This hasn’t happened since the 70s, but yes, it’s happened before. This year, the Pulitzer Prize Board decided not to give its prestigious award to any works of fiction. It’s hard (cough-ridiculous-cough) to believe that none of the considered titles were worthy of the prize. What’s worse, the board’s action sends a message to readers that this past year wasn’t very good for fiction. Maybe they shouldn’t bother reading any fiction that was released last year. Is this the kind of attitude that the Pulitzer Prize Board wants to promote in a time when the overall industry is struggling for sales?
For a beautiful reply to this obnoxious decision, check out author and bookseller Ann Patchett’s NYT op-ed. Especially her appeal for fiction: “It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings.”