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Who will win this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction? One website has created an algorithm designed to predict who will win and successfully predicted Jennifer Egan’s win in 2011 for her book, A Visit From the Goon Squad. In the weeks leading up to the award’s announcement (April 15), Toonari Post will be reviewing several of the more discussed books from last year and try to see which book, above all others, deserves the award.
Two of the most discussed books this year were The Round House by Louise Erdrich and The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, and it is not hard to see why. Both are phenomenal novels, and very likely one of these authors will come away with the award.
The Round House is the story of a rape and the subsequent trial of a Native American woman living on a reservation. Narrated through the eyes of her adolescent son, the novel deals primarily with racial injustice. It is comparable to Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, and has become a favorite with the general public.
Ironically, the book’s big success could spell its doom for the Pulitzer: late last year it won the National Book Award, and although it is not unprecedented, books rarely win both awards. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, published in 1993, was the last book to accomplish this feat. Could the literary strength of The Round House help it break a 20-year curse? It is more than possible.
The Orphan Master’s Son is the about the life of the fictional Jun Do, an orphan in North Korea who slowly rises through the ranks to become one of the most powerful men in the country. It is a brilliant achievement and a break out book for author Adam Johnson, who has previously published a collection of short stories entitled Emporium and the novel Parasites Like Us. Through the horror of the North Korean regime, Johnson is able in his latest book to create a book that is part thriller, part love story, part internal crisis and much more. There is something here for everyone to enjoy.
However, the Pulitzer Prize primarily deals with books that deal with American ideals and citizens. Although part of the book is set in Texas and North Korea is constantly compared and contrasted with the US in the book, it could be simply not American enough to win. There have been exceptions before, though, and the massive scope of the book is comparable to the sprawling plot lines of previous Pulitzer winners, so only time will tell if the judges decide the book features enough American “values” to merit the award.
Stay tuned at Toonari Post for more Pulitzer news and the reveal of the winners on April 15.
Image credit: jenniferegan.com