edition is a week or two between releases and they look pretty much identical, though being a completist, I actually want copies of each if the book wins the Pulitzer! Cover all bases, as it were. Sometimes it is clear (Egan Emerald City), other times not. Seems clear to me that the true first edition of The Goldfinch is the Dutch version... not so clear on Gilead or Lila. As @DustySpines mentions, since the Canadian version of Lila states First Canadian, that seals the deal for me.

@DustySpines, there were two states of the first edition of How to Lose Her... the blue cover is the first state, the red covers are second states, but both seem to be first editions, first printings.
grahammyers Mar 23, 2015
Akhil Sharma's 'Family Life' won the Folio Prize.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 23, 2015
@grahammyers Truly do not understand the acclaim that novel has received....
JoeyyB Mar 24, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers You don't have to understand. It was a great novel.
jjose712 Apr 1, 2015
@JoeyyB @BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers I just read the novel and i agree with you. It's a good novel but there's something missing in it. Maybe time makes me change my mind, but i think it lacks the memorable factor.

Sometimes it's difficult to understand why a novel gets so much attention and others are ignored. From this type of novel, short memories i think Justin Torres' We the animals is better (even with all its flaws)
kriscoffield Mar 24, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers What didn't you like about it? Just started reading it.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 24, 2015
@kriscoffield @BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers It's fine...well-written, has lovely moments, but feels like a minor memoir, something I barely remembered a week after I finished it. Just don't really understand--with so many impressive novels out this year--why this one has stood out to so many.
jjose712 Mar 25, 2015
@kriscoffield @BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers I started to read it too. It's one of those rare cases when the translation is fast enough to get publish here in Spain before the end of the awards season (i only remember two other recent examples, The yellow birds and The goldfinch)
ey814 Mar 24, 2015
safina Mar 26, 2015
@grahammyers Yup, it's going to get bought. I'm waiting for the Pulitzer announcement.
kas1985 Mar 28, 2015
Good luck. I haven't been able to find a 1st/1st for awhile. Lots of 1st/2nd and paperbacks when I've scoured bookstores in two rather large cities (Salt Lake City, Cincinnati).
safina Mar 22, 2015
I await the day with eager anticipation.
AlexKerner Mar 22, 2015
@EdParks I'll give you a full response when I am done, but I'll say that I disagree with your take of what men do or do not do, or what people with serious emotional issues are able to do in the public realm. I also think that the lack of use of dates is a consciously used technique and heck Tartt used the same thing in The Goldfinch...the ambiguity of time is a thing I enjoy(ed) about both books.

ok i'll get back to reading and give you more details later.
grahammyers Mar 23, 2015
@AlexKerner @EdParks I am about 80% done with A Little Life, so I want to withhold a complete assessment until I've finished. However, I will say that Yanagihara's characterization and plotting technique is amazing. Rarely, have I read a modern novel that delves so deep into its character's inner lives. For a 720 page book spanning several decades, there is a relative lack of plot detail (as compared with The Goldfinch), but what plot there is, is doled out masterfully by Yanagihara. I am mostly referring to the history of Jude. Most of the novel is concerned with the feelings of its characters.

I have never met or read about a person who has suffered as much as Jude does during this novel. Some of the things that happen to him are unimaginable. Therefore, I do not have qualms about how Yanagihara characterizes him because I can only imagine that anyone who has been through what he has, would be absolutely damaged (I know I would be).

The prose is well-written, but not flowery. Essentially, this novel is concerned with not only the ability of relationships to "rescue" us from ourselves, but the importance of attempting to do so.

I might have more to say after I complete the book though.
Marybethking Mar 28, 2015
I was amazed by 'People in the Trees.' Absolutely blown away by the imagination of the author along with the suspense built up throughout, did he do it? I then had a friend who gave it to a family member avid Penn State fan in the height of all that...oops. I'm excited that this novel put the writer on the map. 2 more holds in front of me at the excited yet kind of want to save it for summer pool reading...
grahammyers Mar 25, 2015
@EdParks have only a few more pages to go, but I have to say that I agree that the novel can be long-winded at times. Yanagihara constantly references Jude's internal struggle towards the end of the book. I think it could have been edited a lot more and still retained it's emotional power.
TELyles Mar 26, 2015
@EdParks Yanagihara is signing at Odyssey Books in Mass. in case anyone wanted to pick up a signed first. They allow phone pre-orders, etc
kriscoffield Mar 21, 2015
Mike - Given all the love for WE ARE NOT OURSELVES, where did it finish in the model? Sorry if this question is redundant. Just curious to know how far outside the top 15 it is.
ey814 Mar 21, 2015
@kriscoffield I'll check when I get back to my computer. I'm pretty sure that the only points it got were from appearing on the NY Times 100 Notable books list, which wouldn't even put it in the top 30. As I mentioned before, it was one of my favorites from the year, so I'm puzzled by how few nominations/best of lists it had.
ey814 Mar 24, 2015
@kriscoffield 38th. Tinkers was, if I recall, 31st, so that puts Thomas a longer shot than was Harding. Tinkers was on the ALA Notable book list, which is actually a decent predictor. The NY Times 100 Notable books was the only showing for We are not ourselves. Still, I liked it a lot..
cbmsb Mar 24, 2015
@ey814 I didn't consider Tinkers a long shot. The writing was exquisite.

ey814, I admire and NEED your work here.

I'd like to know, when convenient, the rankings of the Pulitzer winners and finalists who were not on the prediction lists. Perhaps they could be posted on the page for each year.
ey814 Mar 28, 2015
@cbmsb Tinkers was a long shot only that it didn't surface as a potential winner prior to the announcement, mainly because it was a first novel published by a very, very small press. I agree that the book was well deserving as a winner, I too thought the writing was exceptional.

Good idea about winners and finalists that didn't make the list. I can do that for a few years back. Last year, Goldfinch won and was #1 on the list. The Son by Phillip Meyers was a finalist and tied for 34th on the list. The Woman who Lost her Soul by Bob Shacochis was a finalist and tied for 40th on the list.

In 2013, the winner was The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson and it was #5 on the list. What we Talk about When we Talk about Anne Frank was a finalist and tied for #26 on the list. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was a finalist but not on the list.

I'll look at some of the years preceding these when I have a chance. I would note that there seems to be almost a habit of the Pulitzer Jury to select at least one real outlier as a finalist... seems to happen every year.
ey814 Mar 28, 2015
@cbmsb Okay, going back a little further.

In 2012 there was no winner awarded. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson was a finalist, and was 14th on the list. Swamplandia by Karen Russell was a finalist and was tied for 7th on the list. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace was a finalist and tied for 34th on the list.

In 2011, the winner was The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, which was #1 on the list. The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee was a finalist and #5 on the list. The Privileges by Jonathan Dee was a finalist and tied for 32nd on the list.

In 2010, the winner was Tinkers by Paul Harding, which was tied for 23rd on the list (though I would note that I changed formulas between 2010 and 2011, and there were more ties under this older system). Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet was a finalist and finished tied for 28th on the list. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin was a finalist and finished tied for 16th.

In 2009, the winner was Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which was tied for 7th on the list. Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich was a finalist and was 6th on the list. All Souls by Christine Schutt was a finalist, and tied for 20th.

In 2008, the winner was he Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which was #3 on the list. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson was a finalist and 5th on the list. Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Lore Segal was a finalist and not on the prediction list.

And that's as far back as I can go.
cbmsb Mar 31, 2015
@ey814 Thank you!
Far_Nor_Cal Mar 20, 2015
I have read 9 of the 15 on the predictions list and Lila would be my pick. I just finished Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves and am at a loss to understand why it has not even been long listed for a single prize (as far as I know). It is a powerful novel that could hold its own against any novel on that predictions list. I would love to see it as a finalist for the Pulitzer. If I had the honor of voting right now I'd present the committee with:


We Are Not Ourselves

Fourth of July Creek

This list is subject to change for no reason at all.
TELyles Mar 24, 2015
Solid list!
ey814 Mar 21, 2015
@Far_Nor_Cal My list exactly.
Tartofraiz Mar 20, 2015
My personal pick would be FOURTH OF JULY CREEK, one of the best books I've read last year. With a bit of luck, it could be a surprise finalist (but I wouldn't be too optimistic, considering it's a first novel). When is the Pen/Hemingway announced ?
myram319 Mar 20, 2015
@Tartofraiz April 19th (Pen/Hemingway)
ey814 Mar 21, 2015
@myram319 @Tartofraiz I think the PEN Hemingway ceremony is the 19th, but I think the winner and finalists are announced before that. Last year the winner was announced April 6. But, it could be later this year, certainly.
Marybethking Mar 19, 2015
No offense but there were a ton of grammatical errors in 'We Are Not Ourselves.' So many that I quit reading.
AlexKerner Mar 20, 2015
@Marybethking are those intentional? I don't see how a book put out by a major publisher (S&S) would have missed something like that...I haven't read it yet but planning on audio booking it (after Books on the Nightstand gave the audiobook a glowing review).
Marybethking Mar 22, 2015
I couldn't keep count of how many times I read smarter than him. Taller than her. Shorter than him. Not those specific comparisons, but it is always, always, always, smarter than he is. Taller than she is. Shorter than he is. It was always in the omnipresent voice, so it was missed by multiple editors. It wasn't character voice which I could totally understand.
JpCambert Mar 22, 2015
@Marybethking With all due respect to you Marybethking, I submit the following:
JpCambert Mar 22, 2015
@Marybethking Grammar is far too fluid (in my admittedly humble opinion) for us to be this rigid. And, I feel that we, as readers, would miss out on some marvelous storytelling in the meantime.
Marybethking Mar 22, 2015
It still hurts my eyes. I guess I'm more of a traditionalist on this one.
Marybethking Mar 22, 2015
And my view of a Pulitzer contender is 'formal perfection' in respects to the blog when speaking in the omnipresent voice. Hate to rain on the parade....
JpCambert Mar 22, 2015
@Marybethking To each his own. I felt "We are not Ourselves" was a masterpiece.
JpCambert Mar 20, 2015
@Marybethking I'm not sure what to say about this. I'm normally VERY picky about this sort of thing and didn't notice a single one in this book. I would love a few examples.
JohnZ Mar 20, 2015
@Marybethking I find grammatical errors in most of the books I read. Perhaps it has something to do with the elasticity of grammar rules. Many people, when they write, play around with their interpretation of grammar. Some writers have explained why they do it. Others? Not at all.

For example, Ursula Le Guin has said that when she writes "everyone" or "everybody," she will parallel it not as a singular, but as a plural. "Everyone does what they want" as opposed to "everyone does what he wants." The latter is considered to be grammatically correct. But Ms. Le Guin has said she breaks the rule because she finds it insulting in terms of gender hierarchy. For this reason, when I read a book she has written, I let it slide.

And then there are those writers who end sentences using prepositions. I admit I'm a bit old-school about this rule, though I understand it is now considered by many to be a rule to which they feel they need not adhere. It happens more often than one would expect, and it is done by writers who are among the best we have. Even Marilynne Robinson does it, and she is a writer who has created some of the most beautiful prose I've had the pleasure of reading. Therefore, I think it must be a conscious choice on her part rather than bad writing.

Karen Russell, another writer whose work I have enjoyed, uses split infinitives. Even though it's a pet peeve of mine, again I let it slide, for she is an imaginative writer who spins a good story. Of course, that doesn't stop me from being taken out of a story from time to time (ha ha).

Or what of dangling modifiers? I'm less lenient in this respect, for I can think of no other reason a writer would do such a thing other than laziness. And there are dangling modifiers to be found in nearly every book one reads. Another writer whose work I admire is Anne Tyler, and yet I find dangling modifiers in her books. Usually I just frown and press on reading. Why? I know Ms. Tyler is a good writer, so I cut her a bit of slack.

Last year's Pulitzer-winner, The Goldfinch, is thick with grammatical errors. While I was reading the novel, there were a number of times during which I read parenthetical sentences that had a beginning but no end. That was frustrating. I had to read the paragraph again to make sure I hadn't missed something. And yet I enjoyed the story so much that I kept reading. I think it could be that the manuscript wasn't proofread as well as it should have been before it went to press.

And then there's Cormac McCarthy, who has no problem writing fragmentary sentences. He also eschews the semicolon. I understand this is a personal choice on his part, and so again I cut the writer some slack.

That said, I will often correct the sentence in my mind and continue reading, especially when a story is written by someone who I know is a capable, intelligent writer. I tell myself that not one of us is perfect, and in so doing, ease up on my judgment.
Marybethking Mar 22, 2015
There is no elasticity when it comes to the omnipresent voice. If you're not a master of the English language when using that voice, then for all of our sakes don't use it! It has nothing to do with style or gender neutrality and everything to do with a lack of mastery that should be present when reviewing a Pulitzer contender. Hate to rain on the parade.
cbmsb Mar 24, 2015
@Marybethking I fervently agree, Marybeth, but we're a minority (especially without our Lord Safire).

If verbiage reflects a character voice, then vernacular is delightful and enlightening (e.g., "Kieron Smith, boy"), but if author can't use correct omniscient grammar, then I think author is poorly-educated, linguistically dysfunctional, or worse, so he shouldn't be a writer, which isn't an insult b/c my brain is spatially stunted, so I couldn't become an engineer, despite my desire. Everyone's brain has deficiencies.

Rampant colloquialisms such as "of what", "is how", "to where" are the sign posts of poorly formed sentences and ambiguity (mush). Instead, use a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb instead of those empty idioms that require several unnecessary words.

NOT: The students have not conformed TO WHAT is expected of them.

BUT: The students have not conformed to expectations. NOT:My father's will is a token OF HOW much he loved me. ("of how much" is ambiguous. Is the will munificent? miserly? punitive?)

BUT: My father lovingly bequeathed his estate to me.OR: My father provided a nominal inheritance.
kriscoffield Mar 19, 2015
To answer my own question: my semifinal picks, based on feel, are Robinson's LILA, Lee's ON SUCH A FULL SEA, and Offill's DEPT. OF SPECULATION. I, too, predict LILA will win. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the works we've mentioned missing the cut, like WE ARE NOT OURSELVES, make the Pulitzer shortlist. We've frequently seen works shortlisted that didn't make our longlist.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 16, 2015
My picks (in no particular order) are:

Fourth of July Creek


and, based on only reading a bit of it (and because i like to mix things up and have an underdog), Preparation for the Next Life

The more likely three are:


All the Light We Cannot See

We Are Not Ourselves (or The Blazing World)
AlexKerner Mar 16, 2015
i feel so indifferent to this years crop of contenders. I guess of the ones on this list, Station Eleven is my favourite. I haven't read Lila (summer project will be reading the trilogy) and while I liked both Euphoria and All the Light We Cannot See, neither wowed me. I'd agree that Fourth of July Creek was one of my favourites from 2014.

I can tell that 2015 will be a better year...I am only 150 pages into A Little Life and am more enthused by it than anything from last year.
Marybethking Mar 15, 2015
My winner has to be 'The Enchanted.' I haven't read Lila yet. I need to! My nominees are 'All the Light We Cannot See' and 'Everything I Never Told You.'
myram319 Mar 16, 2015
@Marybethking I've only read two of the books and am also hoping "The Enchanted" is the winner with "All the Light We Cannot See" as a finalist. I just now finished reading and loved "Gilead". I'll be reading "Home" before I read "Lila".
kriscoffield Mar 14, 2015
Now that the second list is up, what are everyone's three "semifinal" picks (winner and two finalists)? You can always revise your selections, since the final list is forthcoming.
ey814 Mar 14, 2015
@kriscoffield I gotta say, Lila is my pick for the winner. Robinson is so well-respected in the literary community, and the book has garnered all of the accolades/awards/nominations that books like Junot Diaz's Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao and Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad attained before winning the Pulitzer, plus, I just don't see any other book that has had the momentum and consistent recognition that Lila has had. Euphoria and Full Sea are where they are because they were NBCC finalists and being an NBCC finalist is the strongest predictor of the Pulitzer, far and away. Euphoria had the added points from being a NYTime 10-best book pick, which boosted it above Full Sea. I haven't read Euphoria, but I did read On Such and Full Sea, and just didn't think it lived up to Lee's previous book, The Surrendered, and don't think it (Full Sea) feels at all like a Pulitzer book. I could definitely see All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine being finalists. Both books have received consistently positive reviews, showed upon on best of lists, been nominated for awards, etc. Of the books I've read so far (I haven't read Lila, I'm finishing Jane Smiley's new book and hope to read Lila over the next week as I have a long plane ride), I still liked Matthew Thomas' We are Not Ourselves and Smith Henderson's Fourth of July Creek best, but neither have shown up in any of the awards, and they're both first novels, so I don't expect them to be selected.
AlexKerner Mar 13, 2015

Pulitzer Prize will be announced April 20.
ey814 Mar 12, 2015
Okay, with Robinson's NBCC win for Lila, the top 5 for the final list are sealed. I've sent the second list to Tom to post, but here it is:

1.Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2.Euphoria by Lily King

3.On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

4.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

5.An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

6.Redeployment by Phil Klay

7.Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

8.Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

9.Family Life by Sharma Akhil

10.Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow

11.Orfeo by Richard Powers

12.Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash

13.The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

14.The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

15.The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

All we're missing now is the PEN/Faulkner winner and the PEN/Hemingway winner. If Mandel or Offill win the PEN/Faulkner, they'll move up, but not into the top 6. If Klay wins the PEN/Hemingway (first book award), he won't even pass An Unnecessary Woman.

So, the watch is on. Will Marilynne Robinson be the fourth two-time Pulitzer (fiction) winner (and the first woman to do so)? I wouldn't bet against her.
kriscoffield Mar 14, 2015
@ey814 Always take the field, Mike. ;) I've read two of the top 8 and own all of the top 9, so I'm in good reading shape over the next few weeks.
ey814 Mar 14, 2015
@kriscoffield I've been behind on my reading for this year... so I've only read 3 of the top 9. But, I hope to get through a couple more before April 20. I'm in better shape, collection-wise, as I have first editions of all of the top 11.
AlexKerner Mar 12, 2015
so Lila wins NBCC!!! Will be the big favourite now for the PP.
grahammyers Mar 12, 2015
@AlexKerner still haven't read it. i'll definitely have to get to it before mid-April.
ddo Mar 12, 2015
I checked my shelves and I have the first edition of Lila whiich I purchased based on comments here. I hve yet to read it tho. Wondering if the prediction model can forecast the #1 pick two years in a row. Following the Goldfinch's status as #1 predictor last year seems like a high bar. Would love to be wrong, however
ey814 Mar 14, 2015
@ddo Robinson's Lila reminds me of Jennifer Egan's Goon Squad in terms of how it has performed during the major award season... To some degree, Lila had to overcome more to make it to the top of the list, as there are several variables associated with being a past Pulitzer winner, being nominated for (but not winning) the pulitzer before (Robinson was a finalist for her first book, Housekeeping) that actually count against (negative points) a book/author in the prediction model because they are such rare occurrences. Winning a prior Pulitzer, for example, has only since 1982 (which is as far back as I have data for the analysis) when Updike won his second. So, Lila is, to some degree, swimming upstream and has to not only outperform the competition this year, but also make up for starting in the red!
kriscoffield Mar 11, 2015
Random question for Mr. Mike: what's pushing ORFEO, ANDREW'S BRAIN, and AMERICAN INNOVATIONS into the top 15? Trying to read as much of our list as possible before the announcement, but need to triage. Are the first two based primarily on Powers's and Doctorow's prior award history?
BRAKiasaurus Mar 12, 2015
@kriscoffield Yeah, was wondering the same--at least about doctorow. While I found it fun and engaging, there is no way that Andrew's Brain is going to win the Pulitzer...
ey814 Mar 12, 2015
@kriscoffield Hey Kris, see my longer reply to your earlier question about Andrew's Brain about the utility or validity of using an author's past book awards/nominations as predictor variables, but I wouldn't bother with Andrew's Brain, it's where it is solely based upon Doctorow's past nominations/awards. Orfeo is a mix... it was nominated for the NBA (I've begun giving all of the books on the longlist credit for being a finalist) plus Powers has a past NBA award and several nominations. American Innovations has dropped off the current list, it was there only because of a few nominations she'd had for her first book. Although I list 15, there's a big drop off in total points after #8 (Mandel), and I'd concentrate on those top 8.
grahammyers Mar 11, 2015
I thought I would share this excellent piece from The New Yorker website. It is adapted from Andrew Solomon's speech at the Whiting Writers' Awards last week. He offers advice to young writers and the most effective articulation I've found for why writing and reading is so necessary.
grahammyers Mar 10, 2015
PEN/Faulkner finalists announced today:

Emily St. John Mandel, "Station Eleven"

Jeffery Renard Allen, "Song of the Shank"

Jennifer Clement, "Prayers for the Stolen"

Atticus Lish, "Preparation for the Next Life"

Jenny Offill, "Dept. of Speculation"
AlexKerner Mar 10, 2015
@grahammyers Station Eleven and Dept. of Speculation definitely have momentum. St. John Mandel also has been long listed for the Bailey. I know that the Pulitzer doesn't necessarily embrace dystopian novels, but the growing importance of the genre combined with particular literary quality of Mandel's book may make it a potential first here.
ey814 Mar 10, 2015
@AlexKerner @grahammyers The Clement and Lish books make their appearance on any list for the first time this year, so even if they win the PEN/Faulkner, it won't get them anywhere near the top. Jeffery Allen's Song of the Shank was a NY Times 100 best book, but again, even if it wins, the PEN/Faulkner is just not that strong of a predictor for the Pulitzer. I think (not 100% certain) that the only PEN/Faulkner winners that went on to win the Pulitzer were Ford's Independence Day and Cunningham's The Hours.

Anyone read these?

All we have left for the analysis is the NBCC winner, the Pen/Faulkner winner and the PEN/Hemingway winner. I'll probably go ahead and run another analysis to update the list this week. But, just eyeballing it, Offill and Mandel stay in the top 10, though neither in the top 5 and Offill, because of the LA Times fiction nomination, jumps just above Mandel.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 10, 2015
@ey814 @AlexKerner @grahammyers I will be surprised if any of these novels wind up on the Pulitzer list--despite their quality. That said, I have a first edition of Atticus Lish's book and the first couple of pages are very strong. I am really happy to see it getting some recognition beyond the NY Times, and while it would be a dark horse candidate, it is promising for many of the reasons we've talked about in the past (regarding other novels):

New York novel, about two very important American topics (veteren and immigrant), a love story, gritty, well-written, etc. Again, dark horse, but for some reason (since I haven't yet read it) I'm rooting for it.

Little Life also comes out today--can't wait to pick it up! Lotta buzz over that novel.

(Also, reading Johnson's "Braggville" and it took a little while to get into the cadence of the writing, but it has my full attention now--it's incredibly fast-moving, ambitious, and captivating. Keep an eye on that one.)
kriscoffield Mar 11, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 @AlexKerner @grahammyers I've just begun reading Lish's PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT LIFE. It is a dark hose, as Brak stated, but beautiful and topical, dealing with immigration, post-9/11 security imaginaries, and how the two impact interpersonal relations. It's a love story to boot. Published in November, it received a lot of late-year positive press. Though late-year candidates aren't favorites, this one may have some traction.

I haven't read STATION ELEVEN yet, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Pulitzer go to a dystopian novel. It has before: THE ROAD (2007). If the literary merit is there, why not?

DEPT. OF SPECULATION is my favorite novel of the year thus far, for reasons I articulated below. It's definitely on MY shortlist.

