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Predicting the Pulitzers

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Monday, Apr 7, 2008

This week at Re:Print, we’ll be talking all things Pulitzer, paying particular attention to the prize-winning books, fiction and non. The 2008 prize announcement happens this afternoon, and, for the life of me, I can’t even begin to predict which books will take home my literary favourite literary prize.


This is good, however. It means I’ll be surprised. 


My only prediction this year is more a hope than a forecast. I’d love to see Michael Weinreb’s Kings of New York, about the Edward R. Murrow High School chess team, grab the non-fiction prize. Because I loved it, and because it’s time Pulitzer recognized something a bit lighthearted. 


Writers at the San Francisco Chronicle have put forth their predictions, with the leaders Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying for the non-fiction prize, and for fiction, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.


Bybee at Naked Without Books takes a good guess at the fiction prize, with Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke and The We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris among her picks.


On Tree of Smoke, Bybee writes:


Denis Johnson’s been around for a while, written lots of “serious” fiction and I guess he’s paid his dues. I find him slightly reader-unfriendly, but that didn’t stop James Gould Cozzens from winning with Guard Of Honor back in 1949.


On Then We Came to the End:


Then We Came To The End has gotten a lot of recognition, but it’s a first novel. The workplace setting and the peculiar first person plural narration might be fresh and quirky enough to garner a win.


The folks over at the Pulitzer Prize First Edition Guide have published their 10-strong shortlist for the fiction prize:


1, Exit Ghost by Philip Roth
2. A Free Life by Ha Jin
3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
4. Falling Man by Don DeLillo
5. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
6. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
7. Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis
8. Run by Ann Patchett
9. The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
10. The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates


Is the winner in there? Will Roth do it again, or is it Oates’ turn? Will the young punks battle it out, or is it time DeLillo got up? It’s all so exciting!


We’ll take a closer look at the winners tomorrow, as well as looking back at past winners, nominees, and the historical significance of the award. I’m also going to dig deep within my own personal library and bring out a few rare gems I’ve found in my pursuit of every winning book from 1917. It’s an obsession, I will admit. But, man, it’s a pleasurable one.

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