Congratulations to Adam Johnson, author of North Korean saga The Orphan Master’s Son, which was announced today as the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. (Another hearty congrats to Random House, which published the novel.) Mr. Johnson is preceded by last year’s winner….absolutely no one at all, as 2012 marked the first time in 35 years that the Pulitzer committee decided that no fiction book was worth of the prize. (However, several made it as finalists, including Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel The Pale King, and Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams.)
Thankfully, Mr. Johnson’s win means there will be no rioting outside the Pulitzer committee meeting house from irate publishers, agents and booksellers, all of whom have as much (if not more) of a stake in a win than the writers themselves. As Michele Filgate, the events coordinator at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn told The New York Times today, “We’re counting on a Pulitzer win this year because of all the literary awards, I feel like the Pulitzer sells the most books…Which is why it was so disappointing last year that there wasn’t one at all.”
The Orphan Master’s Son, was described by The New Inquiry’s M. Francis Wolff as “one of those rare work of high ambition that follow through on all of its promises,” and was praised for its examination “both the Orwellian horrors of life in the DPRK and the voyeurism of Western media.” Mr. Johnson beat this year’s other finalists, which included What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf) and The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown).
And with all the outrage over last year, it goes to follow that Mr. Johnson’s win means that all book publishing has been saved from the brink of collapse, and there is no better time to take out that second mortgage to open up a small press or independent book store.