Since the Pulitzer Prize board decided not to give an award in the fiction category this year, I am listing here some of the other fiction prizes to look forward to in the near future. The Pulitzer fiction jury did narrow the choices to three finalists, but then the Pulitzer Board failed to reach the majority vote needed to choose a winner. The writers are first honored by being named finalists and then insulted by being told they are not worthy of the prize. What shabby treatment of these novelists and their work. The selection process needs to be revised. If the Board cannot make a decision, send it back to the jury. Here are the finalists, chosen and then snubbed, as described at the Pulitzer website.
"Nominated as finalists in this category were: Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years; and The Pale King, by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace."
The Orange Prize shortlist will be announced tomorrow, April 17th. I see several novels I have begun and put aside for lack of interest. On the other hand, a couple of longlisted books I still want to read are: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon-- because I own it already-- and Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick, since she builds her novel on The Ambassadors by Henry James. The winner will be announced May 30th, and although I cannot attempt the whole shortlist, I may pick up a couple more.
The IMPAC Dublin shortlist was announced on April 12th. My first pick to read, mostly because it is available at the library, is a first novel by an American writer, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes. This novel won the Washington State Book Award and was also a bestseller last year in the United States. Then I want to read Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin, who is not only a writer but also the frontman for the indie band Richmond Fontaine from Portland, Oregon. Interestingly, Vlautin's book was nominated by librarians from The Netherlands and Ireland, not by any librarians in the United States, although WorldCat shows that our local high school has purchased the book.
The Three Percent Blog at the University of Rochester has named the Best Translated Book Award shortlist. Of the ten novels, I have read only one, New Finnish Grammar by by Diego Marani, translated from the Italian by Judith Landry. Review to follow soon. This looks like a strong field, and I hope to get around to a couple of other finalists.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist has also been announced. Again, New Finnish Grammar is a finalist. The other one I've read, Dream of Ding Village by Chinese writer Yan Lianke, should be a strong contender. From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb, was not for me. I could not stick it.
Next up to read from these finalists: The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco, translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon. Our public library has a copy. My experience with Eco has been mixed. He does go on and on, and the two books I've read by him leave me feeling engaged and entertained but wondering if the huge investment of time required for these tomes was worth the effort. At 464 pages, his latest novel is a bit shorter than the others, and I'll start it and see how it goes.
The Miles Franklin shortlist will be announced May 3rd. The only novel I’ve read from the Miles Franklin longlist is Kate Grenville’s Sarah Thornhill. It is well-written but something of a disappointment after The Secret River. I expect to choose another Australian novel or two from the shortlist.
Okey dokey, Pulitzer Board, if you cannot make a recommendation, others will.