Was 2011 A Bad Year for Fiction?

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace


The Pulitzer board announced on Monday that, for the first time since 1977, there would be no award for fiction this year. The jury for the fiction prize selected three finalists for the 2011 award out of a group of roughly 300 novels. But the board failed to get a majority vote for any of the three selections. Jury members interviewed insist that this does not reflect poorly on the novels selected. What do you think? The three finalists are:

"Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson is a novella about a day railroad laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century. Johnson won the National Book Award in 2007 for his novel "Tree of Smoke."

"Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell is an adventure set in the Florida Everglades. The novel features an alligator wrestling park run by several generations of the Bigtree family. Heroine Ava Bigtree attempts to hold the family together as their business falters.

"The Pale King" by David Foster Wallace is a novel that was unfinished at the time of Wallace's death in 2008. Employees of an Internal Revenue Service office in Peoria, Illinois struggle against an epic tide of boredom in this amusing and unusual book.

--Jennifer A., Headquarters


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