And the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is…no one!

There was no Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012. Did you know that? I didn’t. There were three finalists, but the word is the eighteen judges couldn’t decide. They have a rule that a two-thirds majority must occur and it didn’t. So the books on the short list stayed there and no one got the award. That’s the first time in thirty-five years no award was given.

A jury of three fiction readers read over three hundred novels and short stories and came up with these finalists:


The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Swamplandia by Karen Russell

Why couldn’t they decide? Well it’s sort of like the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” rule. The board’s deliberations are sealed, so why they couldn’t agree on a winner, we’ll never know!

What do you think they should have done?

If you want to know more, especially about the process of picking the finalists, check out these articles.

From The Guardian, April 17, 2012: “Pulitzers 2012: prize for fiction withheld for first time in 35 years” by Alison Flood

From The New Yorker, July 8, 2012:  “Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year” by Michael Cunningham

From The New Yorker, July 10, 2012: “Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury, Part II: How To Define Greatness?” by Michael Cunningham

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

12 thoughts on “And the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is…no one!

    1. Yes – true! I can’t believe they couldn’t agree on a winner. I wonder if the three books were so diverse they couldn’t decide, or too similar. Thanks for stopping by, Jill. Happy weekend!

  1. Very interesting. I wonder what the three authors thought about the indecision.

    1. I don’t know. I imagine they would have discussed what people would think if there was no winner. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that there was no award that year. In some ways, it adds to the meaning of the award. But to think that the board didn’t agree that any one of the three (which were chosen out of hundreds of books) was worthy of the prize. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and taking the time to comment. Happy reading!

  2. Hm. How frustrating for the three authors on the short list, although I suppose they can all claim, rightfully, that they were the All Time Shortlisters.Would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in that committee room . . .

    1. Oh I know, I would like to know more. But I have not read the three books that were shortlisted, so maybe I would have a better idea why there was such indecision after I read them. Thanks for stopping by, Jan. I hope you are enjoying this summer weekend!

  3. I had no idea, Barbara, so thanks for sharing this with us. I also wonder what the three authors thought of this conclusion…

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