May 16, 2012
Pinch Pulitzer goes to David Foster Wallace
by Nick Davies
When the Pulitzer Prize board decided not to present an award for fiction last month, independent bookstores were frustrated at the lack of a winner, which would usually give them a sales boost from readers seeking out the year’s big winner (GalleyCat posted a roundup of tweets from booksellers reacting to the news the day after it was announced). So Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, took matters into its own hands by polling its customers to determine the “Pinch Pulitzer” winner, which ultimately went to David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King.
For two weeks, Longfellow had a ballot box at the front of the store open for nominations, the only criteria being that the book be a work of fiction by an American author, published in 2011. They also accepted submissions by email for people who couldn’t get to the store and didn’t mind giving up anonymity, and posted a list of suggestions online. Once the votes were tallied last week, Longfellow announced that Wallace’s unfinished novel had taken the prize and would be available at the store at a 25% discount. The Pale King had been one of the three nominees put forth to the Pulitzer board by the jury for fiction.
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.