"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, May 3, 2024

Predicting the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction --- a compilation

As you know, I am attempting to read as many Pulitzer Prize winners, past and present, as I can. Therefore every year at this time I start holding my breath wondering which book will win the coveted fiction award. Unlike most other book award-giving organizations (National Book Award, Women's Prize, Book Award, Stella Award, etc.) the Pulitzer Prize Award does not give us any hints which books might win by publishing a long list and then a list of finalists. Nope. On May 6th, this coming Monday, the award will be announced along with two finalists. This gives everyone room to speculate but no one really knows and so there is a lot of guessing going on right now.

Just a little bit of information on the Pulitzer Prize for fiction before I jump in with my compiled list of possible contenders. To qualify, the author must be an American, published the previous year, and preferably dealing with American life. Several times in the past, the award went to an author who was previously a finalist, but that is not a for sure indicator.

So which book will win? I checked the internet and found these people who made predictions and have compiled their answers.

  • Favorite to win: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett.
  • Second choice: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Story by James McBride
  • Third choice: North Woods by Daniel Mason
  • Possible winners:
    • Absolution by Alice McDermott
    • Blackouts by Justin Torres
  • Favorite to win: Biography of X by Catherine Lacey
  • Possible winners:
    • North Woods 
    • Blackout  
  • Favorites to win:
    • The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store 
    • North Woods
    • Tom Lake (I think this is his favorite, but I'm not sure)
  • Possible winners:
    • The Faraway World: Stories by Patricia Engel
    • Mobility by Lydia Kiesling
    • Chain Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
  • Anti-choice (Ben hopes this book won't be picked):
    • This Other Eden by Paul Harding
  • Picked: North Woods 
  • First choice: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store
  • Second choice: Blackouts
  • Third choice: Chain Gang All-Stars
  • Fourth choice: North Woods
Betting lines (Yes, betting lines) -- OLBG and BetUs
  • The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store / 3 to 1 / 25%
  • Tom Lake / 4 to 1 / 20%
  • North Woods / 5 to 1 / 16.7%
  • Absolution / 7 to 1 / 12.5%
  • Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez / 7 to 1 / 12.5%
  • Many others....
Of all these books, I've only read Tom Lake and Heaven and Earth Grocery Store. I loved both books and would be very happy if either of them won. Here is a bit of what I gleaned from reading/listening to these other folks:

     Tom Lake. Ann Patchett has been a finalist before for the Pulitzer with her book Dutch House so that should move her up in the line for that reason. She also has done a lot to promote reading and authors with her involvement in her Nashville bookstore. Does she deserve to be rewarded? 
     Blackouts won the National Book Award in 2023 so that usually means, according to past practices,  the committee is less likely to offer the book their award, too. Though it deals with the erasure of queer history, a timely and needed book.
     The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store: McBride won the NBA for his book Lord God Bird, but that was several years ago, so it shouldn't hold him back any from winning the Pulitzer this year. 
     I haven't read North Woods but it sounds pretty fantastic and the author has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer in the past with his story collection, A Registry of My Passage Upon This Earth (2021). Does this place him ahead of the pack equal with Patchett? 
     Mobility is apparently a book about climate change so it may get the nod for its relevance. 
     Biography of X is supposed to be very creative. This book made it onto the Atlantic's list of 135 best American stories, published this month. It is the only one of the books I've mentioned here or from this year to make the list.
    The Chain Gang All-Stars is pretty niche, but the committee often goes for out-there choices. Think Less or The Netanyahus for examples. I bet I'd like this one since it is touted as an adult Hunger Games
     The Faraway World is short stories, so it might not win just because of the form, or it might win since it's been ages since a book of short stories has won. The last time was in 2000 for The Interpreter of Maladies. See the problem? 
     Ben at 'Ben Reads Good' made one hopeful anti-choice: This Other Eden. The author Paul Harding won several years ago for The Tinkers, which I really, really didn't like. This Other Eden is told in an unusual (read confusing) way about a made-up island off the coast of Maine which expelled all it's black and mixed race inhabitants because, um, they could? It is a distressing story and one which likely be a very unpopular choice if picked.
     I can't remember what anyone said/wrote about Absolution or Vulnerables, so I won't act like I know something I don't.
     How can one predict? Last year was actually an outlier with the two frontrunners being co-winners: Demon Copperhead and Trust. Perhaps this year the committee will swing the other way and give the award to a book no one is talking about.
     Now we wait for the announcement: Monday, May 6, 2024.


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