Thursday, April 19, 2012

No Pulitzer Prize for Fiction!

I was shocked, shocked to discover that the folks that award the Pulizer Prize could not pick a winner in the category of Fiction.  Really?! No prize for fiction?  Ann Patchett (author of my favorite book--Bel Canto) wrote an excellent Op Ed for the NY Times berating them for their lack of a prize in this category.  In the editorial she surmises why it might have happened, reviews her own ideas for best fiction and concludes like this:

Let me underscore the obvious here: Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.

Unfortunately, the world of literature lacks the scandal, hype and pretty dresses that draw people to the Academy Awards, which, by the way, is not an institution devoted to choosing the best movie every year as much as it is an institution designed to get people excited about going to the movies. The Pulitzer Prize is our best chance as writers and readers and booksellers to celebrate fiction. This was the year we all lost.

In my last post, I wrote about storytelling as an important survival skill.  Ms Patchett makes the observation that reading stories--long ones--is also an important thinking and skill building  tool.  Fiction, reading, books, all vital to our life on this planet and in these times.  Pulitzer did miss the boat when they failed to award that prize. 

Read on!

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