Pulitzer Prize 2016 Predictions

Lately I haven’t been doing too good a job of keeping this blog updated. I recently started a full time job and am still figuring out the schedule, but I’m slowly working out the kinks and should have a few posts up this week. Anyway…

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize will be announced on Monday at 3pm. It’s easy to argue that it’s the US’s most prestigious literary prize (almost all winners receive a huge boost in sales and it’s gone to a number of classics in the past, such as The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird). Nevertheless, some people are not fans of it. William Gass has argued that the award reflects popular book club books rather than literary merit, and while there are a couple of works that make me disagree with him, on the whole I feel like this assessment is not too far off the mark. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, the 2013 winner, was amazing, while The Goldfinch and All the Light We Cannot See were just average (but bestsellers beforehand). But speculating is fun, so let’s see if I can predict the winner and finalists.

This website has created an algorithm to predict the winner. Twice it has correctly predicted which book comes away with the prize; usually the winner is ranked in the upper half of the list.

The Sellout is currently number one. See my review here. I think it’s a humorous, topical book, but maybe a bit too topical: some of its power comes not from the plot but from being released at the right time. Nonetheless, this would be a worthy winner, and in any other year I’d be rooting for it. But…

The Tsar of Love and Techno is also in contention, and it’s just too good to ignore. The Pulitzer Prize is supposed to have an American theme, so the Russian setting might work against this, but then The Orphan Master’s Son and All The Light We Cannot See were set in North Korea and wartime France and Germany, respectively.

I’ve been so busy with work and reading this year that I haven’t taken too good a look at the other possibilities, but if the prize decided to go the popular root again, A Little Life might come away with the prize. A tale of child abuse and its affects later in life, it is pretty much to 2015 what The Goldfinch was to 2013. All that’s missing is a Pulitzer.

I think that out of these 3 books, 1 will be the winner and 1 will be a finalist (1 of the 2 finalists usually comes out of left field, so I won’t even pretend to have any inkling as to what it could be). I really want The Tsar to win, but a part of me feels like The Sellout will be the winner and A Little Life the finalist. Unfortunate, but Anthony Marra, Tsar’s author, is quickly proving himself to be one of the best up coming writers, so I’m sure he will write an award winner (or, in the words of Gass, the Pulitzer board will give him a consolation prize).


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