Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Pulitzer for Fiction

“Actors, politicians, and writers—all of us are but creatures of the hour. Long-lasting fame comes to but few.” – Louis L’Amour

Congratulations to the 2009 Pulitzer Winner for fiction, announced on the 20th, Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout.

I suppose all authors at one time or another dream of receiving some sort of book award. A prestigious award such as the Pulitzer, would be a meaningful acknowledgment of the hard labor that goes into creating a book, instantly boosting the author to fame and immortality. However, according to a recent article, And The Pulitzer For Forgotten Fiction Goes To... on that scenario is not necessarily the case.

Sure we all remember Gone with the Wind and The Grapes of Wrath. But do you recall His Family by Ernest Poole, Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller, The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor, or any of the other books on NPR’s “… Unscientific List Of Least-Known Fiction Winners?”

The article asks… “Were these books great in their time, but only in their time? Were the Pulitzer jurors simply out to lunch? Or maybe the literary pickings are just slim some years.”

I admit, I have not read or even heard about the books on their list. But, I think the fault may be mine and not that of the books or the authors. And, perhaps the books that are remembered, like Gone with The Wind, reached immortality with the aid of Hollywood.

Only time will tell if this year’s winner, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, ends up on the remembered or forgotten list.

Have you read any of the books mentioned? Do you have any forgotten books to add to the list? Why do you think some award winning books are never forgotten while others are?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: L’Amour, Pulitzer, Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout, NPR, Gone With the Wind, Grapes of Wrath, forgotten fiction,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think it points more to the fact that all views are subjective - just because a committee awards a book a prize doesn't mean it will appeal to the masses. Look at all of the 'highly-acclaimed' movies that come out at the end of any given year, all vying for Best Picture. Most of them are never heard from again, because while the acting & drama were of high-quality, it wasn't a movie real people enjoyed or wanted to see. I think the same theory applies to books, too.

L. Diane Wolfe

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Good point, L. Diane.

Anonymous said...

I honestly haven't read any of them. Very few books, even big award winners are timeless enough in their appeal to attain to a classic.

Chester Campbell said...

I think Marvin has hit the sharp thing on the head. It's only books that achieve classic status among the Pulitzers that we remember. I'm afraid I'm too busy with other stuff to get around to the prize winners.

Helen Ginger said...

I think it depends on the judges. If there truly were a way to pick the best of all books, then we'd need only one judge to choose it. But there are judges for literary books, for mystery/thriller/suspense books, romance books, scifi/fantasy books, and on and on. Even though the Pulitzer has a lot of prestige, it's not going to appeal to everyone.

K. A. Laity said...

As a medievalist, I'd suggest that we're simply not the best judges of lasting quality. We don't have perspective on what speaks to our moment and what will continue to resonate. It's all a crap shoot and prizes only reflect a fairly mainstream group of opinions at a given time. Many of our favourite author never receive any award but the unseen, dog-eared, much beloved tomes treasured on many a shelf.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congratulations – you just won The Lemonade Stand Award! Visit my blog for details -

L. Diane Wolfe

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world