Finally, while the PEN/Faulkner isn't a top Pulitzer winner predictor, several PEN winners have been nominated over the years, Ha Jin's WAITING (2000) and BILLY BATHGATE (1990). It's certainly worth noting.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 12, 2015
@ey814 @AlexKerner @grahammyers

I think this is the overlap through the years:

Waiting - won PF, finalist for Pul

Operation Shylock - won PF, finalist for Pul

Independence Day - won PF, won Pul

Confederacy of Dunces - finalist for PF, won Pul

Housekeeping - finalist for PF, finalist for the Pul

A Flag for Sunrise - finalist for PF, finalist for Pul

Dinner at Homesick Restaurant - finalist for PF, finalist for Pul

Ironweed - finalist for PF, winner of Pul Lonesome Dove - finalist for PF, winner of Pul

That Night - finalist for PF, finalist for Pul

Billy Bathgate - won PF, finalist or Pul

MaoII - won PF, finalist for Pul

A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain - finalist for PF, won the Pul

Cloudsplitter - finalist for PF, finalist for Pul

The Hours - won PF, won Pul

War Trash - won PF, finalist for Pul

Gilead - finalist for PF, won Pul

A Visit From the Goon Squad - finalist for PF, won Pul

Worth paying attention to, I'd think. The other overlap is this: a lot of people who are finalists / winners show up as future Pulitzer writers (or, in other capacities: Sabrina Murray who won for The Caprices was, I believe, one of last year's judges).
ey814 Mar 12, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 @AlexKerner @grahammyers Good points all, and that's why winning the PEN/Faulkner, being nominated for the PEN/Faulkner, being nominated more than one time for the PEN/Faulkner and winning the PEN/Faulkner in the last 5 years are all variables in the model. Just look at the quality of the authors in the overlap list from @BRAKiasaurus. (Winning the PEN/Faulkner more than once is also a predictor variable, though I'm not sure anyone other than Ha Jin has.). Not as strong as being nominated for or winning the NBCC or, even, being nominated for the NBA, but still adds points into the total!
ey814 Mar 5, 2015

Elizabeth McCracken wins the Story Prize for this year for Thunderstruck and Other Stories, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 5, 2015
@ey814 And since we're on the subject:
jfieds2 Mar 6, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 PRAYING DRUNK was excellent and innovative. It doesn't belong on our radar for the Pulitzer, but I am so glad that Kyle was nominated. I met him at Brooklyn Book Fest and he is a very nice guy. If his style stays the same am not sure if he is destined to join the Pulitzer ranks -- it might be a little too out there -- but I personally will read what he writes next. I also love small press books getting some attention. Sarabande does great books that probably would not be done by big houses. It was also nice to see two Coffee House Press books on the LA Times awards lists.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 6, 2015
@jfieds2 @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I really enjoyed Byzantium, last year's Spotlight winner. So this seems to be a good category for promising new writers (even if they are not pulitzer-ish writers).
BNS Mar 5, 2015
I'm curious if anyone knows where Hanya Yanagihara might be touring. I want a signed copy, but I haven't been able to spot any future events. A Little Life seems to be getting major buzz.
AlexKerner Mar 13, 2015
@BNS I just started reading the book and even after the first chapter it feels that it is going to be very special
grahammyers Mar 13, 2015
@BNS i'm reading it as well. Haven't been able to find any events associated with the book either though. I'll be looking, as I'm headed to NYC the beginning of April. Will report back if I find anything.
BNS Mar 16, 2015
Three Lives in NYC has signed copies. Very kind and helpful booksellers, too.
grahammyers Mar 4, 2015
The L.A. Times Book Prize finalists were announced today:

Another mention for Jenny Offill's 'Dept. of Speculation'.
ey814 Mar 5, 2015
@grahammyers Cool. This might move Offill's Dept. of Speculation into the top 10. The only award information we're waiting for now is the NBCC winner (March 12, I think) and the PEN/Hemingway winner for debut fiction (not sure when, sometime before the Pulitzer Prize is announced. But, basically, whomever wins the NBCC will jump to the top of the list (between Robinson for Lila, Lily King for Euphoria, Chang-Rae Lee for On Such a Full Sea, and Rabih Alameddine for An Unnecessary Woman.
ey814 Mar 5, 2015
@grahammyers Oops, forgot we're also still waiting on the PEN/Faulkner finalists and winner. So, maybe not sewn up yet for the books I mentioned, though they're in strong positions.
grahammyers Mar 2, 2015
For purposes of 2016 Pulitzer, hearing a lot of great things about A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 2, 2015
@grahammyers Same. Gonna buy it in a week. If I had to give a relatively unjustified (and barely-educated guess), I'd say that "Welcome to Braggsville", "A Little Life" and "City on Fire" are the top three contenders for 2016 so far.
grahammyers Mar 2, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus agreed. i need to read 'braggsville". some others to keep an eye on are paul beatty's 'the sellout' and Franzen's 'Purity"
jfieds2 Mar 4, 2015
Unjustified opinion as well, I can't imagine a 900pp novel rising to the top. What do we have to go on besides an outsized advance? Publishers have thrown large advances at literary flops often. I am highly skeptical. I also personally just don't like long epic books. I loved both TINKERS and KAVILIER AND CLAY, but give me a book like TINKERS any day. On that line of thought, I'm 2/3 FAMILY LIFE and love it's quietness. So much emotion without being manipulative. So much tension without much description.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 4, 2015
@jfieds2 We're on opposite sides here, but only for this year.

I'll give you a couple thoughts on City On Fire: 1. the outsized advance may absolutely be an indication of an emperor without clothes, however the consistently--universally, it seemed, but perhaps also hyperbolically--positive reviews suggest it as a contender; 2. with that advance, the publisher is very likely to do a big marketing push, so it will be on the minds of those who judge such things, 3. his writing is really very good, so if his story rises to the same level, I'd be surprsied if Hallberg's novel isn't indeed wonderful. 4. Long novels can often be too long, feel messy, in desperate need of editing--so that could be the downfall.

As for "A Little Life", I am simply hearing good things from the people who have been fortunate enough to get an advanced copy.

Both novels are set in New York and sound grand in scope; while the former has received nothing more than a preemptive fiscal plaudit, the latter is a second novel from an author whose debut was very well-received.

I just think they both have promise and probably belong on our "things to watch" list for 2016.

The reason I say we're on opposite sides (and then suggested it may simply be temporary) is that I have gone from someone who, two years ago, preferred incredibly short novels that tackle big topics to someone who prefers long, complex novels. I'm not sure why this is, honestly, but I know that it started when I read "The Son" and hasn't let up since. It may also be that I am still riding on the winds of 2013/14, during which I read "Goldfinch" (uneven but hard to put down), "The Son" (amazing), "All That Is" (perfect), "Constellation of Vital Phenomena" (astonishingly good debut), "& Sons" (messy, uneven, hard to putdown, incredibly well-written), among others.

That said, I am a huge fan of "Tinkers", "Enon", "Train Dreams", and other works that do so much with so little. Those three novels are among my favorites and will remain there.

Personally, when I think of unjustified fanfare, I can't help but look at Sharma's "Family Life". The prose and story, while fine, are nothing special. I found the book sadly forgettable. I loved "All That Is" for the same reasons that you seem to be enjoying "Family Life", but I didn't find any overlap in my reading experience. I honestly don't understand the intense praise it has received and will be disappointed if it wins the Pulitzer.
jfieds2 Mar 6, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Very well argued opinion, Brak. Gives me a lot to reflect on. I hope I can get into some longer novels, although I will probably have to pick up my reading speed. I often hate the idea of reading one book when I could have read 2 in the same time (or in the case of CITY ON FIRE **three!**) I can read faster, but when I do, I miss a lot and enjoy less.

I am intrigued by the idea of Hallberg and Yanagihara but also realized another personal reason why I'm not necessarily excited: the setting! I live in NYC. I love NYC, despite all its drawbacks, I don't want to live elsewhere. I am also sick of reading about NYC!
BRAKiasaurus Mar 7, 2015
@jfieds2 @BRAKiasaurus Haha, I have lived in New York but now reside on the opposite coast. For me, these novels keep me in touch with a city I love. I understand however that it is often the setting for literature, and I also understand how that could be tiresome.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 26, 2015
When are the Pen Faulkner finalists announced? I tend to really love their selections (sometimes more than the pulitzer finalists)...
estreetgirl Mar 1, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus May 2. :)
ey814 Mar 5, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus Mid March...
safina Feb 23, 2015
I love this site.

I have read every single Pultizer fiction prize winner since prize inception (and even those from when the category was named something else).

I am no longer permitted to buy all of the above. I have to wait until the winner is announced (and it is hoped it will be). There's no space at home anymore for more books.
kriscoffield Feb 22, 2015
Last week, I finished reading DEPT. OF SPECULATION by Jenny Offill. It's an offill book. HA! Ahem.

Honestly, it's one of the better 2014 books I've read. I'm a fan of minimalism and poiesis (ποιέω), and Offill's work heavily emphasizes the latter. It's a decades-long relationship drama, as many of you know, but also explores, narratologically, the way language cultivates identity, particularly in times of tribulation. Offill's diction becomes more frenetic as the novel's narrator moves through the three Buddhist states of consciousness involving misery mentioned at the beginning of the book, paralleling her existential struggle to extrapolate meaning from her failing marriage. As the narrator's mental state becomes more jumbled, Offill's language becomes more fragmented and suggestive–no small feat for a work that insinuates events, rather than dictates them.

The narrator's daughter, too, is wryly rendered as both an object of affection and abjection, on whom is displaced the obliqueness of love. If the narrator and her husband problematize the space between loving the idea of a person and the person themselves, then the daughter acts as a discursive caesura that brings reality and imagination into alignment. As the marriage disintegrates after the husband's betrayal, the daughter remains, affirming the heroism of saving oneself, each day, from the temptation to self-destruct. Our monsters are never put away, but only momentarily kept at bay.

It's beautifully written. I would certainly consider it a Pulitzer contender, if only for the quality of the prose. Where, to me, Phil Klay's REDEPLOYMENT captured the ineffability of American soldiers' war trauma at multiple distances from Iraq, Offill speaks to the imposition of modern American life on crumbling dreams of intimacy. Each reflects on sacred and scarred inner space, precisely delineating desperations that escape easy integration into the lives toward which we're supposed to strive.
Marybethking Feb 21, 2015
It's getting closer! Does anyone know if there is a Vegas spread on this? I love that the Internet can connect people like this. Had anyone read 'Everything I Never Told You?' Great American immigrant experience. I need to read 'Lila' apparently!
ey814 Feb 21, 2015
@Marybethking I've never been able to find a Vegas spread or, if I recall, even a spread from Ladbrokes and similar bookies in England, who annually put out odds for the Nobel. If someone runs across something, post it!
kriscoffield Feb 22, 2015
@ey814 @Marybethking I'll bet you $500 that I won't correctly guess all three finalists. Here's the line: Kris, +/-3 correct guesses. I'm taking the under.
tklein27 Feb 17, 2015
Hi all. I developed the site about 9 years ago as a way for me to keep track of what each Pulitzer first edition looked like when I was out at various book stores in the New York City area. I am a programmer and IT professional, so I also made the site my learning project so that I could get hands on experience with web technology. Mike came along a couple of years later with an idea to predict the Pulitzers. I thought it was a great idea and we have been posting the list every year since. The one thing I think neither of us expected was the awesome user community that has found its way to the site over the years.

I keep the site up and running because I enjoy collecting Pulitzers, and its been a wonderful way to connect with others like me. I always thought that one day we should hold some sort of Pulitzer collecting event where we can all meet face-to-face, discuss the books, and perhaps trade some of our duplicates.

Anyway, I am so glad you enjoy the website. #NAME? #NAME? #NAME?
jfieds2 Mar 4, 2015
@tklein27 Thanks for your good work, Tom. I think at least 4-5 of us are in NYC -- if you're still here -- it would be fun to meet up. Admittedly, I am more a reader than a collector. I don't have the space or sometimes ability to treat my books with the respect they deserve, but I do love the idea of owning first. More than anything, I like having read the eventual winner before the announcement. If that happens, all else is gravy.

Additionally, we need a 2016 board!
BRAKiasaurus Feb 16, 2015
@EdParks It is not I. Since finding this site, I have lived in New York and San Francisco, where I currently work as an Art / Animation Director. I personally am just a voracious reader with the intention to publish at some point. But I also love this site and appreciate the effort that accompanies its curation and maintenance.
kriscoffield Feb 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I'll be visiting SFO in early March. Best bookstores to patronize?
BRAKiasaurus Feb 20, 2015
@kriscoffield @BRAKiasaurus City Lights is a classic bookstore, but Green Apple is a must-visit. The latter is a wonderful used bookstore. Booksmith has a lot of events, so you may want to check their website to see if anything is happening when you are here (or, if you don't care about events but still want signed books, you can check for events that happened prior to your arrival).

If you make it out to Berkeley, check Moe's Books. It's a lovely used bookstore with a great selection. =) Hope this helps!
kriscoffield Feb 21, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I'll do my best! I'm staying for a week near Union Square. City Lights is one of my quasi-hangouts when I visit. Though the fiction selection isn't huge, the store caters to my radical political leanings. Love the poetry room.
ey814 Feb 16, 2015
@EdParks I will let Tom introduce himself :-) Being an avid Pulitzer collector, I came upon this site early in its development, and posed a question through the 'contact us' link, and in that exchange of emails, proposed using the analyses I was doing (just as a lark) to generate a prediction list. It's been a great means to get like minded readers/collectors together, and I'm very grateful to Tom for the time and effort to keep this site active and to knowledgeable participants on this list. I know from the discussions over the years that a number of active participants work in publishing (as I think you mention you do), so that's always interesting. I am a professor of special education (Mike), and have always been a collector, but focused on collecting Pulitzer winners for the past decade, and this site has been a great resource. When Tom introduces himself, I hope he talks about his Pulitzer collection, it's quite impressive. I'm missing a lot of the high points like To Kill a Mockingbird and many of the early books, but I haven't abandoned the possibility of having a complete run before I can no longer collect! Tom and I have emailed several times about having a face-to-face get together sometime, maybe we get together some year at a big book festival or at the actual Pulitzer announcement!
kriscoffield Feb 20, 2015
@ey814 I, too, appreciate your statistical work. We've discussed this before, but can you elaborate on the extent to which prior esteem impacts a work's ranking? For example, ANDREW'S BRAIN by Doctorow wasn't (to my knowledge) hailed as one of 2014's literary masterpieces. Yet, it cracks our top ten. How do you mitigate award history bias," so to speak?
ey814 Feb 21, 2015
@kriscoffield @ey814 Hi Kris! The prediction list is generated by conducting a discriminant function analysis into which I throw any possible predictor for which I have data from 1982 onward. Those predictor variables include how well the book itself has performed over the year (e.g., 'best of the year' lists, other award nominations, other award wins) and the number of awards/nominations the author has previously won/been nominated for. The DFA process will, essentially, throw anything out that does not, in some way, contribute to the prediction model, so the seemingly disproportionate weighting for author past performance as shown with Doctorow's books (and Joyce Carol Oates, principally) is in fact reflecting the role that past nominations play in predicting previous wins. It's pretty clear that Andrew's Brain is not going to win the Pulitzer, but that doesn't negate the fact that the set of author performance factors that came into play to place Doctorow up high on the list are, in fact, pretty good predictors of winning. Now, that said, bear in mind as well that a number of 'past author performance' factors are actually negative predictors of winning the Pulitzer, and thus, basically, count against the book/author. There are 35 predictor variables that contributed to the model this year. The first 8 are variables that relate to the book (being an NBCC finalist is the highest charting variable, followed by winning the NBCC, followed by making the ALA best books list. Frankly, if you sweep those three, nothing else matters, they're that strong. The first author performance variable comes in at 9th place and is whether the author has won a PEN/Faulkner award in the past 5 years, followed closely by whether the author has won an NBCC award winner within the last five years.

So, the statistical process will elevate some books to higher rankings based upon legitimate predictors related to past performance. But, of course, SPSS (the statistical package I use) hasn't read the book :-).
safina Feb 23, 2015
@ey814 @kriscoffield Hahaha SPSS hasn't read the book. HAHAHA. I laughed actually.
kriscoffield Feb 24, 2015
@ey814 Thank you for the thorough explanation. I understood all of it, much to my own surprise. I think, in some ways, this brings up further questions about the "award history bias" I mentioned–to what extent are jurors impacted by prior work? Have any awards been received as a "lifetime achievement award," so to speak? If I'm a juror reading, say, a Toni Morrison novel, how does the impact of BELOVED on my formative reading skills (or literary taste) color my view of Morrison's recent work? I've been thinking about this a lot since the award went blank in 2012 (something I'm still trying to grasp). Seems, to me, like the prize has shifted toward heralded, but unawarded authors in recent years (in the general sense, not just regarding the Pulitzer), a trend that probably can't be fully encapsulated by our models. As you note, though, certain factors are so disproportionately comorbid with prize nominations as to nullify the significance of any trend. On a tangentially related note, where was SOME LUCK on this year's list? How far down?
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
Hi All,

Thanks for your patience with getting a prediction list up. Between the house move I made late summer, lots of international travel for work, and glitches with my statistical software package, I've not been able to (1) post as much here as I like and (2) run the predication analysis. But, I was able to do so this weekend, so here's the first prediction list:

1.Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2.Euphoria by Lily King

3.On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

4.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

5.An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

6.Redeployment by Phil Klay

7.Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

8.Family Life by Sharma Akhil

9.Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow

10.Orfeo by Richard Powers

11.Dept. of Specultation by Jenny Offill

12.Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash

13.The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

14.The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

15.American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

I don't think there's anything terribly new to folks on this list. I would note that The only way I can tell that Emily St. John Mandel is eligible is because she was nominated for the NBA, which requires U.S. Citizenship. She's from Canada, but must have U.S. Citizenship somehow. There are a few predictors still to be announced (NBCC winner, PEN Faulkner finalists and winner, LA Times finalists, PEN Hemingway winner) but whomever wins the NBCC will be hard to catch.

I'll try to post another list when a few of the remaining data pieces are in, and a final one when they're all in.

Of the books on this list, the one I'm having the hardest time finding a first edition of is Euphoria by Lily King. I can't find one anywhere, so if anyone knows a bookstore that has first editions, that would be much appreciated!
safina Feb 23, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 I really liked ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. But then I didn't want to showcase that to anyone. I don't know if I'd want it to win...
AlexKerner Feb 15, 2015
@ey814 thanks for getting this done. hopefully things will get less crazy of you moving forward :)
BRAKiasaurus Feb 15, 2015
@AlexKerner @ey814 Thanks for the list! I had a copy of Euphoria that I gave up to a used bookstore. It's a solid book (and well-written) but not one I felt I needed to own. Could be a finalist--would be really surprised by a win.
ey814 Feb 16, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus on a purely selfish level, I hope it doesn't win... I have been completely unsuccessful in finding a first edition! Maybe if it wins, though, some overpriced copies will appear!
BRAKiasaurus Feb 17, 2015
@ey814 If it starts to look like a winner, don't buy an over-priced copy. Let me see if I can procure one from the quiet bookshelves in Berkeley==I'd gladly send it your way. =)
BRAKiasaurus Feb 17, 2015
@ey814 This is actually why I mentioned exchanging galleys, ARCs, etc., earlier--I'd be happy to help find books for people, exchange them, if anyone is interested.
kriscoffield Feb 22, 2015
@ey814 Where is Lorrie Moore's BARK on the list? Just curious.
BRAKiasaurus Mar 5, 2015
@EdParks @kriscoffield @ey814 Finally showed up as a finalist for The Story Prize, but seems to be largely overlooked.
JohnZ Feb 12, 2015
Sorry I haven't posted for a while. I've been busy with life, writing projects, and (of course!) reading. With the Pulitzers just a couple of months away, I've been doing my best to keep up to date on possible choices for the prize. Naturally, this site is the best for one to do that. I've been hearing wonderful things about Marlon James's "A Brief History of Seven Killings." Somewhere on this board, however, I read that Mr. James is out of the running, as he is not an American citizen. However, I have learned that he lives in Minneapolis. Doesn't this mean that his novel is, in fact, eligible? I read the first chapter of his novel, and I was quickly fascinated. So much so that I'm going to order the book. If anything, it will be nice to own all of the NBCC's finalists. I have Mr. James's novel to buy yet, as well as Ms. King's.

I've been a bit behind in my reading lately. Well, that is to say, my reading of possible Pulitzer nominees. I went through a Sarah Waters phase recently, and her work filled a lot of my reading time. If anyone is looking for a good winter book, I recommend "The Little Stranger." Henry James and Mr. Poe himself would have enjoyed it, I think. Imagine if Merchant-Ivory had made a psychological thriller/ghost story -- that's kind of how I imagined "The Little Stranger." I believe it was a Man Booker finalist in its year. Definitely worth reading.

Right now, I'm juggling a number of books. Among them are Smith Henderson's "Fourth of July Creek" (good) and Matthew Thomas's "We Are Not Ourselves" (very good). I bought Mr. Henderson's novel based on the comments made by some of you who are a part of this forum. I'm enjoying it very much, but I wonder if it's Pulitzer material? I haven't finished it yet, so I have drawn no final conclusion. Mr. Thomas's book, however, seems like a novel that might well be considered for the prize. I am finding it enjoyable and very well-written. I saw it in the bookstore, read the first thirty pages without a break, and decided I should buy it. It reminds me a little of Alice McDermott's work, though not in a derivative way. Mr. Thomas clearly possesses a strong, singular voice.

Another book (or rather, collection) I've enjoyed is Phil Klay's "Redeployment." I've read some reviews on this site in which people were confused by the acronyms. While they're challenging, I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's good when writing takes you out of your comfort zone and reveals to you a world with which you might not be familiar. And Mr. Klay is a very talented writer. He doesn't make it easy for you, and I admire that. There is much complexity and ambiguity to be found in his stories; one finds him- or herself stopping and trying to consider what a hellish nightmare war is. After recently reading another book that dealt with the Iraq War, it was nice to encounter Mr. Klay's collection, as he acknowledged the gray areas which exist in any conflict and allowed his characters to be complex and introspective -- things that didn't happen in regard to the other Iraq War book I read recently, which, more than anything, was the shallow, cliched ramblings of a disturbingly psychopathic egoist.

Still on the docket are "An Unnecessary Woman," "Lila," and "All the Light We Cannot See." Unless (ha ha) anyone here thinks there are more books I should add to my reading list.

Like many others devoted to this site, I'm waiting for a preliminary list of possibilities. I'm not complaining; doing such a list has to be challenging as well as time-consuming. I'm grateful we have people who are willing (and smart enough) to do it.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 13, 2015
@JohnZ Not sure about James, but his current residence doesn't necessarily mean he's a citizen. However, if he is a citizen, his novel would in fact be eligible.

As to any other novels: I really loved "10:04" by Ben Lerner. I could see it being a finalist (although it would be a different pick than the typical Pulitzer novel).

I gulped up FoJC, and I could easily see it being a finalist for the Pulitzer. Tonally and subject-wise, it would definitely be a different pick, but I really found this novel enthralling.
JohnZ Feb 14, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @JohnZ I'm enjoying "Fourth of July Creek," but as for winning the Pulitzer, I'm not so sure. A finalist? Yes; perhaps. The judges often throw in what is ostensibly a dark horse -- something from leftfield. I enjoy learning about (and reading) the finalists almost as much as the actual winners. There are even finalists I have read that have given me pause and made me wonder if perhaps they might well should have won. Sometimes I even think they should have won (e.g., "The Bright Forever" over "March").

To be sure, the writing in "Fourth of July Creek" is vibrant. There are different authors of whom I find myself thinking as I read. Raymond Carver is there. Donald Ray Pollock, too. And Daniel Woodrell. So, Mr. Henderson is certainly in good company. His work isn't so much derivative as those of whom I just wrote as much as his story occurs in places similar -- geographically, thematically, sociopolitically -- to those explored by said authors.

