Who will be the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction?

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March 14, 2009

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

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

The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Final Prediction List

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

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

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

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