Just when the publishing industry thought things couldn’t get any worse.
Days after the Department of Justice made the blockbuster announcement that it was suing five of the biggest book publishers in the business, the Pulitzer Prize board dropped its own bombshell on Monday: for the first time in 35 years, there would be no Pulitzer winner for fiction.
Publishers, authors and booksellers howled in outrage, attacking the Pulitzer board on Twitter and on blogs (“how can this be?” was the Tweet from the Boulder Bookstore). Winning the Pulitzer for fiction offers an unparalleled boon in prestige and sales, a rare splashy opportunity to bring a novel in front of the public and to permanently change the course of a writer’s career. Not to choose a winner, the industry raged, was an insult.
It was the 11th time in the prize’s history that a winner in fiction was not chosen, said Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, but the first time since 1977. That year, the jury recommended “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean but the board declined to give the award.
Usually, a winner is selected in a two-step process. A three-member fiction jury reviews hundreds of books (341, in this case), comes up with three finalists and sends those finalists to the Pulitzer board.
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