The Ben Lerner novel is on my radar. I believe Ben is the brother of Annie Baker, who won the Pulitzer in Drama last year for "The Flick." They interviewed each other for The Paris Review (I think it was). Or maybe it was Tinhouse. It was a fun, edifying read.

I'm interested to know if Mr. James has American citizenship. In a review of his novel, Louise Erdrich spoke highly of it. Usually I find her choices regarding good books to be impeccable. Of course, she's also a great writer in her own right; it stands to reason she knows great writing when she sees it.

What I've found, though (as have many others), is that the NBCC is often a good indicator of what book or collection will win the Pulitzer. True, this doesn't always happen; however, it seems to happen more often than not. Either the Pulitzer-winner will have won the NBCC or will have been nominated for it. Of the NBCC finalists this year, it feels to me like Mr. James's novel (if eligible) is quite in the running. Unless, of course, the Pulitzer judges and board throw us a curveball, as has been known to happen. There were many people last year who were rather thrown by the selection of "The Goldfinch." Myself included. But as I read it, and reached the final pages, I found it to be a choice that was not negligible. Certainly it could have benefited from some editing (and corrections in typesetting), but the core story, I thought, was pretty powerful. Having lost a parent when I was a child, I connected with much of what Ms. Tartt conveyed in the novel. More often than not, she was spot-on.

I'm wondering, though, if this year is going to be an out-of-leftfield choice for the Pulitzer Prize. Will it be a first-time novelist? It's happened in the past. Will it be something less mainstream given last year's choice? Will it be a year in which a writer who has been passed over in the past will win for a novel that, while not bad, is not as good as some of his or her other work (e.g., Cormac McCarthy)?

Sorry if I seem a little obsessive about this (ha ha). But I've found Pulitzer-winners in Fiction often to be wonderful books (though not always), and as I've read every winner in the category of fiction, I find myself feeling anxious when April is peering around the corner. I guess I just want my literary Pulitzer fix (ha ha).
BRAKiasaurus Feb 14, 2015
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus I think we shouldn't overlook "Preparation for the Next Life" when talking about dark horse candidates. It is a small-press with the son of a big name attached. It is set in New York, features immigrants and a war vet. It's language is precise, and though I have only read a few pages of it, it seems to be well-written.

Additionally, it received all of its out-of-left-field praise (in the NY times and elsewhere) in November and on to the end of the year. Not that this means anything, per se, but it may well be on the minds of the judges as they go through their reading list--and it might also have elevated it out of the pile.

I think right now we have about 5-7 very likely contenders (All the Light We Cannot See, Redployment, 10:04, Fourth of July Creek, Lila, [if eligible] A Brief History of Seven Killings, Bark, and even, perhaps, Something Rich and Strange, to name a few), so I'm not certain it will be a dark horse this year.

But if anyone has read that novel, I'd be very curious to hear some thoughts on it.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 14, 2015
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus [Oh, and I must again insist, just for consistency's sake and to stick up for "March"--and with an acknowledgment that we have had this argument before and so it's not really worth rehashing right now--that although a fun read, I don't think Lee Martin's novel "A Bright Forever" should have even been among the finalists that year. That said, seemed a fairly weak selection that year overall...]

Haha, couldn't resist. :D
BRAKiasaurus Feb 15, 2015
Ed, I was simply giving JohnZ a hard time. To me, none of that year's books stood out as particularly memorable or worthy. I'm quite confident that there were better books written that year. But I know that we have often disagreed about this book.

That said, I find that we agree on a lot of fiction--so this seems to be an outlier.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 15, 2015
Despite how I felt about his nomination, I will say that "a bright forever" stuck with me. I have another of Martin's novels. Not sure which off the top of my head--do you recommend any others?
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus So nice to hear about outstanding authors being receptive to collectors. I find that too often, that is not the case (though I have had some very positive interactions with authors over the years, so I'm not trying to use too broad of a brush). I already have most of Lee Martin's books, most of them signed, because he's someone I think worth watching, but your comments will make me seek him out next time he's somewhere nearby reading.
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus The other thing I wonder is if this will be the year that we get a fourth "two-times Pulitzer winner"; Marilynne Robinson, obviously. I think this is entirely possible, though I haven't read Lila yet (behind on my reading as well as posting here!).
JohnZ Feb 15, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I had rather a strange experience with "The Bright Forever." I hadn't heard of it until it appeared on the Pulitzer finalists list.

As I always do, I purchased all three novels. "March" was not my favorite. Though well-written, I didn't find it intriguing. Rather, it struck me more as a literary game or conceit. Nothing about it surprised me. Even those characters Ms. Brooks created for her novel (i.e., those not presented in Ms. Alcott's "Little Women") offered me nothing in the way of excitement. I knew where they'd end up in the novel, and sure enough, that's what happened. It was like reading something that had been written in a paint-by-numbers manner.

The Bright Forever, however, was a galvanizing experience. I saw it as a riff on "Our Town," as well as employing a structure William Faulkner used in "As I Lay Dying." Taking a chorus of characters from a town and offering their observations regarding the story's central conflict was, to me, quite brilliant, as the novel becomes a contemplation of both individual and communal culpability. Of the characters, Clare and Gilley really struck a chord with me. I grew to love them both.

Now for the strange part of the experience. At the time, I didn't know who Lee Martin was. I was waiting tables in a restaurant, and I had the pleasure of serving a couple who were having a rather energetic debate about literature and drama. The bone of contention between them had to do with Edward Albee's play "Seascape" and where in his oeuvre it had been written. Before "Virginia Woolf?" or after? Before "A Delicate Balance" or after? Ha ha. Anyway, I listened to them bantering good-naturedly back and forth, and finally I said, "Pardon me, but Mr. Albee wrote 'Seascape' after both 'Virginia Woolf' and 'A Delicate Balance.' 'Virginia Woolf' was a Pulitzer nominee, but the judges rejected it. 'Delicate Balance' was Mr. Albee's first Pulitzer, 'Seascape' his second. 'Seascape' was written in the mid-seventies. He won a third Pulitzer, too, for 'Three Tall Women.'" The couple looked at me and broke into bright smiles. They started asking me about myself. I told them I was a writer, which meant that I was also an avid reader (still am on both counts). Before they left, they asked me if I would make a list of books for them to read during the coming summer, which I did. One of the novels I wrote down on that list was "The Bright Forever." I told them a little about the book, and they kept looking at each other and winking. "Have you already read it?" I asked them. They said they hadn't, but they were planning to do so. Then the shoe fell, as it were. Apparently, they were both professors at OSU. Unbeknownst to me, Lee Martin was a colleague and friend of theirs. They then told me, "You have to meet Lee. You two would get along so well." Initially, I was stunned. I mean, to meet a writer whom I admire so much? It was a little daunting. But meet Lee I have, and he and I are now friends. He really is one of the kindest people I've had the pleasure of knowing. And a damned good writer.

Which is all to say, my choice of "The Bright Forever" as being the novel that should have won the Pulitzer has nothing to do with the writer being a friend of mine. Our friendship occurred after the novel came onto my radar and I devoured it. My reason for choosing "The Bright Forever" has to do with the fact that it's so well-written and -realized. The town of Tower Hill created by Lee is as vivid and resonant as the Maycomb Harper Lee created in "To Kill a Mockingbird." That doesn't happen as often as we readers would like. On top of that, "The Bright Forever" is both impressively literate and suspenseful. That's something else that doesn't happen as often as we readers would like. Even more, the novel asks some pretty heavy questions about the human condition. So much so that all of these years later I still find myself thinking about it. And that, to me, is what a great novel is -- one that stays with a reader long after the final page has been turned.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 16, 2015
@JohnZ @EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I have to say: you've convinced me to give it another go. =D I'll read it again sometime this year!
BRAKiasaurus Feb 17, 2015
@EdParks @ey814 I haven't found this to be a particularly weak year, myself--in any case, have you read Ben Lerner's novel?

Has anyone here read Atticus Lish's debut? I have it on my shelf, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.
jfieds2 Mar 4, 2015
I saw Atticus Lish read at a packed jammed reading series in Brooklyn in January. It caught my attention. I didn't flag it as contender, but I'll take another look.
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@JohnZ I was disappointed that neither Fourth of July Creek nor We are Not Ourselves cracked many of the lists or awards that serve as predictors on this list, and since they're both debut novels, the respective authors don't have any prior accomplishments to accumulate points (which is why, for example, E.L. Doctorow ends up on the above (finally posted!) list, even though Andrew's Brain didn't get any real recognition.

Marlon James does live in Minneapolis, but he is Jamaican by citizenship and the Pulitzer explicitly says that the winner must be a U.S. Citizen. So, Seven Killings is not eligible.

Sarah Waters' 2014 book, The Paying Guests, was a NY Times 100 Best book, and although you didn't suggest her as a potential Pulitzer winner, she's Welsh, so not eligible.
JohnZ Feb 15, 2015
@ey814 @JohnZ Thank you for the list! I look forward to it just about as much as I do the actual list of Pulitzer winners. Thanks for the information regarding Marlon James's citizenship. I did find a blog post he wrote in which he said he is not an American citizen. Regardless, I still purchased "A Brief History of Seven Killings." I like to have all of the NBCC finalists so that I may read them. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of "Seven Killings." Louise Erdrich wrote such a powerful review of the novel that I'm almost champing at the bit to start it (ha ha). Until it arrives, I'm reading "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" by Anne Tyler. Strangely, though I love her novels (I have yet to read one that isn't good), I had never read "Homesick," which I learned is her favorite of her novels. It was a Pulitzer finalist ("The Color Purple" won that year), and I have to say, the deeper I get into it, I'm thinking that there should have been a Pulitzer tie that year. It's happened before (Poetry category), and "Homesick" is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite novels. Unless there's some major fumble (I doubt it will happen; we are talking about Anne Tyler here, after all), I think this will be a novel I'll start telling all of my friends and family to read. It's been such a rich, insightful, rewarding experience.

As for Sarah Waters, I know she's Welsh and thus ineligible for a Pulitzer. But I find her writing to be really wonderful; it's like stepping vividly into another world. I thought if perhaps others on this site were unfamiliar with her work, they would like to be made aware. Goodness knows I've benefited from suggestions posted by others on this site. I'm of the belief that when you happen upon something good, it's best to share it with others.

Thanks for the preliminary list! I'm sure I speak for others as well as myself when I say I'm grateful you take the trouble and time to present the results of your analyses.
ey814 Feb 16, 2015
@JohnZ Thanks, my time is well compensated by having the chance to interact with folks on this list like yourself! And, count me among the people who are building my Marlon James collection... I hold out hope he'll get US citizenship sometime! I've seen him at a book signing, and he's a really nice person, engaging to talk to, etc.
grahammyers Feb 9, 2015
The Folio Prize shortlist was announced today. The Americans on the list are:

10:04 by Ben Lerner

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
BRAKiasaurus Feb 10, 2015
@grahammyers Why is "Family Life" getting so much kudos? I really don't's fine, it's well-written, but it's unremarkable.
ey814 Feb 8, 2015
Hi all, scheduled to get the software upgrade I need to run the analyses for the prediction list early this week. Will try to have something to Tom (and post here) by no later than next weekend!
des60 Feb 6, 2015
I read somewhere that "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell is not eligible for the Pulitzer - is that true?
AlexKerner Feb 17, 2015
@des60 Mitchell is British so no he would not be eligible. I personally found it overrated and a bit of a disappointment compared to Cloud Atlas
BRAKiasaurus Feb 4, 2015
I am appalled by this cover, but the first lines of writing are promising (quality-wise).
BRAKiasaurus Feb 10, 2015
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I often like Chip Kidd's books, but I'm more concerned about the actual aesthetic of this cover. It's haphazard and not well-executed. (I'm an Art Director in another field, so I feel at least partially qualified to critique this work.) Hopefully it is a temporary cover....
grahammyers Feb 11, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus i'd be interested to know which book covers you think are particularly well done and what criteria you use. Is cover art meant to convey something about the theme or plot of the book or is it just supposed to "look good?" some iconic covers i enjoy to name a couple are 'Freedom' by Franzen and 'Infinite Jest' by DFW
BRAKiasaurus Feb 11, 2015
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus Haha, I've responded twice to this, and it doesn't seem to show up. I'll try again later...maybe my response will show up in a bit...
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus I don't think they (your prior responses) did show up, and like @grahammyers, I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

I would note that I've had to abandon responding on this page via Internet Explorer and use Google Chrome, otherwise things don't show up... so if you're using IE, you might try it on Chrome or Firefox.
jfieds2 Mar 4, 2015
Given publishing schedules...fall catalogs are being the desires of marketing to have people remember a cover they've seen once later, I highly doubt it's temporary.
JpCambert Feb 3, 2015
Like AlexKerner, I'm wondering if we are any closer to a preliminary prediction list.
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@JpCambert Posted!
Pianoman2015 Feb 3, 2015
For 2015 - Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.

On the Saturday before Christmas, 2014, I completed my reading of all books that had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I was desperate for a book that would match the "Pulitzers" in quality. "Z" did the job. Even if it doesn't win, I encourage everyone to read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
kriscoffield Feb 2, 2015
Alright, I'm back. Been a while. Nice to see some familiar faces. Or screen names. Or whatever.

Just finishing Phil Klay's REDEPLOYMENT. I've seen some cutting comments on Klay's collection, mostly about the technical jargon and authorial cynicism. Personally, I think his work hits the mark.

While the jarhead jargon is jarring (oh yeah, I went there), its narrative difficulty parallels the civilian struggle to understand a soldier's experience. I, like many of this thread's participants, had to Google the acronyms. Rather than become annoyed at the task, however, I found myself thinking that the articulation of war trauma requires a different language, one that private citizens don't possess.

Maybe it's a literary gimmick, but I think that's the point Klay makes–for the troops, war is a horror that escapes articulation. You have to be there to "get it." Civilians, like me, can only imagine externally, failing to possess a vocabulary with which to assist in building war subjectivities. Perhaps the best that noncombatants can do is make an effort to empathize, which we, as readers, attempt by unpacking Klay's militaristic diction.

To me, the stories were extremely compelling, albeit troubling. They echoed the entropy of war, whereby artificially imposed order is constantly declining into chaos, hikes in order prompting greater unpredictability. How do we speak to that, much less speak about that? In my view, Klay's work is an artful start.
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@kriscoffield Hey Kris, nice to have you back! Anything else you've read this year strike you as worth noting?
michijake Feb 1, 2015
The ALA's Notable Books list is out. Am I remembering correctly that this is a top predictor for the Pulitzer? The Americans on the list are:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer

“The Crane Wife” by Patrick Ness

“The Enchanted: A Novel” by Rene Denfield

“On Such a Full Sea” by Chang-Rae Lee

“Orfeo: A Novel” by Richard Powers

“Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories” by Ron Rash

“Station Eleven: A Novel” by Emily St. John Mandel
kriscoffield Feb 2, 2015
@michijake Yes, the ALA list is an excellent predictor.
BRAKiasaurus Feb 3, 2015
@kriscoffield @michijake Almost sad that my favorite novels (that I've read so far--still have some catching up to do) from the year aren't on here...oh well...

meanwhile, I know Marybethking was big on "the enchanted", so kudos to her. :) As far as I can tell, the most likely from this list is probably Doer's novel or Rash's short stories.
kriscoffield Feb 5, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @michijake Doer's novel doesn't deal with prototypically "American" subject matter, that whole "about the American experience" thing. I know THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON won, but I feel like it's an anomaly. I don't think Doer's novel will make my shortlist, beautiful writing though it may be.
Marybethking Feb 7, 2015
No kudos needed! I just love to share anything I find that is of that high of quality award winner or not.
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@michijake Yes, as @kriscoffield noted, the ALA is an excellent predictor. This year it was third on the list of predictor variables in terms of strength, preceded only by being an NBCC finalist and being the NBCC winner. It is on the strength of their presence on the ALA list that The Crane Wife, The Enchanted, and Something Rich and Strange show up on the prediction list at this point.

I am always waiting for Ron Rash to 'break out,' as it were. He's well regarded, but always sort of at the end of the list.
grahammyers Feb 1, 2015
When are the Pulitzers announced anyway?
BRAKiasaurus Feb 4, 2015
@grahammyers Usually mid-april (often between the 12th-17th), always a Monday (if I recall correctly).
AlexKerner Jan 30, 2015
any progress on getting the first list together?
ey814 Feb 15, 2015
@AlexKerner Posted!
OneMoreBook Jan 23, 2015
I just finished Akhil Sharma's "Family Life." Overall, an interesting and pretty novel, except it didn't have an ending. I felt the book just came to a screeching halt. Boom. Over. Then, I read in the acknowledgements that Sharma submitted the book about nine years late. Perhaps he received a call saying the book was due "tomorrow." :-) Nevertheless, I personally feel the book doesn't have legs to win the Pulitzer.

I'm still leaning toward "Fourth Of July Creek" overall.
BRAKiasaurus Jan 23, 2015
@OneMoreBook I am shocked at the praise this novel has received. I feel I probably would have enjoyed the 7000 page version (that he wrote initially) better than the book he put out....
BRAKiasaurus Jan 20, 2015

“An Unnecessary Woman,” by Rabih Alameddine (Grove).

“A Brief History of Seven Killings,” by Marlon James (Riverhead).

“Euphoria,” by Lily King (Grove).

“On Such a Full Sea,” by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead).

“Lila,” by Marilynne Robinson (FSG).
AlexKerner Jan 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus i got three right!! My prediction is that James wins this. That book is a masterpiece.
grahammyers Jan 23, 2015
@AlexKerner @BRAKiasaurus working on that book now. working the operative term. took awhile to get used to the patois, but i think i'm comprehending it more. seems like Delillo's 'Libra' was a big influence for James.
AlexKerner Jan 20, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus and for the other four, who are eligible for the Pulitzer unlike James, they become favourites I guess.
TELyles Jan 20, 2015
Alex - nice work!

Does the NBCC nom place Euphoria at, or near the top, of the prediction model? Aside from a few brief chapters in Euphoria, is Lila the only one set in the US?
BRAKiasaurus Jan 20, 2015
@EdParks @TELyles Having read Euphoria, I can say that it is well-written and deserving of the attention. However, it is not the strongest novel I have read this year. My guess is that Marlon James or Marilynne Robinson will indeed take this one.

As to the Pulitzer, my fingers are still crossed for "Fourth of July Creek" or--going on the recommendations of people here whose opinions I have come to respect--"We Are Not Ourselves". I also really loved "10:04" would be an odd choice for the pulitzer, but I could definitely see it being a finalist.
WillShadbolt Jan 19, 2015
NBCC finalists


Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press)

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead Books)

Lily King, Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead Books)

Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
BRAKiasaurus Feb 11, 2015
@WillShadbolt Forgot Chang-rae Lee published this past year--feels like a long time ago.
AlexKerner Jan 19, 2015
ok any predictions for the NBCC?

My five would be:

A Brief History of Seven Killings


All The Light We Cannot See

The Paying Guests

TELyles Jan 19, 2015
Nice call on A Brief Killing....

I'll add


All the light/4th of July creek

(small press, obscure book)

(foreign author)

On a side note, I am at the halfway mark in We Are Not Ourselves. Good book, hope it finishes strong
TELyles Jan 19, 2015
Sorry, A Brief History (not A Brief Killing)
michijake Jan 19, 2015
Good list! I'll be interested to see if "Some Luck" gets nominated since the NBCC has been fond of Jane Smiley's work in the past.
jfieds2 Jan 14, 2015
Mike, except for TINKERS, did any other recent winners **not** appear on the NYT notable list? Putting aside other factors, is the list, in and of itself, essentially a "long long" list of condenders?
jjose712 Jan 18, 2015
@jfieds2 The orphan master's son was not in the NYT notable books list.

By the way, greetings from Spain to everyone. I really like this webpage but i can't add anything to the conversation (first because my english is really poor and second because most of the books are published here two years after because the translation, with some exceptions like The Goldfinch which was published before winning the Pulitzer last year).

I suppose the list of this year candidates will be published soon. That list is useful to me to find new interesting books (even when not all end being published here)
ey814 Jan 24, 2015
@jfieds2 Jonathan, alas the statistical package I use needs a new authorization code, and I've been traveling and not able to update it. I'll try to get that done this week, then I can look at the database and answer your question (as well as generate an initial list).
BRAKiasaurus Jan 12, 2015
grahammyers Jan 6, 2015
The Morning News Tournament of Books (an unofficial barometer of Pulitzer-worthy titles) has released their 2015 shortlist. Some Pulitzer favorites on the list include: Redeployment by Phil Klay and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. However, some novels I think that are under the radar are also among the finalists including Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill.

Here is the full list:
BRAKiasaurus Jan 6, 2015
@grahammyers While it is beautifully written (but not on my particular shortlist), I don't think we should write off Dept. of Speculation. I feel fairly confident that it won't take home the prize, but it could well be among the finalists. It's a beautiful little novel.
AlexKerner Jan 5, 2015
I am 1/3 the way through Fourth of July Creek and I have to say it is the strongest of the books I have read that could potentially be a Pulitzer contender. Obviously that this is Henderson's first novel hurts his chances but in terms of checking off the Pulitzer boxes (strong American themes) this definitely has something going for it. It didn't make too many top ten lists though, so it remains a long shot but worth keeping an eye on.

when do the NBCC nominations come out?
BRAKiasaurus Jan 9, 2015
@AlexKerner Good question--additionally, when do the Pen Faulkner Nominations come out? Is it usually around now? Or is it February?
AlexKerner Jan 9, 2015
@BRAKiasaurus @AlexKerner I think the NBCC should come out next week or the following one. Nothing on their website yet.
TELyles Jan 15, 2015
TELyles Jan 15, 2015
NBCC finalists are going to be announced on Jan 2
grahammyers Jan 5, 2015
The Millions released their 2015 book preview today. There are some potential 2016 Pulitzer contenders, some of which have already been brought up on this forum.
BRAKiasaurus Jan 4, 2015
Does anyone want to trade ARC's? I occasionally get early copies of things from Goodreads and would happily trade them for others. Not sure if this is the proper forum for it, but just thought I'd toss it out there.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 31, 2014
Are we ready for 2016 speculation yet? Be curious to hear what books people are excited about. Sounds like "A Little Life", "City on Fire", "Black River", and "Welcome to Braggsville" are all possibilities.
sefmhd Dec 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus nice
ey814 Dec 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus we're always ready for speculations! In celebration of the new year, here are some of the books out in 2015 I'll be watching: Purity by Jonathan Franzen is out in September 2015. Edith Pearlman has a new collection of short stories (Honeydew) coming out in a few days (January, 2015), Alexander Hemon has a new novel out in May 2015 titled The Making of Zombie Wars: A Roller-Coaster Ride of Violence and Sex. That should get the 'title of the year' award! Toni Morrison (who I think could always win a second Pulitzer) has a novel, God Help the Chilod, out in April, and Chris Adrian (a New Yorker 20 under 30 pick a few years ago) has a novel out in May titled The New World. Kent Haruf's final novel is out in June (Our Souls at Night). The Pulitzer does allow posthumous nominations.
ey814 Dec 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Look what came into my inbox as soon as I posted the prior message:

Kate Atkinson has a book out in May, Ben Learner's 10:04, which I think someone else mentioned. I also meant to point out, but forgot to, that Jane Smiley's second book in the trilogy, Early Warning, comes out in May.
ey814 Dec 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Well, and here's another list from the Chicago Tribune:

A new Jonathan Lethem short story collection is the only noteworthy book on this list not mentioned elsewhere from what I can tell.
BRAKiasaurus Jan 1, 2015
I alas know nothing of Joe Coomer's work and so cannot help with this inquiry; however, I appreciate the recommendation and will pick up his books! I was wondering why everyone is abuzz about Black River--it is a book I have heard little about and about which few reviews have (thus far) been written. Could anyone elaborate?

