Was yesterday’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction another case of “right author, wrong book”?
By Janice Harayda
Book awards often go to the wrong book by the right author. This tends to happen — with the Pulitzers and other prizes — when judges try to make up for past injustices by rewarding an inferior book by a writer whose best work was snubbed.
The Pulitzer judges honored Sinclair Lewis for Arrowsmith after spurning the much better Babbitt and Main Street. They rewarded Ernest Hemingway for The Old Man and the Sea instead of A Farewell to Arms. And even Edith Wharton — as Pulitzer-worthy an author who ever lived — got the fiction prize for The Age of Innocence instead of Ethan Frome or The House of Mirth, both published before the Pulitzers began in 1917.
I haven’t read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which won the Pulitzer for fiction yesterday, so I don’t know how it compares to his earlier novels. How about you? Any comments on whether The Road is better than All the Pretty Horses?
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
Janice Harayda is an award-winning critic and former vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle.