To say that my novel, Domestic Violets, which came out last August, was eligible to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is a true statement. Technically. Right? I mean it’s true in the same way that I was eligible to be named People’s Sexiest Man Alive. After all, I am a man, and I am alive. Regardless, I think we can all agree that I can speak about this year’s lack of a winner with a healthy bit of objectivity.
In failing to name a winner for fiction, the folks in charge of handing out Pulitzers did all of us a disservice. And by “all of us,” I mean the rapidly shrinking number of people out there who still care.
Let’s face it—it’s getting harder and harder to be a true Book Nerd. While certain aspects of TV have never been worse, much of it has never been better. Thanks a lot, HBO and AMC. Movies are delivered right to our homes now—either by mail or modem. And our actual televisions are so enormous and ridiculously advanced that even the shittiest movies you can imagine are marginally impressive, at least visually. Even the weather is against us. Thanks to Climate Change, I can’t remember the last time it was actually cold enough outside to not feel guilty about laying around and reading all day.
But, as depressing as all of that sounds, we could always look forward to the Pulitzer. The National Book Award is fun to follow—and so is the PEN/Faulkner. But there’s something different about the Pulitzer. Each year, when the winner is announced, I email my Book Nerd friends and we discuss it. If we’ve read the book, we either complain about it winning or celebrate it. If we haven’t read the book, we’re embarrassed, and so we go out and buy it right away. And for a few days, we aren’t talking about Don Draper. We aren’t talking about politics or sports or movies or whether or not 30 Rock is a repeat. We’re talking about books.
I’m not saying that choosing the best novel of the year out of thousands is an easy job. In fact, it sounds pretty overwhelming. Next year, though, for the sake of everyone in the country who is still struggling to cling to Book Nerdom…come on, seriously…just suck it up and pick one.