Happy new year! Thanks to the forum moderators for keeping the doors open on this lovely place :)
tylerg98 Dec 27, 2014
A possible 2016 contender will be Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. I'm almost finished reading the galley and it is astoundingly good. Her first novel People in the Trees made it pretty far in the Tournament of Books earlier this year. It's being released in March, and is a little over 700 pages--I think it might be a good match for City on Fire!
BRAKiasaurus Dec 30, 2014
@tylerg98 Already on my radar--glad to hear from someone who liked it =D
OneMoreBook Dec 26, 2014
I just finished Phil Klay's "Redeployment."

Whew! I needed a glossary.

There were so many acronyms and initials, I got lost in many of the stories, but I labored on, pretending to understand what Klay was writing. Overall, it was a pretty good book of short stories, but I don't know if it's Pulitzer-worthy. (There could certainly be about a dozen movies in there, nonetheless, unless North Korea intervenes.) The National Book Award winner in 1986, "Paco's Story," about Vietnam, tugged many more of my heartstrings, in one fell swoop.

Anywho ... off to read "Family Life."

Read on ...
ey814 Dec 28, 2014
@OneMoreBook I agree... I just finished Redeployment as well, and the acronyms were a bit off-putting. A powerful set of stories, though the first couple seemed overly brutal, not for a book of stories on a brutal war, but as a way to start off a collection.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 24, 2014
We haven't really mentioned it--and it would be a dark horse--but the novel "Preparation for the Next Life" was brought to my attention when I read Dwight Garner's year end best-of list. He wrote a very favorable review, and it actually got some recent positive press which I missed. I picked it up, and I intend to read it: New York novel about a vet and an immigrant...seems promising for a variety of reasons...

kas1985 Jan 8, 2015
I decided to pick up this book because of some of the traction it has received recently and the subject matter intrigued me. I knew this book had gone into a second printing a few months back per the author's Facebook page. I decided to order a copy from B&N (no bookseller in my town is carrying this,) and take my chances with a first printing. I got my copy today and there seems to be no indicator as to which printing this is: first, second, or subsequent printing. Anyone have any insight on this? Thanks!
BRAKiasaurus Dec 22, 2014
City of Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg appears, according to Amazon (which is sometimes, but rarely, inaccurate), to have a release date:

City on Fire: A novel ~ Garth Risk Hallberg (author) More about this product List Price: Price: You Save:
BRAKiasaurus Dec 22, 2014
*on fire
jfieds2 Dec 22, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus The only way that Amazon would have a release date is if they got the metadata directly from the publisher. Further, times that a posted date turns out to be inaccurate are, for the most part, a publisher error in terms of not pushing out new data after a delay. This is all to say that I don't doubt that the book is coming. The date might shift by a few days (maybe a month), but it should be out in 2015, unless there are some serious delays in editing. With a 900 page book this is more possible than a shorter book, but given it's been so long in coming and is quite anticipated, I kind of doubt that Knopf would announce a date unless they were damn near certain.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 22, 2014
Can't wait!
grahammyers Dec 23, 2014
@EdParks i asked for this story collection for Christmas. hope i get it!
ey814 Dec 28, 2014
@EdParks Ron Rash is an author I follow and try to keep up with, collection-wise, because I think he is an author that could win the Pulitzer. As you note, it's been a while since Cheever's collected stories won the Pulitzer, and I don't really see it in the cards that a collection of previously published stories has much of a chance in this day and age, but who knows!
OneMoreBook Dec 16, 2014
Thanks to all for the recommendations, and for posting the "best" links.

I just finished "Fourth Of July Creek" by Smith Henderson. Absolutely loved it. In fact, I couldn't hardly put it down. Henderson drew me into the book with the opening sentence, and I loved the characters, story, and structure. I'm working on a couple of other contenders now, but they'll have to be more than marvelous to make me feel less like "Fourth" won't get the Pulitzer. Amazing work of art.

(Incidentally, I finally got around to reading "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak, and have to say it's one of the best, most inventive novels I've ever read. I worked my way slowly through the last chapters, not wanting the book to end. I'm surprised it didn't get more accolades when it came out. A young-adult book at first, I believe.)

All the best for the Holidays to all. Read on. Post on.
ey814 Dec 28, 2014
@OneMoreBook I'll have to say that Fourth of July Creek stays at the top of my list of books I've read that I think could/should win the Pulitzer. We'll see... but for now, it remains my favorite book of 2014, followed by Matthew Thomas' We are Not Ourselves.
ey814 Dec 31, 2014
@EdParks @ey814 @OneMoreBook I also think the fact that they're both debut novels will work against them... not only first novels, but first books. There is the odd time when a first book/first novel has won the Pultizer, but it's rare... Paul Harding's Tinkers was the most recent. Junot Diaz's Oscar Wao was a first novel, but he had published a book of short stories before that. Same with Oscar Hijuelos' Mambo Kings and Edward Jones' Known World. You have to go all the way back to John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces to find a first novel/first book that won before Tinkers, and then back to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. So, winning the Pultizer with a first novel/first book is a rare occurrence.
jfieds2 Jan 14, 2015
You're forgetting Lahiri, unless you were only counting first novels...
BRAKiasaurus Dec 15, 2014
jfieds2 Dec 10, 2014
Who has read FAMILY LIFE? I have too many yet unfinished 2014 novels to pick up another right now, but I am intrigued. It seems like it should be in the running, for sure.

Mike, I know that being a past winner of the PEN/Hemingway has some weight in the analysis. Has this decreased at all since there has not been a PEN/Hemingway to Pulitzer winner since Lahiri?

Also, who has read THE BLAZING WORLD. That will probably be high on my list for holiday week reads. The subject doesn't excite me much, but it's been popping up in enough places.

Further, I put this way below, but I bet many didn't see it. My report on NEVERHOME -- a Civil War-era novel. I enjoyed it, although I am conflicted on how successful the ending is. (It was a bit more deux ex machina than I would like.) Still, I am a bit surprised it hasn't made any best of year lists that I have seen. The writing is, by in large, beautiful and understated. It's not a winner but it does seem like the kind of book that could make a surprise appearance as a finalist. There often seems to be a finalist that didn't get much buzz.
ey814 Dec 10, 2014
@jfieds2 Thanks for the update on NEVERHOME, I was interested in it... he was a PEN Faulkner finalist last year, if I recall.

The 'being a past winner of the PEN/Hemingway' is a positive factor in the prediction, but sort of a middle of the road prediction. Past PEN/Hemingway winners who went on to win the Pulitzer include Marilynne Robinson, Edward P. Jones, and, as you mention, Lahiri. MALADIES is the only PEN Hemingway winner to actually win the Pulitzer as well. But, again, sort of a mid-pack variable because of the limited number of PEN Hemingway winners who have gone on to (with another book) win the Pulitzer.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 16, 2014
@ey814 Reading it now--it has very direct written language. I too am curious how it will fare against some of the other competition this year. I'm similarly curious about how Dept. of Speculation, a slim and spare (and some might say experimental) might do when it comes to the awards season.

Much like Paul Yoon's "Snow Hunters" or Annie Dillard's "Maytrees", "A Family Life" seems to have been a much much larger novel (7000 pages!!) that was subsequently edited, pared away, to the form that was eventually published.

Consider reading this:
BRAKiasaurus Dec 21, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 70 pages in, I must confess that I do not understand the hype behind "Family Life".
grahammyers Dec 10, 2014
Kathryn Schulz' (NY Mag) Top 10 Books:

Another list with 'Lila', 'Family Life', 'Redeployment'
TELyles Dec 11, 2014
Euphoria makes another appearance, checking in at #5...
BRAKiasaurus Dec 8, 2014
Early, but I'm gonna throw this out there: so far, the best books I've read this year--and the ones I'd likely nominate for pulitzer--are "Redeployment", "10:04", and "Fourth of July Creek".

(I thought Merritt Tierce's novel / collection of short stories was pretty strong but for some reason I doubt it will be a strong contender in the award season. And I haven't yet read Anthony Doerr's novel.)
jfieds2 Dec 10, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I revisited part of FOURTH OF JULY CREEK recently and realized that my somewhat tepid review earlier in the year was partly due to unreasonably high expectations (based on a few random factors) and being in an awful "personal space" when I was reading it. It is certainly a major contender.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 11, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I kept considering picking up "Life Drawing", since Robin Black had received so much acclaim for her collection--and they really seem (at least insofar as I can tell by the internet and independent bookseler placement / suggesting books, etc.) to be really trying to get her out there with this novel.

Haven't really heard much about "Head Master's Wife", but the premise is great!

For what it's worth, I don't think "10:04 will be a finalist unfortunately. It may win some awards, but I am skeptical that it would win the pulitzer....that said, I'd be very pleased to see it as a finalist. It's just wonderful--the writing is great, the layered plotting, just all very good.

So that would leave one open spot. You are among the few I have heard who absolutely loved "We Are Not Ourselves". I haven't read it, but when I saw it was coming out, saw it was a debut, and saw how much they paid for that debut, I have to say I was intrigued. I think it stands a very good shot (well written, buzzed about, new york novel about more than new york, etc.)--but I'll have to let you know what I think after reading it. I loved "Someone" and still think it (or "the son" or "all there is") should probably have won the pulitzer last year--sounds like they are similar.

Tell me, EdParks, was it you or jfieds2 who thought Salter's book should have won last year? I am on board with you--I would have been happy if it won, as I stated above--but I get your opinions and suggestions mixed up with that of jfieds2. You have both provided some excellent recommendations in the past.
jfieds2 Dec 14, 2014
Missed this. It wasn't me who touted ALL THAT IS, last year, but thanks for the kind words.
jfieds2 Dec 16, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I already read BLACK RIVER, as a galley, and it is very, very good. (I was almost going to say *spectacular* but I am not sure I have that confidence.) You are correct about the advanced praise; for what it's worth, it got a star from all four of the "advanced review" publications -- PW, Kirkus, Library Journal, and Booklist. It will be the book that I will "champion" next year and foist on all of my literary friends. It's really my kind of novel tightly written, but not light. Beautifully on the sentence level, with a story that is compelling. (Then again, I also am not a plot first reader -- in fact I can go without plot if characters and writing are well conceived.)

On the other hand I just could not get through WE ARE NOT OURSELVES. There were entire sections that just bored me. I was reading it as a galley, so it's been a while, but I recall wanting much less house hunting, for example. I may not have even gotten to the heart of the story, but it felt way overwritten. It felt like it could have been half the size. If it makes the NBCC short list, I might give it another go, but honestly, I don't think that it is going to make the cut. I think FOURTH OF JULY CREEK has a much better chance at that and the Pulitzer.

Additionally, count me as one of the readers "fooled" by ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. I thought it was very well done. I could not believe that he wrote such lyrically beautiful sentences with a story that was also compelling. It's not a Pulitzer book, but I think it could make the NBCC list.

It's amazing how different readers can react to the same book. I thought SOMEONE was lovely. Hopefully our differing opinions don't dissuade you on BLACK RIVER, Ed. I'd be very curious to know your reaction.
TELyles Dec 6, 2014
Hi, long time lurker and I just created a LiveFyre account to join in on the fun. I've been so thankful for this forum as it has led to a rich reading experience over the past couple of years. While reading the pulitzer winner, or having a copy waiting to be read, before the announcement is certainly a plus, more than anything I appreciate the comments, insights and discussion regarding contemporary fiction!

On an unrelated note, someone mentioned Euphoria (Lily King) a few pages back and it has been gaining momentum. NYTimes, Time, Amazon, etc. Has anyone read this book and what was your impression?
BRAKiasaurus Dec 21, 2014
@TELyles I have read this book--it's very good! Some beautiful things to it, and I wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from picking it up or reading it. I'm not sure how it will fare during the awards season, because I think there are some stronger novels and collections out there this year; that said, I really enjoyed it. =)
michijake Dec 4, 2014
If anyone's looking for signed copies of "Redeployment," they have them at this site, although I'm not sure if they're first editions:
ey814 Dec 5, 2014
@michijake Looking at Phil Klay's website, he did an appearance at that store in March of 2014,so if they have books left, I'm betting they are First Editions. Thanks for the heads up!
TELyles Dec 6, 2014
@ey814 @michijake Greenlight Bookstore has signed copies of Redeployment (per their website).
DustySpines Dec 7, 2014
@ey814 @michijake I'd give them a call first and ask about the book's condition. I shop there often and the books can be a bit rough condition-wise.
ey814 Dec 10, 2014
@michijake @DustySpines I ordered one (before DustySpines posted his warning) and, fortunately, the book arrived in fine shape. It was a first edition. Only bummer was the postage cost... they would only do UPS and it was $14. Ah well. But, got a signed first of Redeployment!
mrbenchly Dec 11, 2014
@ey814 Thanks for the head's up and update on the signed copies. I ordered one last night. Fingers crossed that it arrives in good shape. The postage is steep but it still beats the ebay prices.
ey814 Dec 4, 2014
NY Times 10 Best Books (5 fiction, 5 non-fiction):

Doerr and Klay made the list, then three books I haven't seen discussed, 'Dept. of Speculation' by Jill Offill, 'Euphoria' by Lily King, and 'Family Life' by Akhil Sharma. Anyone read any of these?
grahammyers Dec 4, 2014
@ey814 more and more i'm thinking 'Redeployment' has an excellent chance at the Pulitzer. your thoughts?
AlexKerner Dec 4, 2014
@grahammyers @ey814 except that the NBA winner very rarely wins the Pulitzer. Doerr's book has the whole non American theme going against it too. Lots still up for grabs. We will have to wait intently for the National Book Critics Circle short list!!
grahammyers Dec 4, 2014
@AlexKerner @grahammyers @ey814 Robinson's 'Lila' could a dark horse. plenty of american themes.
ey814 Dec 4, 2014
@grahammyers @AlexKerner In fact, only three books that have won the National Book Award have, in turn, won the Pulitzer... Rabbit is Rich by Updike (1982), The Color Purple by Walker (1983) and The Shipping News by Proulx (1994). Going on that alone, it makes Redeployment an unlikely Pulitzer winner, or one can speculate that time is overdue for the NBA winner to win the Pulitzer. Two other factors going against Redeployment and the Pulitzer are (1) short story collections don't often win (I know, I know, Goon Squad and Olive Kitteridge were sort of connected short stories, but not collections, per se... I haven't read Redeployment yet, so don't know if they're collected or connected... I know they're connected in theme), and (2) it's a first book. From what I can tell just thinking about it, only Jhumpa Lahiri has won the Pulitzer for a first book that was of short stories (though, I may not be right on that, and I trust list members will correct that :-)).

But, I agree that it's too early to tell... just don't put all your eggs in the Redeployment basket :-)
grahammyers Dec 4, 2014
@ey814 @grahammyers @AlexKerner another dark horse: akhil sharma's 'Family Life'. I haven't read it yet, but have heard from others that it has more to say about life in America than any other fiction this year.
ey814 Dec 5, 2014
@grahammyers @ey814 @AlexKerner Yes, it showed up on the NY Times Ten best books list I mentioned earlier. As I looked at his website, Sharma won the PEN/Hemingway Award for his first novel, An Obedient Father. Might be worth keeping an eye on.
ey814 Dec 6, 2014
@EdParks That is a history I would be pleased to see. I think Robinson is one of the few authors out there that 'deserve' a second Pulitzer.
grahammyers Dec 7, 2014
@EdParks @grahammyers @AlexKerner @ey814 i didn't know Robinson wasn't in attendance at the NBA's. anyone know why not?
AlexKerner Dec 10, 2014
@ey814 there definitely seems to be a lot of buzz building for Euphoria...has anyone read it yet?
jfieds2 Dec 10, 2014
@ey814 DEPARTMENT OF SPECULATION is a gorgeous, tiny, understated, gut-punch of a book. It is almost poetry, and definitely not for everyone. The PEN/Faulkner is sometimes referred to as the most "literary"/writer-ly of the major awards and that is exactly the kind of place where I think this book might shine. I don't see it as a Pulitzer (even a finalist), then again it really does all depend on the jury. I keep thinking back to the no award year in 2012 and find the choices so odd, especially with other possibilities. After seeing his name mentioned again on here, I dug up an interview with Garth Risk Hallberg who said that THE ANGEL ESMERALDA should have won the Pulitzer in 2012. I think that choice as a finalist might have gotten the jury to pick it. So much depends on what the judges but up to the Board.
jfieds2 Dec 16, 2014
@ey814 Mike, besides TINKERS, did any other recent winners **not** appear on the NYT notable list? Is this essentially our "long long" list?
Marybethking Dec 4, 2014
Has anyone read Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You. It's on my list now too, a beautiful story.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 4, 2014
@Marybethking I'm reading it now. It's pretty good--so far, surprised that it was Amazon's favorite novel, but it deals with some interesting issues of race and how a family reacts to trauma.
JpCambert Dec 6, 2014
@Marybethking It was the best book I've read this year thus far. Heart wrenching and stunningly beautiful.
TELyles Dec 6, 2014
@JpCambert @Marybethking Good book, I read it over Thanksgiving. I agree that it is heart wrenching and a beautiful work. For the first half, I was mildly annoyed that this was another book wherein the "event" happens at the outset and everything that follows explains and deepens the moments that lead up to the "event." I was pleasantly surprised that while this did happen, Ng is such a skilled writer that her narrative elevated the story and led to a deeper emotional resonance. The subtle twists and slow reveals certainly helped in this regard. I did have a hard time tracking down a signed copy of her book. Her website lists past events and I called around to a few stores before finding a signed copy on the shelves.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 8, 2014
@JpCambert @Marybethking So far, for me, it's a fairly well-written book--possibly worth reading--but it doesn't stand out particularly to me...and I would be shocked if this was a finalist for the pulitzer.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 3, 2014
ey814 Dec 2, 2014
So, I was going to sign up for the PEN American auction of annotated books, but it looked pretty invasive (they required a copy of a government ID with a photo as part of what you submitted!) and I didn't want to go through the hassle since I doubted anything would stay anywhere near my price range (which, really, is not much of anything). That was wise, as I'm seeing that the entire auction made almost $920,000 and the Roth annotated American Pastoral went, alone, for $80,000! I can't seem to find out how to actually look at what the books sold for, so will be interested in seeing if there were any bargains had!
ey814 Dec 3, 2014
Okay, they've posted the prices realized in the PEN American "First Editions, Second Thoughts" auction conducted by Christies:

Some of the books we were talking about when this first was announced or are Pultizer winners or finalists and their realized prices were:

Chabon, Michael, 'Mysteries of Pittsburgh', $4,00

Cunningham, Michael, 'The Hours', $21,00

DeLillo, Don, 'Underworld', $57,00

Diaz, Junot, 'Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao', $18,00

Egan, Jennifer, 'Visit from the Goon Squad', $24,00

Ford, Richard, 'The Sportswriter', $7,00

Lahiri, Jhumpa, 'Interpreter of Maladies', $11,00

McMurtry, Larry, 'Lonesome Dove' series novels, $5,00

Morrison, Toni, 'Beloved, $19,00

Robinson, Marilyn, 'Housekeeping', $24,00

Roth, Philip, 'Portnoy's Complaint', $52,00

Roth, Philip, 'American Pastoral', $80,00

Smiley, Jane, 'A Thousand Acres', $6,50

Tyler, Anne, 'Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant', $22,00

Walker, Alice, 'The Color Purple', $4,00

A couple of observations:

1. There are some book collectors out there with deep pockets. Man, I don't stand a chance in a market like this.

2. Being a Pulitzer winning book mattered to some degree... compare Diaz's Oscar Wao to Chabon's non-Pulitzer winning first novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh. And as I recall, Chabon very heavily annotated Mysteries.

3. Annotation mattered. Cunningham not only annotated his copy of The Hours but also, if I recall, provided a CD with photos referenced in the annotations. Alice Walker just signed the title page. Otherwise, I can't imagine that Color Purple would have way outperformed The Hours.

4. Being Philip Roth mattered.

5. Related to above, being a rare signer mattered... compare Anne Tyler (who rarely signs) to, say, Jane Smiley, who is a generous signer.

6. Being Don DeLillo mattered.

7. Being Marilyn Robinson mattered.

8. Surprised Beloved didn't do better, but I don't recall if it was very heavily annotated or not.
ey814 Dec 3, 2014
@EdParks I agree that the prices were likely inflated due to the fact that this was a fund raiser for PEN American, and good that they were! I would love to know who the winning bidders were :-). I wonder if any of these will show up on the secondary book market... they seem already to be at their highest price point, so doesn't seem that one could make much money off of reselling them, at least any time soon.
ey814 Dec 3, 2014
@EdParks I do wonder as well how many of the buyers were institutional, and as you say, libraries that hold archives. I do suspect you're right as well that we won't see these re-enter the market, at least for a while. We should keep our eyes out for books as they show up in the coming years!
ey814 Dec 3, 2014
@EdParks Just started it. I must say, though, that reading Ford writing about Bascombe is like slipping on a comfortable old pair of slippers... I don't notice how ugly the slippers are, just how comfortable they are!
DustySpines Dec 7, 2014
@ey814 thanks for posting all this. I signed up to receive further info about just going and seeing the display, but they never sent me anything whatsoever, I got busy and forgot about it.

Am also reading latest Bascombe right now, experiencing similar feelings as the first three are sacred to me. I think I'm enjoying it though. I saw Ford give two NYC talks on the book and he was very charming and funny.
AlexKerner Dec 2, 2014
some more list-candy with the NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2014
michijake Nov 30, 2014
Has everyone stopped by their local Barnes and Noble recently? They're doing a special with signed books, and my local one had signed first editions of the Goldfinch. There may be some catch, but they appeared to be actual first printings.
michijake Nov 30, 2014
Of course one issue is that it's not the first edition dust jacket (it has the Pulitzer emblem on it). But still pretty cool!
mrbenchly Dec 2, 2014
@michijake This edition of The Goldfinch also differs from the first printings in that it has been given a new ISBN number. On the copyright page, the new ISBN number is for the "signed edition." Considering the "First Edition October 2013" line and the full number line both appear, though, I'm really curious to know when these books were actually printed.
BRAKiasaurus Dec 2, 2014
@mrbenchly @michijake I agree, as it does in fact say "first edition october 2013" in the one i picked up
BRAKiasaurus Dec 2, 2014
@michijake Thanks so much for the heads up on this! I didnt' love "The Goldfinch", but parts of it stuck with me and it was a very entertaining read. I went ahead and picked up a signed copy, the last one at my local store!
ey814 Dec 2, 2014
@Brakiasaurus @michijake @mrbenchly I don't live near enough to a B&N any more to have gotten to a store (sigh), but saw the copies of Goldfinch signed from there showing up on eBay right around Black Friday. The cover is obviously not a first edition DJ, as the one's I've seen online have what are either medallions or stickers saying "Signed Edition" and "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize'" or something like that. I heard from my wife's aunt (Hi Barbara!) who has an online bookstore that there was a different ISBN number for these "First Editions." This is exactly what happened with some of the Oprah Book Club selections. The most recent example I can think of was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. The book was well into multiple printings (as, of course, has been Goldfinch for a while) when the Oprah edition was released, and in addition to the Oprah medallian on the DJ, it had a different ISBN, even though it said First Edition. I found an only-slightly-marked (price-wise) copy of the B&N version online, so will check it out when it arrives, but the other feature of Sawtelle's Oprah version was that it was lighter in weight than the true first edition because they used cheaper paper. I wonder if that's the case with the B&N version. So, I'm betting it's best classified as a "First Edition Thus" and not copies of the true first edition they had hidden away somewhere.

