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“Grossman and Patchett, Let’s Get it on!” It’s ‘Literary-Duel-Time’…

April 19, 2012

The PBS Newshour went dirty tonight, resorting to the seldom used ratings-card (cue theme-whistle for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly): they went literary duel. The dual paned, split TV screen (they were in different cities) struggled to keep the two bloodthirsty writers, and their dangerous quills from one another. Okay, they were in different cities, being interviewed and mediated by the calm, super-even-keeled, Jeffrey ‘Patient One’ Brown. They gathered to battle it out over why the twenty member Pulitzer Board, made up of such random yet well-fitting people as The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson, author Junot Diaz, The Wall St. Journal‘s Paul Gigot, and The New York Times‘ Tom Friedman, chose not to award the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year.

Ann Patchett is the author of such notables Bel Canto, The Magician’s Assistant, and State of Wonder and runs Parnassis Books in Nashville, Tennessee. Lev ‘the’ Grossman hails from Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of The Magician King, and The Magicians. He writes about books and technology for Time Magazine. Patchett feels the prize is a highly symbolic, obligatory’esque duty of the Board, and a major factor in promoting both reading and writing. As the owner of an independent bookstore, in an ailing industry, Patchett also expressed how more than anything except Christmas, the Pulitzers bring people and business to her store (and other stores, too, assumedly). Like the Oscars, and/or the Grammys (shouldn’t it be ‘Grammies‘?, the Pulitzers serve as the main medium for recognizing the vast reaches of writing’s realm.

Grossman surprised me, and although at first I found it easy to take Patchett’s side, the integrity and principle behind his take eventually won my mind’s eye over. Lev posited that there just aren’t great, deserving novels written every year. His argument actually lifts the award up, and reinforced the integrity and his respect for the Pulitzer of Fiction, and in general. Great novels are hard to find, and Grossman’s take only increased the value and prestige of the prize.

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2012 Nominees

The Pulitzer Board

Ann Patchett

Lev Grossman

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