Posted April 7, 2014 by in Book Lists

2014 Pulitzer Prize Predictions, Pt. 1


ound the trumpets! Well, that might be bad. How about this instead: use a few of those mid-year sick days and cuddle up inside your favorite blanket. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for us Bookkaholics. We’ve been waiting for it since Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son (see our inaugural book debate and Pulitzer quiz for more about it) was declared the best of 2012. Finally, on Monday, April 14th, we will have a new chosen one that catches the big one—the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

What is that I hear? You haven’t had time to read those books that you picked up at your local indie bookstore on that rainy, small business Saturday? It’s okay. With enough time between now and next Monday to get caught up on at least a few of the titles that might stand a chance, here are our 2014 Pulitzer Prize predictions if you want to win that office (or library) pool:

 The Front-Runners:

 1. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Maybe A Tale for the Time Being is an unusual choice to kick off a list of 2014′s predictions for the Pulitzer Prize. Ozeki’s tale is one involving time travel, secret diaries, Hello Kitty, a sixteen-year-old Japanese narrator (for part of the book), and Buddhism, but it’s as truthful and hopeful as any book you’ll ever read. 

I believe it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.

Ozeki’s novel reads with back-and-forth narration between the young Nao and older Ruth—yes, same as the author, and it flows beautifully.  So much of the book takes places in different parts of the world, and characters die. It’s hard to find something solid to grasp. You know what, though? It’s just like real life. A Tale for the Time Being is a masterpiece and would be our best winner in years. (See Rebecca’s full review.)


 2. Someone by Alice McDermott

If you read last year’s winner, The Orphan Master’s Son, then you know that expansiveness and old-fashioned ambition sometimes pay off. Maybe it doesn’t back-to-back, though. Someone is a quiet, haunting novel about a woman named Marie. As readers, we don’t just read about Marie; instead, we become invested in her: we become her family. From childhood, through adulthood, McDermott’s exquisite novel takes us on a journey of life that even the most normal of us can appreciate.


3. Tenth of December by George Saunders

Who doesn’t love George Saunders? Um, no one. Somehow, the man takes topics such as cancer, death, and abduction and makes them accessible (and usually funny). A short story collection hasn’t won since Olive Kitteridge took it in 2009. Maybe it’s time for another.

It was like either: (A) I was a terrible guy who was knowingly doing this rotten thing over and over, or (B) it wasn’t so rotten, really, just normal, and the way to confirm it was normal was to keep doing it, over and over.


 4. The Son by Philipp Meyer

The Son is oddly absent from many year-end lists, but it has a Pulitzer feeling. It is one of the two most ambitious novels from 2013. It’s also one of the most complex and challenging books that you’ll ever read. Deciding to take on a period of Texas’s history that runs over 150 years, Meyer tackles content comparable to that of the great Western writers. The story is long and packed with dozens of characters, but it somehow manages to stay fresh and inviting.


 5. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

A curse! My favorite of the year won this year’s National Book Award, so its chances are damaged. You have to go back over a decade to find a novel that took both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer. That one was Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. Ah, how refreshing it would be, though, to reward a great comedic novel with our nation’s top literary prize. I know you’ve heard the comparisons between Mark Twain and James McBride.

I come to the understanding that maybe what was on the inside was more important, and that your outer covering didn’t count so much as folks thought it did, colored or white, man or woman.

I was hesitant to believe those wonderful accusations, but within the first chapter, I was sold.  McBride’s The Good Lord Bird is about a cross-dressing, scared, and roaming boy named Onion. Historical figures appear in almost every chapter; for example, we get to spend time with John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Something brilliant happens in reading this stunning novel: we want to reach into the world McBride paints and help Onion find his identity, strength, and courage, even if it puts us in danger. Onion becomes our son, and we just want him to be okay.


There you have it with our predictions for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. Check out my next post for some other titles to keep your eyes on. Until then, happy reading!

2014 Pulitzer Prize Predictions, Pt. 1 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

Bradley Sides

Bradley Sides is a graduate of the M. A. in English program from the University of North Alabama. He currently teaches junior English in Tennessee. His fiction appears (and is forthcoming) in Belle Rêve Literary Journal, Birmingham Arts Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Freedom Fiction Journal, Inwood Indiana, and Used Gravitrons. He is a contributor to Bookkaholic. He resides in Florence, Alabama, with his wife, and he is working on his debut novel.