Were there signed copies of any other Pulitzer-candidates from this year? Lila? Anything else?
michijake Dec 2, 2014
@ey814 Thanks for all the info! I don't have the signed copy with me right now, but I can say it felt pretty heavy when I bought it. The issue of the new ISBN is quite interesting - I guess future collectors will have to decide how valuable these are. I think the only other Pulitzer-esque book I saw in the sale was James Ellroy's "Perfidia," although I'm not sure what kind of reviews it's been getting. They also had "The Bone Clocks" for you David Mitchell Fans out there.

If anyone is looking for a signed copy of "Lila," I believe they still have them for order at Book Passage. Incidentally, Daedalus Books in Maryland also has copies of "Lila" with signed bookplates for $15.95.
michijake Dec 2, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus My pleasure! I had similarly mixed feelings about the book but for some reason I still wanted a signed copy. I was thinking about switching the dust jackets between the new copy and an older one that doesn't have the Pulitzer emblem. Does that make me dishonest?
ey814 Dec 3, 2014
@EdParks @michijake @BRAKiasaurus I too have "married" first issue DJs from one book to a different first edition copy when the DJ on the original was damaged or torn or something. It seems preferable to keep the original DJ with the original book, but given the nature of how DJs are made, I don't think swapping out a better DJ with one that's worse is that big of a deal unless, perhaps, it's To Kill a Mackingbird or The Great Gatsby or something!

Still, the ISBN will indicate this as the B&N edition. By virtue of having a new ISBN, it indicates that they were printed after the 'true' first, so won't be true firsts, though again, still pretty prized as a collector's version. I certainly want my copy :-).
DustySpines Dec 7, 2014
@ey814 @EdParks @michijake @BRAKiasaurus I went early the first morning of the sale to a quiet B&N and purchased one copy of the Goldfinch, for purely collector motives since I don't care for her writting. I noticed the different state jacket but not the new ISBN until I read it here. Makes me wonder why they included numberline with 1, unless they were going after less-seasoned collectors (Has the book gone into later printings?). Will be interested to see how the market develops for this edition. I see it selling on ABE for 100-125 and sadly, some dealers do not appear to be entirely forthcoming about the B&N origins.

Other then the Goldfinch, and David Mitchell (there is now a signed Boneclocks for every man, woman, and child in America), I figured the smart B&N buy might be in the former and possible future president part of the collection. You might be interested to hear that, as far as I can tell, the signed Hillary Clinton memoir was a true first printing given a new isbn by way of a messy-to-remove-sticker placed over the original information on the back of the dust jacket. Remove that sticker, and as far as I can see, you have a true first printing.

The B&N holiday scheme is an interesting development if they continue it in the future. Imagine they select collectable literary work of fiction recently published (still in first printing), or that they convince Stephen King or someone like that to sign.
jfieds2 Dec 10, 2014
@EdParks @michijake @BRAKiasaurus I am sure you all know, but a book only gets a new ISBN if it is issued in a different form. All HC printings would have the same ISBN. An ISBN doesn't even change when it includes a sticker (or printed on medal) on the DJ.
AlexKerner Nov 20, 2014
Washington Post just did its Ten Best Books of 2014…they include pulitzer eligible Fourth of July Creek and Station Eleven.

They also released a Top 50 Fiction for the year
grahammyers Nov 26, 2014
@AlexKerner looking forward to seeing the NY Times list. hope it's released soon.
AlexKerner Nov 19, 2014
so Redeployment wins.
ey814 Nov 20, 2014
@AlexKerner so it does! I'll put it next on my to read list (after the new Frank Basham novel :-)). @EdParks called this, so kudos. In fact, I'm not going to try to find it, but early in the discussion for this year, someone brought up Redeployment, so I bought a signed first and an ARC for not-much-money, so to whomever did that, thanks!
jfieds2 Nov 20, 2014
@EdParks @ey814 I wonder that too. Tim O'Brien, whose Vietnam-themed books are brilliant, has struggled to write well about other things.

Re: REDEPLOYMENT, I am thrilled that it won. I thought that AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN had a good shot, based on the judged, even though I probably enjoyed both REDEPLOYMENT and ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE more.

We all know that the NBA winner does not have a very good track record in the Pulitzer hunt, but this one seems to me to have a good chance. Possibly even more so than THE GOOD LORD BIRD, last year.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 20, 2014
@jfieds2 @EdParks @ey814 I'll take credit for calling it, haha =D
BRAKiasaurus Nov 20, 2014
@jfieds2 @EdParks @ey814 Also, I agree about this being a very strong contender for the pulitzer. Will be shocked if it's not a finalist.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 18, 2014
2016 forum fodder, but (as I know there are those among us who work for the publishing industry) has anyone read these:

Also, are there any more detailed plans yet for the publication date of Garth Risk Hallberg's acclaimed novel? I have read suggestions that it will surface in 2015 (I'd imagine the fall).
BRAKiasaurus Nov 19, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus Keep me posted if you find out anything--I'm definitely curious about it.

I too have a copy of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES and haven't given it a go yet. Largely that is because I have been diving into other large novels this year: some old Denis Johnson, Ove Knausgaard, etc. He's near the top of my queue, though.
ey814 Nov 20, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus I'm 2/3 of the way through We are Not Ourselves. It's well written, reminds me a bit of Someone by Alice McDermott from last year. Certainly one of the better books I've read this year, though I still liked Fourth of July Creek better.
jfieds2 Nov 20, 2014
@EdParks @ey814 I like McDermott, but I couldn't get through Thomas' tome. I wanted to enjoy it, but it needed more editing, in my opinion. I also heard a rumor that the original manuscript was actually *significantly* longer, so maybe the author agreed to cut as much as he was willing.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 22, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus Only 3 volumes are available to me in the US--I have read just a bit of the first volume. What little I read was fantastic and excited me about the rest of the books. Could be a deceptive start, but I'm definitely curious.

As for Johnson, I'd put "Train Dreams" among my favorite novels of the past few years. Reminded me of Tinkers, one of the most impressive novels I think I will ever read--really resonated with me.
jfieds2 Nov 20, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Well, if it's coming in the Fall of 2015, we should know by about March/April. That's about when the Fall list should be finalized.
ey814 Dec 2, 2014
I love that this thread ranged from Thomas to McDermott to My Struggle to Johnson! @EdParks I didn't know Thomas studied under McDermott... very interesting. I think it's evident. Good information! @jfiedsI agree about it needing an edit. I thought the last quarter of the book was the best, it dragged in places up to that.

I haven't read any of the volumes of My Struggle, but my son has and raves about them.

@BRAKiasaurus have you read The Laughing Monster, Johnson's new one?
ey814 Nov 17, 2014
Okay, so the National Book Award ceremony is Wednesday. For those of you not in NYC, or those of you in NYC who don't have tickets :-), it will be live streamed at:

I'm way behind on my reading... and still haven't read any of the finalists. Sigh. So, I have no sense of who should win. The UK betting site, NicerOdds ( has Lila a favorite (2.75 to 1), followed by Redeployment (3.5 to 1), An Unnecessary Woman (4 to 1), Station Eleven (4.5 to 1) and All the Light We Cannot See as the long shot (9 to 1). That surprises me a bit, based upon the reception Light We Cannot See has received.

Robinson has not won the National Book Award, so I would not be surprised to see Lila win. But, again, I've not read any of the books, so that's entirely speculation!

Anyone making any last minute projections/predictions? Several folks have advocated Unnecessary Woman. Still the discussion group favorite?
AlexKerner Nov 17, 2014
@ey814 I haven't read it yet but my money is on All the Light We Cannot See. I have read the first few pages and am enamored already so looking forward to it. Have read Station Eleven, which I found a very unique take on the dystopia genre, but not sure if it carries enough weight for the award.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 17, 2014
@EdParks @ey814 My money is on "Redeployment", then "All the Light We Cannot See" and think "An Unncessary Woman", a novel I haven't yet had a chance to read, would be the surprise.
Marybethking Nov 18, 2014
I totally disagree with you on All the Light We Cannot See. Are you sure you read that novel? Everything from the title to the bit characters' take on life came together perfectly. The waiting game towards the end of the war and novel reminded me of Audrey Hepburn's performance in 'Wait Until Dark.' This book deserves to win if for nothing other than the last page of the novel. All the light we cannot see.
ey814 Nov 17, 2014
Something to put on the radar for the 2016 Pulitzer:

"Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, described “Purity” as a multigenerational American epic that spans decades and continents. The story centers on a young woman named Purity Tyler, or Pip, who doesn’t know who her father is and sets out to uncover his identity. The narrative stretches from contemporary America to South America to East Germany before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and hinges on the mystery of Pip’s family history and her relationship with a charismatic hacker and whistleblower. Like Mr. Franzen’s best-sellers “Freedom” and “The Corrections,” which have each sold well over a million copies, his new novel tackles big themes like sexual politics, love and parenthood. But the novel also marks a stylistic departure for Mr. Franzen, Mr. Galassi said. “There’s a kind of fabulist quality to it,” he said. “It’s not strict realism. There’s a kind of mythic undertone to the story.” FlagShare1EdParksLikeReply AlexKerner AlexKerner Nov 17, 2014 @ey814 Hopefully it will be better than Freedom, which although good paled compared to The Corrections. I guess we'll all have to bear up and get ready to read a wonderful book where you hate all the characters. FlagShare3jfieds2ey814BRAKiasaurusLikeReply BRAKiasaurus BRAKiasaurus Nov 17, 2014 @AlexKerner @ey814 Yeah, unfortunately, I found Freedom"" to be tedious. Had high hopes (much as I did for ""Telegraph Avenue"", another novel that just did nothing for me), but it didn't live up to them. "
ey814 Nov 17, 2014
@AlexKerner @BRAKiasaurus I liked Freedom, though not as much as The Corrections. I also liked Telegraph Avenue, though thought it needed a serious edit... I kept getting lost. I'm surprised Franzen has another novel ready so quickly, that's not his typical pace.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 17, 2014
@ey814 I guess, because I live in Berkeley, I was hoping "Telegraph" would be something more akin to "Wonder Boys", less fantastical, more grounded in a realism....instead it was this odd blend of caricature and the fantastical. The best bit of writing was from the parrot's perspective, a parrot he insists is the same one from his other novels (which is just silly and adds nothing to the story). He can even do fantastical well, but it lacked even the emotional arc and depth of "Kavalier"....just really really underwhelming.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 18, 2014
@EdParks The film is indeed great--I agree about Franzen's ambition but not about his execution. I'd put Delillo and Denis Johnson ahead of him in both departments.
jfieds2 Nov 20, 2014
@ey814 I've got a 2015 debut novel to look out for BLACK RIVER by S.M. Hulse. Read it as a galley. It pubs in Jan. It's a debut and the 4th Montana-set novel I've read this year (well, I am still picking my way through THE PLOUGHMEN), and perhaps the best. I'd say I liked it more the FOURTH OF JULY CREEK and PAINTED HORSES.

PW review:
Marybethking Nov 15, 2014
Here is my last plug for 'The Enchanted.' I would love for something this undiscovered and well written to win this year. I'm reading 'Everything I Never Told You' right now.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 17, 2014
@Marybethking I plan to read it the upcoming long weekend. =) Will let you know what I think.
grahammyers Nov 12, 2014
I wish Michel Faber's "The Book of Strange New Things" was eligible for the Pulitzer (alas Faber is a Dutchman). My favorite read of the year so far. A remarkable character study and portrait of a marriage in turmoil, all in a science fiction setting.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 13, 2014
@grahammyers it's definitely been getting some good press =)
JpCambert Nov 11, 2014
I just finished "Everything I Never Told You" based on the recommendation from Amazon's editors. I had not heard anything about this novel prior to this, but, I must say, it is exquisite. Easily the best novel I've read this year so far. It easily (for me) surpasses the Powers and Doerr books and narrowly surpasses "An Unnecessary Woman" (although I don't believe this book is eligible for the Pulitzer). Very highly recommended.
AlexKerner Nov 11, 2014
@JpCambert I believe that Celeste Ng is American so would be eligible for the Pulitzer. Thanks for the recommendation though…will definitely be reading it
JpCambert Nov 11, 2014
@AlexKerner @JpCambert I'm aware. I was referring to Alameddine's eligibility, not Ng's.
AlexKerner Nov 11, 2014
@JpCambert @AlexKerner Wiki lists him as a Lebanese-American. Doesn't the NBA have similar requirements as Pulitzer re citizenship?
mrbenchly Nov 12, 2014
@AlexKerner @JpCambert The NBA and Pulitzer have the same US-citizenship requirements:

If the NBA is following its own rules, Alameddine's finalist status confirms his eligibility for the Pulitzer.
AlexKerner Nov 10, 2014
Amazon editors released their top 100 books of the year. Three in their top ten are on the NBA shortlist (All the Light We Cannot See, Redeployment and Station Eleven).

BRAKiasaurus Nov 10, 2014
@AlexKerner I haven't read it, but I'm surprised by their number one pick....givent hat I haven't heard a lot about it otherwise.
AlexKerner Nov 10, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @AlexKerner yes this was the first time i heard it mentioned
ey814 Nov 8, 2014
According to the National Book Foundation Facebook page, the judges for the National Book Awards pick the winner from the finalists for the the day of the Awards Ceremony. That surprises me, I figured they would have ranked them previously and that the winner was already known.
AlexKerner Nov 8, 2014
@ey814 I heard this mentioned during the NPR interview the day the shortlist was announced. Apparently they decide over breakfast.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 7, 2014
Has anyone read Marlon James' book? It's got some pretty amazing reviews....based on nothing more than reviews and reactions, I could see Phil Klay, Marlon James, and Anthony Doerr being the three strongest contenders for the Pulitzer so far this year. (I know that books that don't fall in line with the "American theme" tend not to win, however they often find themselves among the finalists. Additionally--as I have said before--I could see this being an atypical year: i.e., the winner being a debut, a short story collection, a non-American-centric novel, or even, potentially, a second-time winner.)

Anyway, how's Marlon's novel? Worth the money, effort, and time?
BRAKiasaurus Nov 7, 2014
That said, it occurs to me is that Marlon James isn't an American citizen--so he may be out. In any case, still curious what people think =)
ey814 Nov 13, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Not sure why I never noticed Marlon James is not a US Citizen, but I think you're right. He has a Masters from Wilkes University in PA, and has lived and taught in Minnesota since 2007, but does still appear to have Jamaican citizenship. His new book is still one I want to read...
ey814 Nov 5, 2014
One of the early "best of 2014" lists from Publishers Weekly... includes Marlon James, Lorrie Moore, and Joseph O'Neil:
grahammyers Nov 4, 2014
Today marks the return of a familiar American literary protagonist, Frank Bascombe in Richard Ford's new volume of stories, "Let Me Be Frank with You." Ford is a remarkable prose stylist and always has an outside shot at a Pulitzer whenever he publishes. A review:
ey814 Nov 5, 2014
@grahammyers Already ordered my signed copy from Joseph Fox bookseller in Philadelphia and downloaded it on the Kindle to read! Unhappy that his book tour doesn't take him close enough for me to go see him. Ah well.
BRAKiasaurus Nov 3, 2014 5 under 35, by the way...Phil klay is looking stronger and stronger as a Pulitzer contender...
jfieds2 Oct 30, 2014
If anyone is going to be in NYC, there is going to be a charity auction at Christies of 75 famous (or close) first editions (not all Pulitzers) of books with notations by the authors. I've not yet explored all of the offerings, but AMERICAN PASTORAL, OSCAR WAO, THE HOURS, and GOON SQUAD are among the offerings.
BRAKiasaurus Oct 30, 2014
@jfieds2 Whoa. American Pastoral is rare.
jfieds2 Oct 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @jfieds2 I wonder why it's rare. It's not like Roth was an unknown author at the time. The print run couldn't have been that low.

Also, re print runs: way far down someone was asking if there was a source for them. I mentioned that the only thing I knew about was publishers occasional announced first printings. I have since learned that these are often complete lies. Sometimes publishers announce a high number to generate buzz or who knows what. Still, they are under no obligation to be truthful, so there is likely no way to know for sure.
ey814 Nov 5, 2014
@jfieds2 @BRAKiasaurus @EdParks Of course the true first of American Pastoral is the Franklin Press signed edition. It goes for a pretty hefty price. I've picked up several of the trade firsts at used bookstores for a song, even found the uncorrected proof, but haven't run into a signed version of the trade edition yet, which I'd like to have. I've put the American PEN auction at Christies on my calendar... probably won't be able to win anything, but doesn't hurt to bid!
ey814 Nov 5, 2014
@EdParks I have an old, glass bookcase (I think they're called Lawyer's Bookcases?) in which I house all my Franklin Press, Easton, and other limited editions that are slipcased or otherwise specially bound books, and I think they look good in that context :-). I just browsed through the catalog..... very, very cool. I think you're right about the Roth American Pastoral being the gem of the lot (though I'll admit to only really paying attention to the books authored by Pulitzer authors). I thought the Morrison and Alice Walker books would be great, but both authors seem to have just inscribed something on the title page and signed it, so that doesn't seem as unique. I thought Chabon's extensive annotations on his first novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh looked pretty interesting, and agree that Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping looked enticing as well. Also looks like Michael Cunningham went all out for his... good for him!
mrbenchly Nov 12, 2014
@ey814 I love my barrister/lawyer bookcases! Will you be bidding in person? I'm disappointed I won't have an opportunity to see the books in person and am toying with the idea of bidding online, though I'm fairly certain my maximum bid for the book I'd want will fall well short of the opening bid.
BRAKiasaurus Oct 29, 2014
Anyone read Laird Hunt's latest? His previous novel "Kind One" was a finalist for the pen faulkner award.
jfieds2 Oct 30, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I am reading NEVERHOME right now. I got it from the Book Passage First Editions Club. So far, I am liking it a lot. Stay tuned.
jfieds2 Dec 10, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I forgot to update this thread. I enjoyed this book, although I am conflicted on how successful the ending is. Still, I am a bit surprised it hasn't made any best of year lists that I have seen. It's not a winner but it does seem like the kind of book that could make a surprise appearance as a finalist. There often seems to be a finalist that didn't get much buzz.
jfieds2 Oct 15, 2014
I've read 4/5 of the NBA short list. I still need to read LILA, but REDEPLOYMENT and ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, are squarely on my best of year list. I thought STATION ELEVEN was very competent, but merely okay. Still, although it was not my favorite, I would bet a lot that AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN takes home the prize, especially after looking over the judges. It is somewhat of a cerebral book, and the judges are a serious bunch. I must admit, I haven't reviewed past year's judges, and I am sure they always have been "serious", but this is just my impression. Perhaps I am trying to "shoehorn" a rationale for my opinion. But there it is. I think the least widely-read and book not at all about America will take the award. Mark it.
jfieds2 Oct 19, 2014
@EdParks @jfieds2 I thought that AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN was a wholly beautiful novel, but the number of mentions of other writers, at times, was overkill for me. It didn't help that I was only familiar with a spattering of them, so I felt somewhat under-read and inadequate. I am not sure I can agree that the other books that I've read are "contrived and manipulative", but AN UNNECESSARY woman is, topically, probably the most serious and important.

To answer your question, unlike the Pulitzer which includes the "preferably about American life" directive, the National Book Award includes nothing of the sort.
JohnZ Oct 15, 2014
I am very surprised indeed that Jane Smiley's "Some Luck" is not on the NBA shortlist. It's one of the books I'm currently reading, and I have to wonder what the NBA could be thinking. Even though I've some way to go, I am enjoying the novel very much. And marveling at it. How Ms. Smiley has taken on so daunting a project and how beautifully she is succeeding. The Langdons and their lives are fascinating, and I feel pretty much as I did when I read "A Thousand Acres": these characters have entered my mind in heart in a way that I look forward to visiting with them when I wake up in the morning. The novel seems almost to exist in a realm that lies beyond fiction. As a reader, you feel that you have a stake in observing the characters' lives.

It's been over two decades, I believe, since Ms. Smiley won her first Pulitzer. I would not be surprised at all to find "Some Luck" mentioned as a winner or a finalist when next April arrives.

I've also been reading "Lila," and of course it's engaging. One has come to except nothing less from Ms. Robinson, who has yet to write a bad novel. I've also been dipping into "Station Eleven." It's odd, to be sure, but I'm enjoying it. I believe Donna Tartt has spoken highly of it. The story is rather a strange -- it begins with an arresting scene, then slips into bizarre territory. Still, it's rather timely, I think, given the current crises which exist in the real world, such as it is.

But the absence of "Some Luck" on the shortlist -- I'm just stunned.
jfieds2 Oct 19, 2014
@JohnZ I've not yet read SOME LUCK, but we always have to remind ourselves that awards are only a reflection of the preferences of the judges. There is, of course, never objectivity in judging art, and probably never universal agreement. I am sure that there is always some dissension in award choices, even if judges say, at the end of the day, they are happy with their choice.

This brings up an interesting question. I am sure it's been discussed here, at some point, but let's do it again.

I have often wondered how the judging process, for any award, really works. Many hundreds of books are submitted for all awards. Obviously, all of the the judges can't read all of the books. My suspicion is that they divide the books up in some fashion -- each reading, say 50 -- and report back with their personal favorites. From there, they might all read 10 more suggested by each judge, and then come up with a list.

In the case of the short list this year, there are 5 judges, so perhaps each put forward his/her favorite, and advocated for it to get the assent of the others. Perhaps, each judge loved SOME LUCK, but personally preferred another title, even by the smallest margin. If none of them stood up and said, "Does anyone want to abandon their pick for Smiley instead? I don't want to give up on mine, but I preferred SOME LUCK to ____. Does anyone want to reconsider?", then it is left out...
grahammyers Oct 15, 2014
Of the 5 finalists for the National Book Award, I think the most relevant for the Pulitzer are 'Lila' and 'Redeployment'
AlexKerner Oct 15, 2014
@grahammyers I think it would be foolish to dismiss Station Eleven so early. If anything the NBA is more conservative in the kinds of subject matters it embraces, so I wouldn't rain on that parade so quickly. It was already suggested below that it would not be shortlisted today and low and behold there it is.
AlexKerner Oct 15, 2014
@grahammyers and i am totally biased since it is the only book from the list i have read…Lila and Redeployment is probably a favourite for the NBA at this point but long game I still don't think anything screams out Pulitzer like The Son and The Goldfinch did last year.
grahammyers Oct 14, 2014
realize that it's not American fiction but Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" (which just won the Man Booker) is well worth your time.
BRAKiasaurus Oct 14, 2014
@grahammyers Planning to pick it up. =D
BRAKiasaurus Oct 9, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Oct 9, 2014
grahammyers Oct 6, 2014
just finished John Darneille's "Wolf in White Van." While it featured some impressive writing, it was very dry. The plot took place mostly in the protagonist's mind and featured a lot of his inner life. I have a feeling it won't make it to the finalists lists for the National Book Award. starting Emily St.John Mandel's "Station Eleven" now.
JohnZ Oct 5, 2014
I came across some interesting news today, and since it is Pulitzer-related, I thought I'd pass it along.

It appears that HBO is going to show "Olive Kitteridge" as a mini-series this November. The director is Lisa Cholodenko, who directed "The Kids Are All Right" a few years ago. The writer is Jane Anderson, who wrote "The Baby Dance," a film-for-TV that was directed by Jodie Foster and starred Laura Dern and Stockard Channing.

