So, the 2016 Pulitzer Prizes were announced today…and I was completely off.
Winner: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Finalists: Get In Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
Maud’s Line by Margaret Verble
I’m kicking myself for not reading The Sympathizer sooner. It had a lot of buzz this past fall, but I just had too many other books to get to it. On the speculation website, it was ranked 9th, a bit lower than the winner usually is, but still in the top 10. Also, I’m sure every wannabe writer hates him right now. To win one of the biggest American literary prizes with your debut novel…that’s every writer’s dream.
Most years one of the finalists comes in from left field with not a single person expecting it to have been on the shortlist, and it appears this year the committee outdid themselves in that regard: both are completely unexpected. I had vaguely heard of Kelly Link before this, but I didn’t even know she had a book out this year. Get In Trouble is a collection of short stories that I assume are written in her signature weird/fantasy style (she’s won almost every major scifi/fantasy prize for novellas and short stories). The Verble is a complete enigma. It’s about Native Americans on an Oklahoma reservation in 1928. Maud, a teenager/young woman, goes through her monotonous, occasionally violent days when a stranger comes through one day and offers her a chance at a better life and at love.
While my library did not have Maud’s Line, it did have the other two, so look for reviews of The Sympathizer and Get In Trouble on here in the coming weeks.
As for the prize, while a part of me is sad The Tsar of Love and Techno didn’t win, another part of me is happy neither A Little Life nor The Sellout won (the latter of which I enjoyed, but, as I said in a previous post, I’m not sure how powerful it would be if it were not for contemporary events). And it brought some interesting books that probably would’ve slipped by me if they had not had the recognition. A lot of people have voiced their dislike for literary prizes in general, but as long as they keep introducing me to great books, I say the more the merrier.