Pulitzer Surprises

A debut novel, published by a small indie press, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Paul Harding
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press – (2009-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 193413712X / 9781934137123

Bellevue Literary Press was founded in 2005 and is affiliated with NYU’s School of Medicine.

As a result of the announcement, the book raced up Amazon’s sales rankings, from #162,012 to #10.

It may be a surprise that the winner is a debut book and from such a small (one could say “tiny”) press, but it hasn’t been exactly unsung. It had already appeared on several year-end best books lists (Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Amazon) and received strong prepub reviews from Publishers Weekly (an “outstanding debut”), Library Journal (“a solid addition for literary collections”) as well as a star from Booklist (“a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense”). In the consumer review media, it was covered by the Boston Globe (in a review by Chris Bojalian), the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Hartford Courant and the L.A. Times (which also named it as a finalist for their book prize) and it was an IndieNext pick for Jan. ’09. However, the New York Times, both the daily and the Book Review, overlooked it.

According to Publishers Weekly, just 15,000 copies were in print before the announcement. Bellevue is planning to go back to press on the book.

Paul Harding’s next book, Enon will be published by Random House; it was sold at auction at the end of 2009 to Susan Kamill, RH’s Editor-in-Chief (via Publishers Marketplace); no pub date yet.

The two finalists in Fiction are both short story collections. Love in Infant Monkeys, by Lydia Millet, which is also from a small indie press, Soft Skull. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Norton), was a National Book Award finalist.

More mainstream, but less heralded, is the winner in the General Nonfiction category; The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, by David E. Hoffman (Doubleday), which did not appear on major end-of-the-year best lists.

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy
David E. Hoffman
Retail Price: $35.00
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0385524374 / 9780385524377

Audio and eBook available from OverDrive.

The finalists in that category have been more recognized:

How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities, John Cassidy, FSG

The Evolution of God, Robert Wright, Little, Brown

Below are the winners and finalists in the other book categories (the full list of all categories is here).


Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, Liaquat Ahamed, Penguin


Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, Greg Grandin, Holt

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, by Gordon S. Wood, Oxford University Press


Versed, Rae Armantrout, Wesleyan


Tryst, Angie Estes, Oberlin College Press

Inseminating the Elephant, Lucia Perillo, Copper Canyon Press


The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, T.J. Stiles, Knopf


Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, John Milton Cooper, Jr., Knopf

Cheever: A Life, Blake Bailey, Knopf

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