The trailer for "Olive" is up, and it looks most promising, indeed. Richard Jenkins plays Henry, Olive's long-suffering yet benign husband. As Jack (the man whom Olive meets in the last story of the collection, a person who is just as blunt and acerbic as Olive herself) we have none other than Bill Murray. And as Olive? This, I think, clinches the whole deal. The title character -- one-time school teacher, pragmatic, no-nonsense, with just enough grace to have a bit of a wounded heart -- is played by Frances McDormand, who is clearly one of the best and most versatile actresses working today. It looks as if she has become Olive in this film, and I am very excited to see the finished series.

The trailer is available. Give it a look. I think those of you who read Ms. Strout's novel (or collection, however you view it) will be unable, while watching the trailer, to keep from smiling and feeling a poignant pang or two.
jfieds2 Oct 1, 2014
I am sure that some of you heard the news of the newly established Kirkus Prize earlier this year. It will be years before we can even consider it in our analysis, and it is frankly problematic from the start. The only books that are eligible are books which have received a starred review. Talking to industry folks, receiving a star in Kirkus (or PW) can be a bit random. Sometimes books with a very strong review do not receive a star. (This is true for both publications.) I think it has to do with not having too many starred reviews per issue; how well one of the anonymous reviewers lobbies the editorial staff; or any other number of arbitrary factors. I'd actually be curious to know how many Pulitzer winners received starred reviews. I'll note that a quick search reveals that THE GOLDFINCH was starred, while THE OPRHAN MASTER'S SON was not. For my money, I think that the narrative risks and complexity of THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON made it a superior novel.

Here is the list in case you missed it. The only book that should maybe get a longer look is THE BLAZING WORLD, it did make the Booker long list, after all.

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (S&S) Euphoria by Lily King (Atlantic Monthly Press) All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu (Knopf) Florence Gordon by Brian Morton (Houghton Mifflin) The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach (Algonquin) The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead)
ey814 Sep 30, 2014
Time once again to speculate (or bet) on who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature;
BRAKiasaurus Sep 30, 2014
@ey814 For crying out loud, give it to Roth already!
jfieds2 Oct 1, 2014
@ey814 Something tells me they will return to choosing a writer few people have heard of. I wouldn't be surprised if it is someone writing in Arabic, given the attention on that area of the world recently. I doubt it will be a North American or European. A name I have heard mentioned is Yang Mu, a Taiwanese poet.
DustySpines Sep 26, 2014
I thought I'd post this unpaid endorsement in case any of you collectors would be interested. I just found out a local favorite Brooklyn bookstore has just changed their First Editions club policy to allow half year and continuing memberships. Check it out, particularly since the next few months' selections may be of Pulitzer interest. Their record this year ain't that bad either.
Dalebert Sep 28, 2014
@DustySpines I've been a member of Odyssey Bookshop's first editions club for a number of years and they are great as well. The shipping is cheap and the books come protected with a mylar cover. They've picked the Pulitzer winner a number of times, including the last two years in a row (and they got some of the finalists too). They also have special offers from time to time for other signed books.

I used to be a member of Book Passages club as well, but I found their selections to be not as good. Although, they did get lucky in getting a signed hardcover version of Tinker's just before it won.

Also, Parnassus Books in Nashville has a club as well. Haven't tried them. There seems to be a little more variety in their picks. I'm not a big JK Rowling fan, but it's kind of cool that they were able to get her latest as a signed edition.

Do you know of any other good clubs?
DustySpines Sep 28, 2014
@Dalebert @DustySpines If you have the funds, Powell's Indispensible series has turned out many collectables, though for my money, they often amount to just the books with unimpressive slipcovers. But they pack the books very well and sometimes you get a pretty nice collectable. TInkers, I think, was part of their series and more recently, Richard Power's Orfeo, with a tipped in signature page, was worth the price of admission.
ey814 Sep 30, 2014
@DustySpines @Dalebert I belong to Odyssey's club, Book Passage's Club, and Powell's. They sometimes pick the same book, so that's annoying, until that book wins the Pulitzers, as did Orphan Masters Son, so I ended up with multiple signed copies of the winner. Two of the NBA Longlist books were Book Passage selections this year... An Unnecessary Woman and The UnAmericans, which is cool.
jfieds2 Sep 24, 2014
Two of my top reads of the year made the NBA Long List: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE and REDEPLOYMENT. (I also very much enjoyed THE UNAMERICANS and AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN, all of which I caught before the announcement. Since the list was released, I read STATION ELEVEN -- see thoughts below.) I own ORFEO and hope to get through it, and maybe Robinson before the short list. I hope to make a prediction having read 7 of 10.
JohnZ Sep 21, 2014
Alas, I have yet to read any of the books on the NBA long list, though there are authors represented whose work I admire. I'm glad to see Jane Smiley's "Some Luck" and Marilynne Robinson's "Lila" mentioned. Also Richard Powers's "Orfeo." Each author has produced work that had a profound effect on me: Smiley's "A Thousand Acres," Robinson's "Gilead," and Powers's "The Echo Maker" (it would have been my choice for the Pulitzer in its given year). And, too, Elizabeth McCracken -- an NBA nominee for "The Giant's House" -- also has a book (or rather, a collection of stories) in the running.

As of late, I've been reading a lot of plays and non-fiction. Though most of the discussions on this board regard fiction, I'm wondering if others here also read Pulitzer winners in other categories. For instance, drama. I've read this year's winner, "The Flick" by Annie Baker, and I'm curious if anyone else has, as well. And if so, what he or she thought of it. It's an interesting play, and though I enjoyed it, I found it an odd choice for the Pulitzer. Understand, I'm not saying it isn't deserving; it's just that the story seemed rather thin. Not a lot seems to happen, though much seems to depend on subtext. The best way to describe my reaction to the play is, I think, bemused.

I also went back to a non-fiction winner of the previous year: "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America" by Gilbert King. Along with Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower," Mr. King's book stands as the best non-fiction I've ever read. In fact, it reads better than most fiction. If you haven't read it, I implore you to do so. It's a work from which everyone may benefit. And man, is it gripping! Your hands become as well as glued to the book.

A curious omission I noted on the NBA long list for non-fiction: "Updike" by Adam Begley. I was expecting to see it there, owing to some of the wonderful reviews I have read, as well as the subject -- one of the great writers of his time.

Anyway, it appears as though the literary-awards wheels have been set in motion. It's time to take out our crystal balls and dust them off (ha ha). Happy reading, all.
ey814 Sep 18, 2014
jfieds2 Sep 24, 2014
@EdParks Spectacular book. It should definitely make the short list, and since the National Book Award doesn't trend as American as the Pulitzer, has a definite shot to win.
dm23 Sep 18, 2014
Surprised there was no nomination for "We Are Not Ourselves" or "Fourth of July Creek." Disappointed "American Romantic" didn't make the cut.
BRAKiasaurus Sep 19, 2014
@dm23 Those are surprises to me too! Haven't yet read "WANO" but "FoJC" was just wonderful!
ey814 Sep 19, 2014
@dm23 @BRAKiasaurus I finished Fourth of July Creek a few days ago, and it is at the top of my list for this year's books that I've read. Started We Are not Ourselves, and liking it as well. Alas, I've not read a single one of the NBA finalists, so can't really determine how they compare to these two. I'm interested in Jane Smiley's new one, though it's not out yet, but will turn my reading attention to the NBA longlist books when I finish We Are not Ourselves.
grahammyers Sep 18, 2014
really excited to see John Darnielle's "Wolf in White Van" on the list
ey814 Sep 19, 2014
@grahammyers You liked it I take it? Would be interested in what you see as its strengths.... I just haven't heard much about it before this, though since my son is a Mountain Goats fan, I knew Darnielle was writing a novel
DustySpines Sep 26, 2014
@ey814 yeah but from a curmudgeonly collector perspective, given his celebrity among the youth, signed first printings might be needlessly scarce.
AlexKerner Sep 18, 2014
Here is the NBA long list…a few surprises…a few missing…
AlexKerner Sep 17, 2014
is it just me or does it feel like a weird year so far? to be fair I haven't had a chance to read much from the stock of books being mentioned but the buzz is big wow books that have people gushing over
ey814 Sep 19, 2014
@AlexKerner I agree. The big name books sort of didn't really pan out... some buzz for some debut novels, but in general. This year the NBA longlist may provide more boost to a book than in past years.
AlexKerner Sep 20, 2014
@ey814 although I am intrigued by Station Eleven…distopic novels are not necessarily in favour for these awards but it is nice to see at least this recognition
jfieds2 Sep 24, 2014
@AlexKerner @ey814 I am not a fan of dystopic novels either, but I read STATION ELEVEN over three days. It is very good. Well plotted; a few unexpected twists; some beautiful language. From what I remember of THE DOG STARS, I found this take of the world ravaged by a disease far superior. (I shamefully have never read THE ROAD.) All this said, however, I don't think the book will make the short list or be in the hunt for other awards.
Far_Nor_Cal Sep 16, 2014
My predictions for the NBA longlist on Thursday: I don't have a full 10, but here are 5 guesses

No particular order

Sue Monk Kidd- The invention of Wings

Chang Rae Lee- On Such a Full Sea

Joshua Ferris- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Adam Sternbergh- Shovel Ready

Anthony Doerr- All the Light We Cannot See

Of particular interest to me will be whether or not getting long or short listed for the Booker will affect likelihood of becoming a NBA or Pulitzer finalist. Time will tell.
ey814 Sep 19, 2014
@Far_Nor_Cal I think it's a good thing to watch (whether being short listed for Booker will affect NB/Pulitzer). I do think there's a "well, that book got it's recognition with the 'name of prior award' nomination, so we want to look for something else" kind of phenomenon amongst the various awards. But, Orfeo made the Booker and NBA longlists, so I guess that says something. Ferris was, in my opinion, a bit of a surprise for the Booker... I thought it got a lukewarm reception among reviewers, so will be interested in seeing if it makes any other award list. I don't think Fowler's book is eligible this year for NBA/Pulitzer, the Booker has a slightly different eligibility timeline.
grahammyers Sep 15, 2014
so the National Book Award longlists are being released this week. Fiction is announced Thursday morning. hoping to see some great books on the list!
ey814 Sep 10, 2014
Louise Erdrich awarded PEN/Saul Bellow Award:
BRAKiasaurus Sep 9, 2014
Ben Lerner's latest book looks solid and creative. Donald Atrim's collection might be great if it's anything near as decent as the story he published as a chapbook for California Bookstore Day. While it's not eligible for the pulitzer, I'm curious about "A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing".
grahammyers Sep 15, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus i fully expect Ben Lerner's novel to get an NBA nomination this week considering the reviews were almost unanimously great. Going to read it after I finish the Bone Clocks.
AlexKerner Sep 9, 2014
so what are folks thoughts with the Booker's shortlist today? I have to say that I am generally disappointed, not because of the quality of the work, but because I think the inclusion of American authors I think takes away somewhat from the award and makes it more difficult for authors in the commonwealth to get broader exposure. Also, the exclusion of The Bone Clocks seems a bit outrageous
BRAKiasaurus Sep 4, 2014
Anyone read "Euphoria"? I just started it (found it at the library bookstore in berkeley for $2!)--it's really solid so far, got great reviews...and the one downfall I see right off the bat is that it's not America-themed, I don't believe. In any case, just curious if anyone else enjoyed it. =)
Marybethking Sep 6, 2014
I started it. Had it from the library and couldn't renew it before it was due. I will have to check out again. I really liked what I read.
ey814 Sep 7, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus You'e in Berkeley? My son is in graduate school there. Great, great book town... more used bookstores per square mile than almost any place I know!
BRAKiasaurus Sep 7, 2014
@ey814 Yeah, it's a great place! "Moe's" is a wonderful bookstore. =D
ey814 Aug 14, 2014
Not very active posting lately... my wife and I bought a new home and have been in the process of moving. I've had to pack my Pulitzer collection... something around 4500 books in about 300 U-Haul book boxes. The U-Haul packing paper is supposed to be acid free, so I've lined the boxes with that and made sure they're securely packed. Our new home is an older home, about 100 years old, and I have the chance to build in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, maybe lighting! My chance at a real home library. The house has a lot of windows, which is a nice feature, but limits bookshelf wall space, so the flip side of having a real library is that about a third of my books are having to go into a climate controlled storage unit. I bought about a dozen shelves from a Border's store that was closing, so I'm moving those into the storage unit and shelving the books... it will be my remote library!

My reading has been impacted, and still reading Fourth of July Creek. It's definitely my favorite book for the year so far. Looking forward to the September 10 announcement of the NBA longlist.
DustySpines Sep 26, 2014
@ey814 wow terrific. let us know how it goes since I'm sure many of us fantasize about such a home library. I had sucess moving a portion of my collection across the country a few yrs back with my patented secret "first edition moving technique." But I hope not to have to do that more than once or twice more in my life. Very nerve wracking.
BRAKiasaurus Aug 14, 2014
Anyone read this? I picked it up the other day. Seems very focused on modern life in China, but Livings has won Best American Stories, Pushcart Prize, and is an Iowa Writers Workshop graduate--all of these could make it a contender, in my mind.

The Dog: Stories ~ Jack Livings (author) More about this product List Price: Price: You Save:
ey814 Sep 10, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Maybe not good timing on this... Joseph O'Neill's new novel is out and titled The Dog! Further thoughts on Livings' The Dog? I heard O'Neill interviewed about his The Dog... sounds good. He won the PEN/Faulkner for his last novel, Netherlands, and I saw him at a reading... really nice guy. I don't recall our conversation that year about his eligibility for the National Book Award or Pulitzer... he's Irish, but has lived in the US (NYC) for a while. The Dog is set in Dubai, so probably not much of a Pulitzer option even if he is a US Citizen.
Dalebert Aug 5, 2014
Does anybody know of a good resource for finding how many copies were produced in the first print run for a given book? Is there a database out there somewhere?
jfieds2 Aug 8, 2014
@Dalebert Very often it is not announced. Sometimes Publishers Weekly or another publishing trade resource will mention an "announced first printing of ___". I think it would take someone who made a personal effort to comb through the different resources in order to have a record. But then again, often times, publishers just do not say.
ey814 Sep 7, 2014
@Dalebert I thought I had posted a response to this, but don't see it. Some Advance Reading (or Readers) Copies and/or Uncorrected Proofs list the print run for the first edition as part of the marketing information. Not always, but often enough to be worth checking.
Far_Nor_Cal Jul 31, 2014
Just finished Lee's On Such A Full Sea. I liked it quite a bit better than most who've mentioned it here. I thought I was an interesting premise, and the narrative structure, being told through the "we" was unique and for me it worked. I actually liked this novel more than I did The Surrendered, which I thought declined in its final 1/3.

Currently reading the Booker long listed We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Fowler. I'm about a third of the way in and am very much enjoying it. I'm often confused about timetables for the various awards, but I think this one would have been judged for the Pulitzer for this year's award.
grahammyers Jul 29, 2014
i'm interested to see what books are selected for the National Book Award longlist. hoping to see the newest books from Richard Ford, Jane Smiley, Denis Johnson, and Donald Atrim. Who else?
BRAKiasaurus Jul 29, 2014
@grahammyers When is it announced?
grahammyers Jul 30, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers September 1
BRAKiasaurus Jul 30, 2014
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus Any books you've read so far that you'd like to see nominated?
grahammyers Jul 31, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers almost done with Matthew Thomas' "We Are Not Ourselves". I think it will be nominated because it's epic in scope and character. Not a lot happens though. About to start Jane Smiley's "Some Luck". Heard great things about it.
ey814 Jul 31, 2014
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus Nothing I've read so far strikes me as being a likely finalist, even on the long list, except that I'm a few chapters into Fourth of July Creek by Henderson Smith, and based upon what I've read so far and the response from readers on this discussion board, I'd wager it will be on the long list. I'll be excited to read Ford's new one, and, like you, I'm hearing good things about Jane Smiley's 'Some Luck,' which is apparently the first of a trilogy. Marilynne Robinson's third book in the Gilead cycle (Lila) is out later this Fall, but since it will be eligible, I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up, just because it's Marilynne Robinson!
grahammyers Aug 1, 2014
@ey814 my longlist of 10 would look like this (not necessarily one's i have read; just who i suspect will be on it based on past finalists, in no particular order, although there will surely be some surprises):

1. Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2. The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

3. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

4. Some Luck by Jane Smiley

5. Orfeo by Richard Powers

6. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

7. Family Life by Akhil Sharma

8. A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin

9. Before, During, After by Richard Baush

10. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
BRAKiasaurus Aug 1, 2014
@grahammyers @ey814 I think "Fourth of July Creek" is going to make it onto that longlist. It's really fantastic.

How did you like (if you read) "The Book of Unknown Americans"?
grahammyers Aug 1, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @grahammyers @ey814 haven't read 'the book of unknown americans' yet but it got really positive reviews. i'm having the hardest time getting through Matthew Thomas's debut though. it's incredibly boring and depressing.
AlexKerner Aug 6, 2014
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I must say that I find Richard Ford's books dreadfully boring (having only read Canada and the Sportswriter though). I am not sure what the fan fare is about his writing, because it is plodding and just all out plain. So to the point…I hope he is not on any long list this year ;)
jfieds2 Aug 8, 2014
@grahammyers @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 I started a galley of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES months ago and tabled it. If it gets any nominations, I might plod through, but I couldn't help but feel it was in need of more editing.
ey814 Sep 7, 2014
@grahammyers What was your final take on We are Not Ourselves? It's getting a lot of buzz, seems to me. Have you read Some Luck yet? Thoughts if you have?
BRAKiasaurus Sep 10, 2014
@ey814 I picked it up--I will be seeing Thomas when he does a book signing at Book passage soon. I have high hopes...I think I'm very likely to enjoy it, as I enjoyed "someone" and "All That Is" immensely....just sounds up my alley. We'll see!
BRAKiasaurus Jul 23, 2014
ey814 Jul 23, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Didn't you think the four American books selected were... well, unexpected?
michijake Jul 23, 2014
@ey814 @BRAKiasaurus It's definitely an interesting list! Does anyone know what the cutoff date was for books to be eligible? I was expecting "Lila" by Marilynne Robinson to show up but perhaps it won't be eligible until next year. I know in the past British books that hadn't yet been published sometimes showed up on the long list, but maybe that changed with the new rules.
MichaelRuddon Jul 24, 2014
@michijake @ey814 @BRAKiasaurus The Booker year is October to September, so you are right that Lila would be eligible for next year. Notice how The Goldfinch was eligible and did not even make the longlist
BRAKiasaurus Jul 26, 2014
@michijake @ey814 @BRAKiasaurus I believe the cut off is simply based on when it was published in Britain. "Lila" would likely be a candidate next year instead.
BRAKiasaurus Jul 24, 2014
@ey814 @BRAKiasaurus I haven't read any of the four that were selected, but I'm not surprised that Joseph O'Neill was selected. Nor am I surprised by Siri Hustvedt's novel--which I've started but not yet completed. That said, I will be shocked if David Mitchell gets slighted yet again for the prize...
AlexKerner Jul 24, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 i think it is fair to say Mitchell is the favourite and the gossip is that the book is wonderful.
Dalebert Jul 23, 2014
Booker Prize longlist has been announced. This is the first year they are opening the award up to anyone who writes in English. A few American authors have been included:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North,Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent's Tail)

The Blazing World,Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)

J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)

The Wake,Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)

The Bone Clocks,David Mitchell (Sceptre)

The Lives of Others,Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)

Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Dog,Joseph O'Neill (Fourth Estate)

Orfeo,Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)

How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

History of the Rain,Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)
BRAKiasaurus Jul 7, 2014
BRAKiasaurus Jul 7, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Ben Lerner has a new book--wasn't aware of it until today. Has one good review on goodreads, but I'm very curious to see what that book's like.
AlexKerner Jun 26, 2014
in case folks missed Amazon's best books of the year so far
BRAKiasaurus Jun 21, 2014
Has anyone read "A Replacement Life"? Getting some star reviews, including one in the NY Times that compared Fishman to Malamud and his novel to "The Fixer" (which, of course, won the pulitzer and is a wonderful book).
jfieds2 Jun 17, 2014
I'll throw out a book that I just read as a galley but I did not see on any preview lists, I don't think -- HIGH AS THE HORSES BRIDLES by Scott Cheshire. It takes places in Queens, New York in the 1980s and then California and Queens post-9/11 (with an epilogue, titled as a "prologue" in Kentucky in 1800-something (don't have the book by me)). The protagonist, Josiah Laudermilk, was born into a fundamental/revivalist/evangelical (I am not sure of the right term) faith community, and becomes the unwitting mouthpiece of an apocalyptic prophesy at age 12, before leaving the faith, and the East Coast, as a young adult. He returns, a few years after his mother's death, to his father's mental and physical decline. His father also has a renewed interest in faith/prophesy, but obviously with an underlying mental illness. The writing is strong and the issues -- faith, family, community, old age, mental illness -- are large for a fairly compact book. I enjoyed it a lot.
BRAKiasaurus Jul 16, 2014
@jfieds2 I picked it up--so I'm very curious what it's like!
Far_Nor_Cal Jun 15, 2014
Recently finished Orfeo by Powers. A very esoteric read that often times left me feeling like a kid at the grown-ups table. Would be really helpful to have a strong music theory and music history background to understand the novel, but even without, the prose is beautiful and the story interesting and certainly unique. I could see this being a surprise finalist, especially with Powers being the author, but I don't see it as a winner.
ey814 Jul 23, 2014
@Far_Nor_Cal Orfeo made the longlist for the Booker, so that confirms your observations.
Marybethking Jun 15, 2014
The Enchanted might be on my list of nominees. From left field, but a very good read.
BRAKiasaurus Jun 22, 2014
@Marybethking Magical realism? What's it like?
Marybethking Jul 8, 2014
A story that moves beyond the confines of the criminal justice system into a novel faster than the cover horses. Whoever in marketing/ reviewer who compared the writing to Stephen King or Alice Seabold didn't do this novel any favors. I'm fairly confident that I found a nominee here.
ey814 Jun 11, 2014
Been traveling quite a bit, so not posting, but for me, traveling means getting some reading done! I would say that nothing I've read from this year has bowled me over yet. I finished Dinaw Mengestew's All Our Names. I thought it was well written, but perhaps I've read too many immigrant-experience stories lately... the alternating scenes in All Our Names between the US and Africa reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland, and although they're different stories, the scenes in the US remind me of Mengestu's last book, How to Breathe the Air. I am 1/3 of the way through Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, and it seems to have bogged down... I'm having a hard time caring about the characters. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I'm finding myself indifferent about what happens to them. We'll see, maybe it will get better... I liked the first couple of chapters. Also, I'm 7/8 of my way through Chang-Rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea and I join the ranks of those who have indicated they were disappointed. Boy, talk about not caring about what a character does... that's my experience here. I usually agree with Ron Charles, the Washington Post book critic, and he sung the praises of this book as a dystopian novel in the league with 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale (, but this time, I'm siding more with Michiko Kakutani's review in the NY Times ( ... “On Such a Full Sea” often reads like a ham-handed mash-up of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games."

Anyone else have thoughts about these three books?
Marybethking Jun 12, 2014
I read 'On Such a Full Sea,' I was confused from the beginning. She worked with fish, but they were smart fish. A bunch of third grade gobbledygook that only a second time writer can get away with. I also read 'Natchez Burning,' a screenplay not a novel.
BRAKiasaurus Jun 13, 2014
@Marybethking Completely disagree that it was confusing or that it was third grade gobbledegook. However, the use of "we" is off-putting and its use to craft a mythology is, while interesting, off-putting. It keeps the reader at a remove. It's an interesting exercise, but it didn't work for me.
BRAKiasaurus Jun 13, 2014
@ey814 I recommend that you try "fourth of july creek" 1/4 of the way through this big debut, and it's really engaging...and Ron Charles (your most trusted critic, as I recall) loved it. Give it a shot!
BRAKiasaurus Jun 25, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus @ey814 It was beautiful, a really perfect novel as far as I'm concerned. I don't know if it will win the pulitzer, but I could definitely see it being a contender or a finalist; additionally, I will be fairly shocked if it doesn't show up as a finalist or winner for any of the other major literary awards.

