Since the NBCCA thread has gone largely off topic here's a thread for the Pulitzer.
Since the NBCCA thread has gone largely off topic here's a thread for the Pulitzer.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
As I predicted in the NBCCA thread, The Sport of Kings and Imagine Me Gone were both finalists.
I guess I was wrong about Whitehead winning. It's really appalling to me that such a poorly written book is getting so much praise. The prose is elementary level and the dialogue is as well. It's written like a generic thriller and at no point is a serious discussion of slavery or the violent history of the South really explored. There's one section in the middle of the novel that's decent and somewhat covers these topics but even then, it's severely lacking and only comprises a portion of the book. The novel is gimmicky and unoriginal. It does nothing new.
In all honesty, two well received novels about slavery were finalists, one, by a white women and one by a black man, I'm guessing politics factored into this. That or just the sheer laziness of the judges. The Underground Railroad is readable in about two hours. Whereas The Sport of Kings is far more substantial with much, much better written.
Oh well, The Sport of Kings won the Kirkus Prize. Which is worth a lot more money.
Both the National Book Award and Pulitzer are losing any regard I had for them as "serious" literary prizes. For the most part they're popularity contests with judges who increasingly pick the simplest, easiest book as the winner.
Awards are given out by people, and people are prone to making mistakes. The ultimate judge of any artist or work of art is Time. It remains to be seen if Whitehead's novel is still read in 20, 30, 50 years' time.
It wasn't that terrible of a book. I didn't love it, it is a tad bit overrated in my view, but I can see why it won the prizes. Once again, it is the kind of book that fits right in the "goldie locks" zone for literary prizes. Mainstream enough so that someone like my dad will pick it up and enjoy it, serious enough for analysis in a high school english class.
So if someone else has a different opinion than you when it comes to assessing the quality of books, they're either clueless, lazy, or politically-motivated? That sounds like sheer arrogance, my friend. And as the infallible arbiter of literary works, were you appointed or self-anointed?
Former judges of the National Book Award have pointed this out and made it an issue in editorials. I assume it's the same with the Pulitzer.
The writing was lazy and the prose was weak. Before complaining about me why don't you read it for yourself and form an opinion on it.
There was an entire discussion in the NBCCA Thread about American literary awards making easy/poor chocies. Why don't you go complain there? I was one of the few defending these awards in that thread.
I have not read Whitehead's novel and I have no particular interest in reading it. I'm not arguing the merits or demerits of the novel. What I take issue with is your writing in such absolutes. Clearly, you think The Underground Railroad is shit and that's fine. You're entitled to your OPINION. Continue to shout it at the top of a mountain, if you're so inclined. The arrogance comes in when you take the next step of presenting your conjecture as irrefutable fact. You clearly state Whitehead got the Pulitzer because of tokenism or because the judges were too lazy to read The Sport of Kings properly. There is a third alternative - the judges carefully read both novels and found The Underground Railroad to be superior. Perhaps, just perhaps, they're right and you're wrong or better yet - they simply came to a different conclusion than you did. Regardless, you weren't privy to those discussions and so I think it's absolute bullshit to level a charge of tokenism. It demeans the award, its judges, the winning author, and the novel itself, and, in my opinion, makes you look pretty foolish in the process.
Last edited by Stevie B; 11-Apr-2017 at 20:30.
Oh Stevie, you haven't lost the touch. Thank you so much my friend.
Thank you, Stevie. When I read this thread the other day I couldn't even imagine how the post announcing the winners even made it possible to have a discussion here. I mean, as you point out, there are ways to have an opinion about a book and still make space for discussion.
Whenever I see posts on forums like the one above I am reminded of just how wretchedly reviewed Moby Dick was when it was released. Same with Les Miserables, or that, as it pertains to the Pulitzer, William Faulkner, the single most important white American writer of his century, didn't win the Pulitzer until his excellence was recognized by that weird Swedish committee which hands out medals. As Liam pointed out, the long run of time determines, largely, if something is to maintain its power. And I suspect that our posturings for intelligence on this forum will have any longterm impact on that process. As we may not ever get to see how this book is viewed in 50, 60, or 150 years, can we instead try and use language that opens up the possibility of discussion? That is, mostly, done by asking questions.
