Today the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded and I had my eye out for who won the prize for Fiction. I was shocked as I heard the announcer read which book won the award.
The Pulitzer winner was Less by Andrew Sean Greer.
I had read Less earlier this year, and was less than enthused with it. Part of it was the subject matter, but I also did not think it was that well written. The main character in the book had accepted several travel opportunities that would take him out of the country as his long time partner was getting married and he wanted to be away from his circle of friends. The book portrays his travel experiences as he made his way around the globe. At times they were very unrealistic to me, and I have traveled to many of the same countries as the character in the book. However, I would not visit the same type of places at each location as the main character in the book.
The reactions on other web sites that I follow were similar with many surprised that this book would win. Several readers wrote of abandoning the book after only a few pages and some were wondering how this could be chosen with all the great books out there this year.
I did not review Less in my Pulitzer Prediction 2018 post as I did not think it had any chance of being considered.
Two finalists were also announced. The way the process works is that a jury reviews eligible books and presents three books to the Pulitzer Board. The board then makes the final decision as to who the winner is. I usually find that the jury will choose who they want to win and then select two other books with less chance of winning and then present them to the board.
I believe that this is the case again this year as one of the finalists received just minor attention in the book world while the other was virtually unheard of.
I am curious as to who the jury members were that selected this trio of books to present to the board. They will eventually be posted on the Pulitzer web site and I will then probably understand more as to why these books were chosen. I would imagine that if you had 50 different juries you would have 50 different sets of books presented to the board. This is why it is so difficult to predict who will win the Pulitzer.
I stopped by the library after work today to pick up the two finalists. The winner was also on the shelves where it has been since I finished reading it. I easily found The Idiot by Elif Batuman, but had a little trouble finding In the Distance by Hernan Diaz. I finally had to go to the catalog and found that it was shelved in the Western section of the library.
Next to Less I found The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells which is also by Andrew Sean Greer. I often find that the previous book by a Pulitzer winner is a better book and hope that in this case it is. I picked up a copy and plan to read it after I finish the two finalists. I will give Greer another chance.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman is about the daughter of Turkish immigrants who goes to Harvard for her Freshman year and then to Hungary in the following summer to teach English. I am not sure how much of the book is set in America yet, but it does look interesting and in any case is about the life of an American student so is about American life.
I look forward to reading this book as it has received good reviews.
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz is set in California in the mid 1800’s. This is of interest to me as I had a cousin of my 3rd great grandfather who was in the gold rush and wrote a book about his travels. The subject of this story is a young immigrant from Sweden and the trials that he went through.
Up until today In the Distance had about 100 ratings on Goodreads, but it now has 340 as 235 people have added it to their to-read shelves today.
I can imagine that many people will not find this book at their libraries. However, since I live in California close to the area where the book is set we have several copies in our library system.
I will possibly write follow-up posts about the two finalists. It will depend on how well I like them 🙂
What do you think about the choice for the winner?