What Happened with the Pulitzer

July 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Utter objectivity, however, is not only impossible when judging literature, it’s not exactly desirable. Fiction involves trace elements of magic; it works for reasons we can explain and also for reasons we can’t. If novels or short-story collections could be weighed strictly in terms of their components (fully developed characters, check; original voice, check; solidly crafted structure, check; serious theme, check) they might satisfy, but they would fail to enchant. A great work of fiction involves a certain frisson that occurs when its various components cohere and then ignite. The cause of the fire should, to some extent, elude the experts sent to investigate.

Michael Cunningham, one of the jurors responsible for nominating selections for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, reveals as much as he can into the nomination process and his speculation why the Pulitzer board ultimately decided not to pick a winner. First of two parts.

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