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

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