First, what’s up, Pulitzer board? When the fiction jurors presented them with three options — Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! and David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King — the board decided nothing was better than something, awarding the Pulitzer for fiction to no one this year.
Former juror Laura Miller has an idea of how that might have happened, which she details in this post for Salon, a link to which I first saw over at the Millions. She also comments on her days as a juror:
We got hundreds and hundreds of them, including many self-published novels with titles like The Bikinis of Alpha Centauri, most of which read as if they’d been run through Google Translate into Farsi and then run back again into English before being committed to print.
So the Pulitzer board kinda botched that one. They got another one of the prizes very, very right, though: Eli Sanders of Seattle’s the Stranger won the Pulitzer for feature writing.
prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth sent an excited e-mail out to contributors last night in case they missed it, ending it with “ALT NEWSPAPERS ROCK!” before presumably rushing into the night, pumping his fists in the air and eventually overturning a car in celebration. As he pointed out, this is only the seventh Pulitzer win for an alt-paper, three of which had previously gone to the Village Voice and, criminally, none of which had gone to the Stranger previously.
The Stranger does a lot of things right, but their features are simply the best. Among them, Sanders’ winning piece, “The Bravest Woman in Seattle”, stands out, for the quality of the writing but also the content, detailing the trial of a man for a horrific set of crimes. You should read it now.