For the first time in 35 years, there will be no Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category. Some of our favorite books, like A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and March, have won the award in the past.

There were three fiction finalists, however: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (FSG); Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Knopf); and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown).

There were three people on the fiction jury (Susan Larson, Maureen Corrigan and Michael Cunningham), and according to a tweet from @bookbeast (the editor of The Daily Beast's book section), there must be a majority vote for a winner to be declared. In other words, two out of three judges must agree on a winner, and this year it didn't happen.  [ETA: Though this is true, the board can refuse to accept the judges' decision. On Tuesday, April 17, judge Susan Larson was the first to clarify that the judges DID make a decision, but the board exercised their option to not award the prize.]

In the nonfiction category, the award went to The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton). The finalists are One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman (Norton) and Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl (Public Affairs).

The winner in the biography category is George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press).

The winner in the history category is Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable (Viking).

The winner in poetry is Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf).

Read the full list of 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winners and finalists here.

Are you surprised by the fiction announcement? Do you think there was a novel (or collection of short stories) published in 2011 that is deserving of the award?


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