Though I will say I am more interested in reading this book because of Isahoinp's objections. I mean, his reviews in a few of the other threads are just so damned inconsistent and confusing in their criteria that I might as well take the chance to understand something he thinks is poor literature.
I'm not entirely thrilled by the winner. I really love Louise Erdrich and think she has consistently released incredible literature which is more than worthy of any award that is available. That said, I don't much care for the Pulitzer. For some reason, of all the major awards in the States, it is the one that intrigues me least.
It's laughable that every year numerous members of this forum bitch and moan over the Swedish Academy giving an award to writers they don't believe deserved it, but somehow when I apply these same comments to a much lesser award it's somehow immediately considered blasphemy. There's even entire threads on Nobel "misses" or the 5 page long thread on "Nobel Screw Ups." Plenty of people on this forum insist that certain Nobel winners won the prize because of politics. Again, how is asserting that a Pulitzer winner winning for politics any more blasphemous of a statement?
The publication of Beloved in 1987 resulted in the greatest acclaim yet for Morrison. Although nominated for the National Book Award, it did not win, and forty-eight African-American writers and critics signed a letter of protest, which was published in The New York Times
Yes, I wonder why an awards committee would be prompted to chose an extremely popular book by a black author following two years of Black Lives Matter uprisings and numerous nation-wide protests relating to race issues in America? Especially with a white supremacist White House. What possible reason could there be? Hmm......
I agree with Hoodoo's assessment, and considering he's apparently the only one here who's actually read the novel besides me I really don't care how awful you think my opinion on the matter is.
As I noted in the other thread, a Pulitzer judge from the 2012 award stated that he and his fellow judges rejected a novel because they didn't believe it did anything that Toni Morrison hadn't previously covered in Beloved. I feel much the same way about this novel. So there is a precedent for rejecting it.
There are good ideas in the book, but to me it falls flat in so many other levels that this doesn't matter. If anyone would like to discuss the actual merits of the novel after reading it I fell like that would be a much better topic of discussion here.
Stevie! Did you know you can order signed copies of her books off of her website? I keep on hinting to my parents that it is the only thing I want for Christmas, but they never seem to look into it. One of these days I'm going to have to go buy one myself. I've thought of driving from my hometown in Canada to Minneapolis with friends just to visit her book store and accidentally run into her.
I'm glad I'm not to only one in the world with that silly hope. May one of us, one day, be so lucky to meet her (and report back to the other upon doing so).
I'm generally one to defend literary prizes when many others are bashing them. Hell, I was defending the Pulitzer a week or so ago in the NBCCA thread.
I work in a used bookstore very near to Erdrich's store. Keep thinking she'll drop by and I'm always prepared to see her. (Been three years, though, and no such luck!)
I'm a slow reader, and I come to these forums to keep me in the loop about what is good and what might not be. Often, when language gets expressive, it tends to rub a few people the wrong way. But that's what's important about discussions...getting the passion out. If Isahinp bashes a few books, that's fine with me. If you're drinking a beer with friends and someone says "Kafka is shit!" ('cause they can't stand cockroaches) you don't throw her out of the bar. You say "have another beer and shut up!"
I do think that the big America awards are something to be skeptical of. They do tend to ride contemporary waves of opinion, but alas, that is what they capture...a moment in contemporary passion. A year on, something else will dominate the zeit and the geist and be the next thing to drape with perhaps undue adoration. And all of us will continue to love the books we love for reasons we often stumble in explaining.
Half Price Books in St. Louis Park. Haven't been to Magers and Quinn or The Book House yet. Somewhat new to the area.
I think that's a strange thing to say. We're a fairly unique store. Any book-lover (even a famous book-lover with a bookstore) would be excited to come through our doors.
Last edited by WolfmanK; 18-Apr-2017 at 08:02.
It's a gigantic chain of strip mall stores. Fairly unique? In what way even remotely? There's dozens of them in my area (I'm a frequent seller and buyer, i oerodnally enjoy them). They buy assorted books, records, dvds, board games, etc. It's a used book store like nearly any other.