It was truly a great read, a good novel, and the ending was good. Couldn't put it down, loved every minute of it. =D
Marybethking Jun 15, 2014
A good writer never approaches the pulpit directly.
BRAKiasaurus Jun 7, 2014
I realize I may be late to the party here, but I picked up "Fourth of July Creek" today after reading Ron Charles' glowing review of it: And although we have had discussions about taking the blurbs with a grain of salt, there were some glowing blurbs on this book, as well....worth a shot, I guess.

I realize that some have had mixed feelings about the book, but I just thought I'd mention that I'm going to give it a go. =D Has anyone else worked through it yet?
BRAKiasaurus Jun 9, 2014
@EdParks @BRAKiasaurus Only about 70 pages in, but it has me really captivated so far.
jfieds2 Jun 16, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @EdParks I am going to have to revisit FOURTH OF JULY CREEK later in the year. As I had said, I was disappointed, but my expectations were *outrageously* high. Also, our reactions to art are definitely colored by our overall mood in life, and I was in rather a major funk when I read this novel, so my reactions should be taken with a grain of salt. I trust Ron Charles, very much, and am happy that he liked it. It is certainly ambitious.
BRAKiasaurus Jun 28, 2014
@jfieds2 @BRAKiasaurus @EdParks Having just finished it a week ago, I thought it was AMAZING--really worked for me. Again, not sure if it'd be a pulitzer winner, but I could see it as a finalist and think it will potentially do well during the awards season.
CoryDonnelly May 30, 2014
I have been consistently disappointed with the fiction I have read this year. Maybe I was spoiled from all the amazing novels last year, but everything I have read so far has been a bit lackluster. That being said, I just finished The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol and I it's my favorite work of fiction I have read so far. "The Quietest Man", "A Difficult Phase", and "The Unknown Soldier" are all beautifully written short stories. The UnAmericans gave me a desire to read one of my favorite books ever again, The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake again (Please grab a copy if you can, it's mind-blowing good), and after that I'm going to get started on All The Light We Cannot See and then maybe Ruby
BRAKiasaurus Jul 21, 2014
@EdParks @CoryDonnelly Until you finally get to the fall (when many of the major books tend to hit the shelves), "All the Light We Cannot See" seems promising. So does "The Replacement Life"...

I think last year was an anomaly due to the election of the previous year. Many books, including Margaret Atwood's novel and Paul Harding's, were due out in 2012 but were postponed. I'm STILL working my way through some of the novels I meant to read from last year: & Sons, The Lowlands, and Constellation of Vital Phenomena, for example.
jfieds2 May 28, 2014
I cannot imagine that I will read a better novel this year than ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. It is stunning. It is so beautiful -- on the sentence level -- that I almost wanted to read some sections aloud to hear the beauty of the prose, and yet it also has a compelling narrative that makes the pages turn easily; I would say almost too easily, since at times I glossed over some of the lyrical beauty to fast forward the plot.

Still, as has been mentioned, this is a WWII novel, completely set in Europe, with European characters. Unless it turns out to be an especially weak year for American-centric novels, this one might have a hard time going all the way.

One thing I thought about, however, is with American authors now eligible for the Booker, this could be a prime contender. It would allow the judges to expand their playing field, while still honoring a "European" novel, which despite being written by an American, I might argue this is, in tone as well as subject.
BRAKiasaurus May 28, 2014
@jfieds2 I have it queued up--can't wait to read it!
BRAKiasaurus May 17, 2014
Anyone know if In the Light of What We Know: A Novel Hardcoverby Zia Haider Rahman is eligible for the Pulitzer? It's a debut and just got a great review in The New Yorker.
ey814 May 22, 2014

Born in rural Bangladesh, Zia Haider Rahman was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and at Cambridge, Munich, and Yale Universities. He has worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and as an international human rights lawyer. In the Light of What We Know is his first novel.

Hard to tell...
BRAKiasaurus May 22, 2014
@ey814 @BRAKiasaurus Yeah, I thought the same. I think he might be British, but hard to know for sure.
wpk May 12, 2014
I just finished reading Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. It is based on the 1960's to current day Natchez along with Concordia Parish, LA just across the Mississippi River. It has racial tensions consistent with that era, an elite splinter cell of the KKK that far exceeds the horrors one would expect, and the past coming back to bear on them in modern times. Plenty of facts mixed with fiction.

Greg Iles almost died 5 years ago in a major car accident and this is his first book back. Iles clearly knows his Southern authors as several prominent authors including some that own Pulitzer's of their own are woven into the story in subtle but intriguing ways including Donna Tartt, Robert Penn Warren, Michael Shaara, and Shelby Foote. All the King's Men and Killer Angels were specifically mentioned.

It has the feeling of an award winning book. 800 pages that just can't be put down. I've read all of Iles previous books and while I enjoyed them all, this one is clearly his best to date.
BRAKiasaurus May 10, 2014
After seeing it here and reading up on it, I've become increasingly interested in: We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel Seems like a very promising (Pulitzer-worthy) debut.

I'm going to repeat something I have said before now: last year was an anomaly, a strangely strong year for the novel, caused by the 2012 election. According to Margaret Atwood, north american fiction sales are overwhelmed by the various political books during an election, so publishers will often postpone publication by a year. (This squares with the fact that "Enon", Paul Harding's novel, was--if Amazon's dates are to be trusted--postponed a year.) This may account for why 2013 was so incredibly strong from start to finish. (It is also why I think a book like George Saunders' had, despite all its momentum, very little real chance at winning the 2014 Pulitzer.) Last year was the year of the BIG NOVEL, most of them published by BIG PUBLISHERS, and that was incredibly fun (though I'm still catching up on my 2013 reading list and will be for quite awhile).

I think this year is going to represent a return to "normalcy" (to use Woodrow Wilson's phrase), and as such--given the list of what is due to be published--I think we're much more likely to see either a repeat (Marilynne Robinson), a debut (Matthew Thomas), a short story collection (Lorrie Moore) or a small press winner than we were last year. I think this also may call into question how important the "American themes" thing is--you could, for example, see Doerr's novel (which I haven't yet read) do very well.
BRAKiasaurus May 11, 2014
(I mention Wilson, by the way, because I enjoyed the irony of using his word to evoke a return to a world where politics doesn't hold sway over literature. Ha!)
JulianMortimer Jun 19, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus It was Warren G Harding, not Woodrow Wilson who coined the phrase "return to normalcy"
jfieds2 May 13, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I am reading a galley of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES and enjoying it, overall. Still, I am finding it a bit tedious and overwritten. A different reader might feel differently, however. Thomas is talented and it is definitely a "Pulitzer-type" book. It am going to finish it, but I find myself going back to other books I am reading more. My book of the year so far is REDEPLOYMENT. This is the best Iraq (and some Afghanistan) war writing I have read yet. Better the BILLY LYNN and THE YELLOW BIRDS. I am not sure if it can take the Pulitzer, but it's a must read, regardless.
grahammyers May 10, 2014
just starting Peter Heller's 'The Painter.' heard good things about it.
Far_Nor_Cal May 8, 2014
Just finished Andrew's Brain by Doctorow. A very interesting read. It's fairly NYC-centric, and isn't that half the Pulitzer battle? I enjoyed it, but would be somewhat surprised to see it as a pulitzer finalist.
DouglasFeil May 8, 2014
I've read three potential candidates this year: Akhil Sharma's "Family Life", Bret Anthony Johnston's "Remember Me Like This", and Molly Antopol's "The UnAmericans". Actually, Antopol may have been published in 2013. I'm not sure. Of those, I think Sharma's is best, and it includes an elegiac section devoted to Hemingway that I think would be perfect for a Pulitzer winner. Other contenders I haven't seen mentioned on here:

Chang-rae Lee "On Such a Full Sea"

Robert Coover "The Brunist Day of Wrath"

Mona Simpson "Casebook"

Alexi Zentner "The Lobster Kings"

Nickolas Butler "Shotgun Lovesongs"

Richard Powers "Orfeo"

Rivka Galchen "American Innovations"

Stuart Dybeck's short story collection

Ismael Beah "Radiance of Tomorrow"

Chris Abani "The Secret History of Las Vegas"

Antonya Nelson "Funny Once"

I can't imagine Richard Powers not getting some Pulitzer consideration based on the critical reception of "Orfeo" and his many past nominations.
ey814 May 7, 2014
Some interesting, and not that well known, PEN Foundation awards longlists were announced to day (from

The long list for the PEN Literary Awards is out--more than 80 titles, selected by 50 judges. The shortlist will be announced June 17, and the 18 award winners will be announced on July 30. The awards ceremony will be September 29. Here's the big long fabulous list, with links to our reviews, when available.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard


A History of the Present Illness (Bloomsbury), Louise Aronson Middle Men (Simon & Schuster), Jim Gavin Bogotá (TriQuarterly Books), Alan Grostephan The Morels (Soho Press Inc.), Christopher Hacker A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra We All Sleep In the Same Room (Rare Bird Books, A Barnacle Book), Paul Rome Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel Godforsaken Idaho (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Shawn Vestal The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn


Southern Cross the Dog (Ecco), Bill Cheng Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster The Cineaste (W.W. Norton & Company), A. Van Jordan domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley A Tale for the Time Being (Viking Adult), Ruth Ozeki Visiting Hours at the Color Line (Milkweed Editions), Ed Pavlić Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi
ey814 May 7, 2014
And, just to point out, since they're all pertaining to books published in 2013 (for which the 2014 Pulitzer has been awarded), they're of absolutely no use in predicting the Pulitzer prize for the year :-) If they go back far enough, which none that I've looked at so far do, I could add a "author past winner of PEN/XYZ award variable, though those types of variables don't seem to help much in the predication model.
Scott S May 8, 2014

This post sent me digging around on a few of the PEN sites, and I noticed that former PEN/Hemingway winner Brigid Pasulka has recently published a new novel titled "The Sun and Other Stars". Perhaps one to watch?
BRAKiasaurus May 8, 2014
@Scott S I haven't read her previous novel, though I feel that (at times) the Pen Hemingway Award winners have been as good as, if not better, then the pulitzer winner (and/) or finalists of any given year. Really strong books tend to win--I would, for example, put up Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, against any book written that year. Just a stellar collection...

I think the only question worth posing (regarding her being a viable candidate for the Pulitzer) is: how important will the American theme question be this year? That said, the Doerr novel is also getting a lot of good buzz and is one to watch; and yet, it's not about American life at all.
ey814 May 8, 2014
@Scott S I always include past PEN/Hemingway winners on the "to watch" list. Marilynne Robinson, Edward P. Jones, and Jhumpa Lahiri all won the PEN/Hemingway and then won the Pulitzer (though only Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer win was for the same book that won the PEN/Hemingway award). Other past PEN/Hemingway winners that won a few years ago and have become seasoned writers and perennial candidates for a Pulitzer include Ha Jin and Chang-Rae Lee. And then you have a slew of still early in their career writers who won who are in the "keep and eye on" and "buy their books before the win and prices go up category" include Yiyn Li, Teju Cole, Ben Fountain and a couple of others. Both being a past winner of the PEN/Hemingway and your book being nominated or winning it that year are variables in the prediction model, since the awards go back to 1976.
jfieds2 May 13, 2014
@Scott S I loved Brigid Pasulka's first novel, which took place completely in Poland, in two time periods, WWII and the 90s (I think). Her new novel, takes place completely in Italy, in basically the present day. It's a nice read, but I didn't love it as much as the first, and it is not a Pulitzer contender, at all.
Marybethking May 6, 2014
Ok. I usually find all of my reading in the best of the month on All of the 2014 nominees and winner were listed on their picks of the month.
BRAKiasaurus May 4, 2014
Has anyone read: "The Other Language" by Francesca Marciano? It seems like a promising collection. Anthony Doerr's novel also seems like it might be a strong book--although it will not be focused on American life.
kas1985 May 5, 2014
In the few minutes of research I did, it appears that Francesca Marciano is Italian, so not eligible for the Pulitzer.

By the way, this is my first post here on the site, but I have been lurking here for several years and have found the input from those here to be of immense value. So, thank you to all who contribute here, and hopefully I will be able to add to the community as well!
tklein27 May 5, 2014
@kas1985 Welcome aboard.
dm23 May 4, 2014
I can't remember if this one has been discussed but Jonathan Yardley from the Washington Post wrote that Ward Just's American Romantic was the best work of American fiction he's read in years.
ey814 May 4, 2014
@dm23 I saw the review as well, and think Ward Just is someone to watch. Plus, "American Romantic" just sounds like a Pulitzer winning book title :-) (aka American Pastoral!). Definitely on my read list, will look forward to hearing what others think about it and how it stands up to is earlier work.
BRAKiasaurus May 4, 2014
@ey814 @dm23 I picked up an ARC a few months back--planning to read it soon!
grahammyers May 3, 2014
my most anticipated for the rest of the year (pulitzer eligible). anyone got any advance word on any of these potential gems?

1. The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

2. Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford

3. Last Stories and Other Stories by William Vollmann

4. Lila by Marilynne Robinson

5. Your Fathers... by Dave Eggers

6. The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Atrim

7. 10:04 by Ben Lerner

8. Perfidia by James Ellroy

9. Some Luck by Jane Smiley

10. The Painter by Peter Heller

11. Before, During, After by Richard Bausch

12. A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin

13. Back Channel by Stephen L. Carter
ey814 May 3, 2014
@grahammyers I didn't know Johnson had a new one scheduled for the year... know anything about it? Lila is the third in the Gilead/Home sequence; Some Luck is the first novel in a trilogy by Smiley... again, I didn't know Ha Jin had a new one coming out, any info on it?
grahammyers May 3, 2014
@ey814 @grahammyers the Johnson: A post-9/11 literary spy thriller from the National Book Award–winning author of Tree of Smoke

Roland Nair calls himself Scandinavian but travels on a U.S. passport. After ten years’ absence, he returns to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to reunite with his friend Michael Adriko. They once made a lot of money here during the country’s civil war, and, curious to see whether good luck will strike twice in the same place, Nair allows himself to be drawn back to a region he considers hopeless. Adriko is an African who styles himself a soldier of fortune and who claims to have served, at various times, the Ghanaian army, the Kuwaiti Emiri Guard, and the American Green Berets. He’s probably broke now, but he remains, at thirty-six, as stirred by his own doubtful schemes as he was a decade ago. Although Nair believes some kind of money-making plan lies at the back of it all, Adriko’s stated reason for inviting his friend to Freetown is for Nair to meet Adriko’s fiancée, a college girl named Davidia from Colorado. Together the three set out to visit Adriko’s clan in the Uganda-Congo borderland—but each of these travelers is keeping secrets from the others. Shadowed by Interpol, the Mossad, and MI6, Nair gets mired in lust and betrayal in a landscape of frighteningly casual violence as he travels with Adriko and Davidia, gets smuggled into a war zone, gets kidnapped by the Congo Army, and is terrorized by a self-proclaimed god ruling over a dying village. Their journey through a land abandoned by the future leads Adriko, Nair, and Davidia to meet themselves not in a new light, but rather in a new darkness. A high-suspense tale of kaleidoscoping loyalties in the post-9/11 world, Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters shows one of our great novelists at the top of his game. the Ha Jin: From the award-winning author of Waiting: a spare, haunting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries—China and the United States—and two families as it explores the complicated terrain of love and honor. When Lilian Shang, born and raised in America, discovers her father’s diary after the death of her parents, she is shocked by the secrets it contains. She knew that her father, Gary, convicted decades ago of being a mole in the CIA, was the most important Chinese spy ever caught. But his diary—an astonishing chronicle of his journey from 1949 Shanghai to Okinawa to Langley, Virginia—reveals the pain and longing that his double life entailed. The trail leads Lilian to China, to her father’s long-abandoned other family, whose existence she and her Irish American mother never suspected. As Lilian begins to fathom her father’s dilemma—torn between loyalty to his motherland and the love he came to feel for his adopted country—she sees how his sense of duty distorted his life. But as she starts to understand that Gary, too, had been betrayed, she finds that it is up to her to prevent his tragedy from damaging yet another generation of her family.
ey814 May 4, 2014
@grahammyers Thanks... both sound like "must read novels." Certainly doesn't sound like a toss off!
BRAKiasaurus May 3, 2014
@ey814 @grahammyers Johnson has described it--if I recall correctly--as a thriller.
ey814 May 4, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @ey814 @grahammyers Sort of a toss off like that noir thing he did a couple of years ago, or something more serious?
Marybethking May 2, 2014
I always look forward to the best of the month from amazon. But, this board knocks it out of the park with new stuff. I just finished 'Lonesome Dove,' 'Olive Kitterage,' and 'A Thousand Acres.' Now, back to the best and brightest in contemporary stuff!!
ey814 May 3, 2014
@Marybethking Okay, what did you think of Lonesome Dove? (It's one of my favorites).
Marybethking May 6, 2014
Loved it! Then, I tried to watch the mini series. I couldn't get into it because they just weren't who I thought they should be if that makes any sense? When you spend 500 plus pages with a character, you really get to know them.
ey814 May 6, 2014
@Marybethking Luckily, there's a prequel (Dead Man's Walk) and two sequels (Streets of Laredo, Comanche Moon) that are based around the same characters :-) None of these were as good as Lonesome Dove, but I wasn't ready to leave the Dove characters behind, so was glad to have these additional books!
tylerg98 May 2, 2014
Thanks everyone for steering me away from Fourth of July Creek. I was excited when I got the arc, but read a really negative review in Publisher's Weekly, and now probably won't read it unless I am mightily compelled.

Other books on my radar:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Redeployment by Phil Klay--story collection that's been called the best fiction written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose--not a very Pulitzer setting, but sounds very interesting

And I saw The Dog, Lila, and the new Jane Smiley mentioned below.

Didn't really like: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

Really didn't like: The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

Liked quite a bit: Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

I'm reading the MS of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks right now, and if he was American and not British I'd say we could pack it in because he'd have the Pulitzer in the bag. Definitely a strong contender for the Man-Booker/NBCC though. If y'all get the chance to snag an advanced copy do it.
ey814 May 3, 2014
@tylerg98 Man, you are way ahead in reading this year's crop! Cunningham's Snow Queen got a rave review in the NYT, but a ho-hum review in the Washington Post. Too bad. I think I need to push Astonish Me up on my list. I didn't like Seating Arrangements, but sounds like this one is better. As soon as I finish Mengestu's All Our Names, I'll start on Shipsteads's. I thought Ferris's second book, The Unnamed, was pretty bad. It's disappointing to hear that To Rise Again at a Decent Hour doesn't return him to "Then We Came to the End" levels.
BRAKiasaurus May 3, 2014
@ey814 @tylerg98 May I ask what you disliked about "The Snow Queen"? Did you like "By Nightfall"? I'm trying to gauge how much I will enjoy his latest.
ey814 May 4, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I haven't read it, so will let @tylerg98 tell you what he disliked about it, but Ron Charles did a review that described his areas of dissatisfaction:
tylerg98 May 4, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus The writing was too florid for me. It had its moments, but more often than not I wasn't enjoying the language. And what Ron Charles said is true: most of the plot happens offscreen, so I mostly felt connected to the characters, but weirdly distanced from what was happening to them. I didn't read "By Nightfall" but "The Hours" is one of my favorite books, so I was really trying to like "The Snow Queen."
BRAKiasaurus May 4, 2014
@tylerg98 @BRAKiasaurus I thought "By Nightfall" was among the best books I read the year it was published. It's a quiet book, but just wonderful--it sounds like Charles liked it as well, but found this book both similar and less sucessful.
jfieds2 May 19, 2014
@ey814 Mike, please do push ASTONISH ME up your list. It is really quite good. I liked it much more than SEATING ARRANGEMENTS, which I liked a fair bit, but did share your feelings on. The new novel is just as beautifully written, if not more, and it doesn't have the problems that you found with the first. I'm not certain if ASTONISH ME has the depth and complexity that I would like to see from a Pulitzer (or on the other side of the spectrum the tight, understatedness of a book like TINKERS), but it really is a must read, regardless.
jfieds2 May 19, 2014
@ey814 Also, the new Ferris got a pretty negative review in The New Republic, which received a lot of attention on Twitter, due more to the headline than the review itself. There was much questioning whether the reviewer wrote/approved the headline -- likely not -- because it really makes the review out to be worse than it is. It originally read "Joshua Ferris's New Novel Ought to Destroy His Reputation," but has since been changed to "Joshua Ferris's New Novel Is as Boring as it Sounds." Still, the book also got a very positive review by Ron Charles, who I trust immensely, so there are always other opinions out there. That said, it doesn't sound like the right kind of book to be winning any awards.
Arcticsound21 May 1, 2014
Has anyone read Yiyun Li's Kinder Than Solitude? My favorite novel of the year so far and I feel the pulitzer jury is overdue to award an Asian American author. Indian-Americans having already been represented, so not counting Ms. Lahiri in my previous statement.
ey814 May 2, 2014
@Arcticsound21 Haven't read it yet, but it's on my "need to read list." Li seems like a strong candidate and if the book is good (certainly got good reviews in the NYT and Washington Post) it will be one to watch.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 28, 2014 This book "Starting Over" by Elizabeth Spencer seems like a book worth considering.
JohnZ Apr 30, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus If the book's good, I think Ms. Spencer has a wonderful chance of winning. In fact, she would already have a Pulitzer Prize if, in the year of it release, the board had listened to the jury's recommendation that her novel "The Voice at the Back Door" be given the fiction prize. The board had other ideas, apparently, and went with a "No Award" instead.

So: yes. Definitely one to watch.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 30, 2014
@JohnZ @BRAKiasaurus Oh good catch! I didn't even check the histories (thank you, google books) to see if her name had come up in the past. Really good call.
david2012 Apr 27, 2014
How did Jennifer Egan win the Pulitzer for such a horrible novel?
Marybethking May 2, 2014
Have to disagree with you on that one. That book could win the Pulitzer for the next ten years and I would not be in the 2014 funk that I am now!
JpCambert May 4, 2014
@david2012 I didn't care for it either.
JohnZ May 7, 2014
@david2012 From the Pulitzer site:

An inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed.

While A Visit from the Good Squad is not my favorite Pulitzer winning novel, I didn't despise it. As the above citation observed, the book is inventive, and the labyrinthine way in which characters connect was smart. Perhaps too smart. Often what readers desire, I think, is to become lost in the characters' psyches and worlds; but with Good Squad, it was difficult to forget you were watching some sleight-of-hand literary trick played with words instead of Russian Dolls.

That said, there were moments during which I was unable to get lost in the story -- or stories, I should say. Some of the descriptions were a bit too literary (I hesitate to say Ms. Egan was being a smug show-off), and I imagined the writer sitting in a chair, holding pen and paper, considering what would seem the most impressive marriage of words, as if she were one of the star pupils of a writing workshop out to gain the approval and edification of her teacher and peers. (In fact, I'm reminded of the title of an earlier book Ms. Egan wrote: Look at Me.)

Marrying words in the best possible way isn't a bad thing, of course; many writers aspire to this. However, with the absence of a real connection with any of the characters (especially Sasha and Bennie), all the dazzle and witty turns of phrase felt a little hollow. There was certainly concentration of form, yet depth of content suffered for it. One reads about these people without being offered a chance to engage with them. Sasha steals things from others; Bennie sprinkles gold flakes in his coffee. Fine. All right. But these are gestures; surface stuff. What about what's happening under the surface? Ms. Egan describes some of that, but at a distance. As a result, one feels more like a distant spectator to the story (or stories) rather than one -- feeling engaged by and invested in the characters and their lives -- who is an active participant.

