No Contest

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Industry News

How can a contest end with no winner? Apparently the Pulitzer Committee has no problem answering that question. There were three finalists for the 2011 fiction award, and NONE of them received a majority vote. What does that mean? Did they all tie, or did none of the judges cast a vote?

Let’s form our own Pulitzer committee.  Cast your vote below:

Not this year. For all those novelists who were lucky (and talented) enough to be nominees for the fiction award, the finality of a winner isn’t there. Because there isn’t one. It’s unsettling.

It was a real WTF moment for the literary world. Most of us Pulitzer watchers thought the prize would go to David Foster Wallace for his novel, The Pale King, which was published posthumously last year. Wallace, who suffered from crippling life-long depression, hanged himself in 2008. He was 45.

The Pulitzer committee announced that there had been three finalists–Wallace, Karen Russell for Swamplandia! and Denis Johnson for Train Dreams.(Johnson was also a finalist in 2008 for “Tree of Smoke.”)

In declining to give the award, the Pulitzer Board noted that none of the three finalists had garnered a majority vote.

Seriously?…..  read more.

via No Good Novels in 2011? For the First Time in 35 years, the Pulitzer Committee Declines Award for Fiction | Lambda Literary.

  1. I commented on this a week or so ago ( While it is puzzling, in the end I decided to cut them some slack. No “winner” is not the same as saying no good fiction, it is saying “no winner” by their criteria. It is not the same as a writing contest where the contest rules indicate that a winner will be picked. I likened it to something different.

    • dborys says:

      I can understand if they would have said that none of the books submitted met their criteria. But if that were the case, then there should be no “finalists” for them to choose from. By picking three books from the (I assume) many, there is an implication that submissions passed some initial screening. That, in my opinion, should be where the entries’ criteria should be vetted before coming up for a final vote. Had they said there were no finalists for the committee to vote because none met the criteria, that would have made sense. This does not, for me.

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