Maureen Corrigan, one of three jurors for the fiction prize, said she was just as shocked as everyone else when she learned Monday that there would be no fiction winner. “Honestly, I feel angry on behalf of three great American novels,” said Corrigan, a critic in residence at Georgetown University and a book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air.300 novels in 6 months is a whole lotta reading, even if some books are so bad they don't need to be finished. I wonder whether jurors are paid.
Corrigan, along with Susan Larson, former books editor of The Times-Picayune and host of The Reading Life on WWNO-FM, and Michael Cunningham, author of the 1999 Pulitzer winner The Hours, read about 300 novels each over the course of six months. * * *
Cunningham also agreed that the board should think about revising the selection process. “I think there's something amiss in a system where three books this good are presented and there's not a prize,” he said. “So, yeah, they might want to look into that.” * * *
“We’re getting some suggestion from some of these articles that maybe we were scraping around, desperately trying to find novels, but that was not the case,” Corrigan said, adding that she will never again be on the jury. “Only if the rules were changed,” she laughed.
Anyway, the Pulitzer folks are a bit hampered by confidentiality, but we are urged against drawing the obvious conclusion:
“They could have been passionate admirers of all three books,” said Harold Augenbraum, executive director of The National Book Foundation, which administers another of America’s major book prizes, The National Book Awards. “And because the Pulitzer board has to vote in a majority, and so if you have 18 members, if you’ve got seven, seven, and four, that means that there’s not going to be a prize. It doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t think one of the books was worthy.”Not necessarily, no.