Too, this is a book that is interested in playing with the various elements to be found in metafiction. In one story, Ms. Egan even parodies David Foster Wallace, taking up considerable space by injecting dense footnotes. And of course there is the Power Point chapter, which is interesting in a kind of dry, esoteric way.

So, yes: it is inventive. Yet what is the purpose of the invention itself? To show the myriad permutations through which literature has gone? Or can go? A way of twisting and reinventing language (goodness, in the last story, a new form of language and communication is presented!)?

And while it has been touted for its dissection of postmodernism, it also has been considered a rather traditional novel similar to the works of Dickens. Is it one? Is it the other? Is it both? Were it that more of the characters had engaged me, I might have been more fascinated by such questions. As it was, I went along for the ride (just another "Passenger," wink wink) because I do think Ms. Egan has talent, though a number of the characters seemed removed -- more literary constructs than real human beings -- and comprised of hard, shiny plastic rather than pliable, sweating flesh and bone.

But where it works ("Ask Me If I Care" / "Safari" / "Out of Body," which is my favorite story or chapter), it works well. And here and there rose a sharp description that gave me pause. I don't know if I'd read it again from start to finish (or A to B, as it is), but now and then I have gone back and dipped here and there, revisiting those moments I enjoyed, ignoring those which left me unimpressed by their clear artifice.

That said, I don't think it's an utterly awful book -- the beguiling glimmers here and there prevent it from being so easily dismissed. I think Ms. Egan is giving us a clue in the opening epithet (from Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time) as to what she is attempting, but does she pull it off? Partially, maybe; though not altogether.

Certainly it's an ambitious book. Which isn't bad. But if the characters had been given more depth, it might have been a great one.

So: a curious choice from the Pulitzer jury. Though not, I think, their worst choice(s.)
ey814 Apr 25, 2014
An interesting piece on the effect of winning the Pulitzer on book sales:
grahammyers Apr 23, 2014
I'm reading an ARC of Roxane Gay's, "An Untamed State." Most of it concerns Haitian society, but the protagonist is American and deals with a lot of her inner life and PTSD. Anyone think this will be on the Pulitzer radar?
Scott S Apr 22, 2014
Does anyone have Peter Matthiessen's "In Paradise" on their radar? I saw that Mike mentioned "Shadow Country" below. I haven't read any of his works, but I've heard great things about him. I am doubly intrigued to read "Shadow Country" after seeing the blurb on the back from my favorite living poet, W. S. Merwin.

I'm also looking forward to Marilynne Robinson's "Lila", as has already been discussed here. I loved "Gilead", but found "Home" to be dull. Hopefully she bounces back.
ey814 Apr 23, 2014
@Scott S I picked up an ARC of In Paradise, though it's getting somewhat mixed reviews and the setting (in Auschwitz) seems outside of Pulitzer-setting range (though, who knows these days!). I'll read it, certainly (and you should definitely read Shadow Country!).
Scott S Apr 23, 2014
@ey814 Thanks for the recommendation! And I agree; it doesn't sound very Pulitzery.

I'm hoping the 2015 award goes to a work of fiction that is a little more down-to-earth (Gilead, The Known World, Middlesex, Empire Falls) than the last few winners have been. I was really pulling for "Someone" to win, even though I had/have not read it, and not just because I bought a signed first edition. I'm not a collector, and I very seldom read books the year they are published, but thanks to this site I've kept my ear to the ground.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 23, 2014
@Scott S @ey814 Based on what I've read of "Goldfinch", it is well-written but not GREAT writing...and the comparisons--the similes and metaphors--are at times awful. It is moving super fast, though.

While I'm glad to read "The Goldfinch", I am likely to surface from this book thinking that "Someone" or "The Son" --two relatively flawless novels--should have won the award. Even the most aggressive advocates for "The Goldfinch" admit its flaws.
Scott S Apr 24, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus I like "The Goldfinch" so far, but I don't doubt the possibility of there being a more deserving work that was left out of the mix. I became interested in the Pulitzer after reading "Middlesex", and was highly impressed by the 2 winners that followed and the 2 that preceded it. Ever since that impressive streak from 2001-2005 I've felt that the winners haven't been as strong, though I have yet to read "The Orphan Master's Son".
BRAKiasaurus Apr 24, 2014
@Scott S @BRAKiasaurus I agree in some cases about the strength of the winners (March and The Road occur to me), but I think that Goon Squad, Tinkers, and Orphan Master's were for Goldfinch, the story is engaging, but it almost seems too over-the-top at times. That said, I actually noticed the shoddy quality of some of the written passages, and then read this Francine Prose quote:

Throughout The Goldfinch are sections that seem like the sort of passages a novelist employs as placeholders, hastily sketched-in paragraphs to which the writer intends to go back: to sharpen the focus, to find a telling detail, to actually do the hard work of writing. If we readily grasp a scene that Tartt is setting, it’s often because her streetscapes and interiors are not merely familiar but generic. (...) Reading The Goldfinch, I found myself wondering, Doesn’t anyone care how something is written anymore ?" -- a question I would have been less likely to ask were I reading a detective novel. But The Goldfinch is being talked about, and read, as a work of serious literary fiction."

I am only 100 pages or so in, so I may find myself an advocate in the end for The Goldfinch, despite its flaws. At this point, I actually really agree with Prose's quote and many of James Woods' points as well--neither of them really felt this book was her strongest (at all) nor did they understand the hype that surrounded it.
Marybethking Apr 24, 2014
A Visit from the Goon Squad and the Orphan Master's Son might be in my top ten of novels that I have ever read.
JohnZ May 7, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus @Scott S The more I get into The Goldfinch, the more I think that the Pulitzer board might have wanted to go with what would be deemed a "popular" choice this year. Which is to say the choice of a novel about which many people had already heard prior to the disclosure of the Prizes' release.

It doesn't happen often, but it DOES happen. Gone with the Wind, certainly. The Yearling. The Road. Perhaps even The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Of the four I mentioned, I'm in agreement with two of the choices (Rawlings and Chabon).

The Goldfinch was already a best-seller months before the Pulitzer announcement. Perhaps the board thought that choosing it was the "hip" thing to do. Who knows?

That said (and as I've stated before), I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would. Though it does strike me (and this may sound bizarre, but there it is) as a kind of... well... sort of similar to a Harry Potter book. I'm not kidding here. Orphaned boy. Miserable. Finding himself in possession of fascinating artifacts (for wont of a better term): the ring, the painting. And off both take him on a journey where he is challenged and tested in places of both darkness and light.

Does this sound silly? Because it's the impression I'm getting. Understand, I have nothing against the Harry Potter books: I found them entertaining, with some sharp observations about innocence lost and maturity.

But The Goldfinch (as Ms. Prose wrote) is being considered as a serious addition to literature. Now, I haven't finished it, so I'll reserve my feelings about this observation until I've read it. However, Ms. Prose also wrote of something she thought while reading it: "Doesn't anyone care how something is written anymore?" I remember reading an interview (I forget where) in which Harper Lee asked this same question. The structure and honing, the careful consideration and decision of what to include and what to leave out, what to shape and how to shape it -- things that she felt were not as important to many writers as they used to (or ought to) be.

I'm wondering if Ms. Tartt, in channeling Dickens (sort of), decided to go whole hog here (pardon the crude phrase). I don't know. Perhaps, when writing of the Barbours, she decided to do a riff on Salinger, too. Perhaps she had so much fun with it that she just kept going. Or perhaps she felt that everything she included was vital to the story. Hard to tell.

But yes: I find it interesting (if sometimes cumbersome and repetitive in its descriptions and turns of phrase). When I learned she'd won, I felt a pang of something like dread (also surprise). But there have been passages that are arresting -- no doubt they snagged the Pulitzer board's attention. Similar passages may be found in a number of Pulitzer novels (viz., Martin Dressler and Kavalier and Clay), and perhaps Ms. Tartt's inclusion of these dense, seemingly fantastical moments impressed the board. (I'm thinking here of the sequence during which Theo escapes from the museum -- a sequence I thought was very good.)

As for the Barbours, none of them has surprised me. Not Mr. and Mrs. Not Andy. Not Platt. Not the two younger ones. They kind of go right along with the eccentric characters to be found in just about any book or story written by Salinger.

But Theo I find engaging. Which has to be a good thing (ha ha)!
Dalebert Apr 21, 2014
So one or two of you may remember my post back in December when I asked if anyone has ever had luck with mailing a book directly to an author to get a signature. It seemed people had mixed experiences, but I decided to give it a try anyways and sent my copy of "All That Is" to James Salter. I'm very pleased to report that not only did he sign and return the book to me, but he also included a hand signed (albeit typewritten) response to the letter I wrote. I have to say I am very excited and pleased that he took the time to write back to me. I was already a fan of his after reading "All That Is", but I'm even more so now. Anyways, just thought I would share for all the collectors out there.
ey814 May 1, 2014
Congratulations @Dalebert! In this case, the risk of losing the book paid off. I think I have mentioned before that one of my favorite books is one that was inscribed to me by Don Delillo with a lengthy inscription on a copy of Fallen Man that my brother sent to him on my behalf. Of course, you have to be willing to accept the risk that a book may never be returned, which happened to books to two other authors to whom my brother also sent books. But, good deal for you, thanks for updating us!
ey814 May 3, 2014
@EdParks For what it's worth, I saw Ford in Kansas City and in Little Rock in the past couple of years, and he was a generous signer, chatted as he signed, expressed his appreciation for our being there, and was an engaging interviewee (in both cases, he was interviewed by a local radio celebrity). I've heard he had a prickly side early on in life, but perhaps age has mellowed him!
ey814 May 3, 2014
@EdParks Yes, I can understand your feelings... and I was at the same book fair (Printer's Row Lit Fest, right?) that year... but could only be there for the Saturday events. I saw Bonnie Jo Campbell, Oscar Hijuelos, and John Sayles, so it was a good trip.
BRAKiasaurus Apr 21, 2014
I'm going to repost this here:

Does anyone know if Tom Rachman is eligable for the Pulitzer? His book "The Imperfectionists" was, I thought, just amazing. He has a new novel, and it sounds like it follows a similar format--can't wait to read it!
ey814 Apr 21, 2014
@BRAKiasaurus Nope. Born in London, lives in Canada. But, I heard good things about the Imperfectionists! Man Booker contender, perhaps?
ey814 Apr 20, 2014
Book Riot! discusses favorite Pulitzer winners:
grahammyers Apr 16, 2014
Joseph O'Neill has a new one coming out in September. It's titled "The Dog." Based on the synopsis, it seems like it could be a contender.
mgardne5 Apr 14, 2014
I started this comment in response to a post in the 2014 thread, but I thought it was a good way to start of 2015. I just want to say thank you to everyone who contributes to the prediction model and takes the time to share their views throughout the year. I think the prediction model is as good a resource as there is to predict the Pulitzer. In years past I have relied on it heavily in the last few months before the announcements to fill in my collection a little (though I still only manage to get half the books on the Top 15 list). More than the model, however, I have found everyone's input invaluable. We have quite a group here, I think. There have been books that are not even on my radar until I read your reviews here. I can only monitor so many sources during the year, and I've found that your impeccable taste, coupled with mine (humble brag), has helped me pick the winner the last two years. So thank you, everyone.
jfieds2 Apr 14, 2014
My first disappointment of 2014 was FOURTH OF JULY CREEK by Smith Henderson, which I just read as a galley. It's coming from Ecco in June. I normally love Ecco books, and had other reasons for thinking that I would love this one, and that it would be an awards contender. It takes place in Montana in the 80s and follows a young social worker, recently estranged from his wife and daughter, and his attempts to find solace through helping other children and one family specifically. The father is a stereotypical Montana isolationist, fearful and skeptical of the government -- a bit mentally ill (a la Ted Kaczynski) – who moves his family to the woods. Historical events play bit parts in the story – Mount St. Helens, the shooting of Reagan-- in a way that felt organic and real, but the story just didn’t hold together.

I just got a galley in the latest Powell's Indispensable's shipment -- WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas, coming in September from S&S. The past galleys that they have included in their boxes have been great -- I recall Claire Vaye Watkins' BATTLEBORN. In fact, this galley interests me more than the main selection of the box, Siri Hustvedt's THE BLAZING WORLD.

I have so much unread older books on my shelves (and major gaps in my reading of classics and modern classics) that I plan to do slightly less reading of new books this year. Thus, I may be more silent and reliant on you all to steer me well. Or I may not keep to my promise and read more recent stuff than old!
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@jfieds2 I got the Matthew Thomas ARC as well and thought it looked promising. I didn't know that Siri Hustvedt was married to Paul Auster!

Like you, I try to sprinkle in some older books to make up for my deficient education in the classics. This past year I read (well, listened to) Ulysses, Alison Lurie's Foreign Affairs, Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country (not that old, but briliiant!), Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, Willa Cather's One of Ours, Cormac McCarthy's The Orchard Keeper (I think I've now read all of his books), and A.B. Guthrie's The Way West. I'm also dragging myself through Faulkner's A Fable (hard slogging). Obviously a past-Pulitzer tendency to my older book reading, though I've also read Moby Dick and a couple of Hemingways in the past two years. So, mix and match. Once we hit November, I'll focus almost entirely on reading the books that are showing up on the lists for the 2015 Pulitzer.
ey814 Apr 15, 2014
@EdParks @jfieds2 I'd not heard of Matthew Thomas either, but the description on the ARC sounds good...
jfieds2 Apr 17, 2014
@EdParks @jfieds2My expectations of FOURTH OF JULY CREEK were likely way, way too high, so take my disappointment with a grain of salt. It was well written and conceived, but didn't hold together like I wanted it to. Also, the review I just read in PW makes me wonder if significant changes were made from the galley stage to the final book, which is rare, but happens.
mrbenchly Jun 4, 2014
@jfieds2 @EdParks FYI, Ron Charles just wrote a pretty glowing review of FOURTH OF JULY CREEK in which he called it the best book I’ve read so far this year."
Far_Nor_Cal Apr 14, 2014
Hello, all. I've been lurking and reading your comments over the past year and decided I'd like to participate actively leading up to the 2015 prize. It was this forum that turned me on to The Son, and several other reads that were off of my radar. I'm not sure if there are any rules to participate or join, and if I'm not supposed to be here, let me know and I'll go back to Lurking.

Already getting some great ideas for new reads. You guys are incredibly helpful.
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@Far_Nor_Cal All comers are welcome, we'll look forward to hearing what you think about books as you read them.
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
Chang Rae Lee's new book, On a Full Sea might be worth watching this year. I think it's the first 2014-eligible book I'll read. Books already out by Teju Cole (though topic seems off target for Pulitzer), Dinaw Mangestu, Lorrie Moore, Michelle Huneven, Ward Just, and Maggie Shipstaed are early books to watch, at least going by authors. Lydia Davis and Julia Glass have books out this month, Michael Cunningham, Joshua Ferris, Rivka Galchen, Ellen Gilchrist, Howard Norman, and Alexi Zentner in May. Later in the year, David Guterson, William Vollman, Richard Bausch. Also Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson. Smiley's is the first book in a trilogy, and perhaps one of the trilogy might earn her a second Pulitzer. Robinson's book is the third in the Gilead series and I think she's a real contender to take a second Pulitzer.
Arcticsound21 Apr 14, 2014
I disliked On Such A Full Sea. Which was a huge disappointment for me since the surrendered is one of my favorite books.
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@Arcticsound21 Disappointed to hear that... Surrendered was very good. Maybe I'll start with Dinaw Mangestu's new book, then!
Far_Nor_Cal Apr 14, 2014
I so enjoy Robinson's work. Really looking forward to Lila. She has never written a book that did not win a major prize, and I have to believe her newest offering will have her on a lot of short lists.
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@Far_Nor_Cal AS I said, I think she's one of the few Pulitzer winner's out there that can win a second. As you noted, her first (Housekeeping) was a Pulitzer finalist, Gilead won all sorts of things in addition to the Pulitzer, and Home won the Orange Prize. The new one is called Lila. I didn't think that Home was as strong as Gilead, but that's probably not fair (and I actually liked Housekeeping best of her novels to this point) but if Lila is strong, I could see a repeat.
DustySpines Apr 14, 2014
@ey814Based on what they read at readings in NYC so far, I'm looking forward to Teju Cole, Dinaw Mangestu, and to a lesser extent, Maggie Shipstead. Was excited about On Such A Full Sea, but it didn't really do much for me so I put it down.
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@DustySpines Your the second to give a yawn to On Such a Full Sea. I had a hard time liking Shipstead's first book, but it was well written, so interested in seeing how I respond to this one.
jfieds2 Apr 15, 2014
@ey814 @DustySpinesMike, I remember agreeing with you re Maggie Shipstead's first book -- gorgeous writing, but awful characters. Still, the whole Claire Messud controversy last year made me rethink the whole notion of likability. I really found myself agreeing with her. The descriptions of ASTONISH ME don't interest me terribly much, but I did read an excerpt in a literary magazine that I subscribe to, and the writing is strong. I will read it.
ey814 Apr 15, 2014
@jfieds2 @ey814 @DustySpines Yes, good point. I too heard the discussion around Messud's character (whom I didn't like very much!) and tried to recalibrate my judgement to like or not like a book as a function of how much I liked/didn't like the character. I'm not sure I'm going to do so well on that. I can appreciate the writing, but if I don't like the character, it's hard for me to like the story. I'm going to work on that, though! So, definitely reading Shipstead's new one.
MichaelRuddon Apr 14, 2014
@ey814 I know Richard Ford already has won once for Independence Day, but he will be publishing in the fall. From Amazon it is a collection of novellas starring the Frank Bascombe character - centered around Hurricane Sandy. The book is called Let Me Be Frank With You
ey814 Apr 14, 2014
@MichaelRuddon That's good news! I heard him talk last year and he mentioned he was writing a new Bascombe novel. Independence Day is one of my favorite novels... I've liked all the Bascombe books, so looking forward to this.
ey814 Apr 15, 2014
@EdParks @MichaelRuddon @ey814 I didn't think Canada was his strongest, but I didn't dislike it. I didn't think the young boy was a very believable character, he seemed much too wise for his years.

I must say, as well, that "Let me Be Frank With You" is a groaner of a title!
DustySpines Apr 16, 2014
@ey814 @EdParks@MichaelRuddonI know, that title sounds like a gag. I remember him saying on the Canada book tour that Frank wasn't done yet. He keeps a notebook full of Frank Bascombe stuff.
JohnZ Apr 30, 2014
@MichaelRuddon @ey814 More Frank Bascombe is always good news.
ey814 Apr 15, 2014
@EdParks I'll definitely read On Such a Full Sea, just maybe not as my first 2014 novel, given the mixed reviews. I had sort of hoped Orfeo was something to look forward to, but doesn't sound like it. I've been hot and cold with Powers, I loved Echo Maker but have had a couple of his I didn't finish. My wife liked the Julia Glass novel, though she's a big Julia Glass fan. And, of course, how can you go wrong with David Copperfield!
ey814 Apr 15, 2014
@EdParks I read "The Time of Our Singing" by Powers, and that same background in music and musical theory would have been helpful in that as well. At least Time of our Singing combined it with a civil rights story line that kept the novel moving, to some degree.
DustySpines Apr 16, 2014
@ey814 @EdParksI like what I've read of Powers (two or three novels). I'm not always in the mood for his books, but I heard him read from Orfeo and the part he chose to read was transcendent. I made a note to read it.
ey814 Apr 16, 2014
@EdParks Almost finished it... so still turning pages toward the end. Pretty powerful. Definitely one of the best books I read from the year... looking forward to the ending. Good recommendation and it will compel me to read more of her work.
michijake Apr 16, 2014
@ey814 I read that Teju Cole's book was originally published in Nigeria in 2007 - any idea whether this effects its Pulitzer eligibility? Here's a link to the description:
ey814 Apr 16, 2014
@michijake Yes it was, and yes it would be. Here is the language from the entry form for last year:

What books are eligible for consideration? Books first published in the United States during 2013. All entries must be made available for purchase by the general public in either hardcover or bound paperback book form. In the Fiction, Biography and General Nonfiction categories, authors must be United States citizens. In the History category, the author may be of any nationality but the subject of the book must be U.S. history. In the Poetry category, the award is for original verse by an American author.

The key to answering your question is "first published in the United States.." So, two examples to illustrate. A finalist two years ago was Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, a novella published first in 2001 in a British literary journal, Granta. But since the "book" production of it published in 2011 (eligible for the 2012 award, was the first time it was published in the United States, it was eligible. Second, Carol Shields won the Pulitzer for The Stone Diaries a full year after the book was published in the UK and Canada. She had dual US/Canadian citizenship, and for whatever reason, it was published in the UK and Canada first in 1993, and then in the U.S. not until 1994. But since it was the first US, it was Pulitzer eligible in 1994 and won the 1995 award.

Oddly enough, as far as I can tell, there is no requirement for publication in the US in English. The Man Booker Prize requires that the book be originally in English and published within the UK by an imprint formally established in the UK within the prize year. Previously, the Man Booker was available only to Commonwealth citizens, but they opened it up this year to any book written originally in English and published in the UK. So, let's say that this year's Pulitzer winner, The Goldfinch, had not been published in the UK until 2014 (that's not true, but let's just say it!), it would, as I read it, be eligible for the Man Booker for 2015 (book published originally in English and published in the UK by an imprint established in the UK. So, under some circumstances, we might see a Pulitzer winning book be eligible for the Man Booker prize! But, back to the English language and Pulitzer issue, as I said, I see no requirement specifying that, just the first US publication of a book. Perhaps we'll someday see a Spanish-language Pulitzer winner. (Anyone else know of or see anything about a language requirement in the Pulitzer award criteria?)
michijake Apr 20, 2014
@ey814 Thanks for the thorough answer! That's fascinating about there not being a language requirement. I remember at some point noticing that several of the Pulitzer finalists were not originally published in English (Chaim Grade's "Rabbis and Wives" comes to mind) but I'm not sure whether they would have been eligible had they not been translated.
ey814 Apr 20, 2014
@michijake Right, Chaim Grade published all of his books (at least I think all) in Yiddish first, then they were translated in English. I did a quick search but couldn't determine if the Yiddish versions were published in the US or elswhere. If they were published in the US and he didn't get the finalist nod until the English version came out, it suggests there is a rule about being published in English. If they were published in Yiddish elsewhere first, then that doesn't help us answer the question. Please note that I "don't see" an English language requirement, but I'm not sure if that is a requirement or not!
Bruce Bernstein Apr 22, 2014
@ey814 @michijake Train Dreams was published in The Paris Review, an American Journal, not Granta, and was eligible because it was not published as a book when it came out first.
ey814 May 1, 2014
@Bruce Bernstein Yep, you're right, my bad... Paris Review, not Granta and, as you point out, the bound book (novella :-)) version was the first bound version...
tylerg98 May 2, 2014
@ey814 Was very disappointed in the new Cunningham and Ferris. Enjoyed Shipstead's newest though, and it's been getting really positive reviews. I've got to read Home before Marilynne Robinson's new book comes out.
Arcticsound21 May 3, 2014
Oh no! @ey814 I was really looking forward to the new Cunningham! :(
Arcticsound21 Apr 14, 2014
Hi Tom! Thanks for all ur work on the board. Looking forward to a new year of great discussions
tklein27 Apr 14, 2014
@Arcticsound21 Thank you to everyone who contributed and made the journey so much fun. Special thanks to Mike for his model. He nailed the 2014 winner!.
tklein27 Apr 14, 2014
Hi All,

Here is a new page for 2015.