'Less' By Andrew Sean Greer Just Won The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction, And It's A Surprise Choice
For bibliophiles everywhere, the day the Pulitzer Prize winners are announced is akin to the excitement film-lovers have over the Oscars Best Picture or football fans feel during the winning touchdown of the Super Bowl — and for good reason. It is undeniable that the Pulitzer is the most prestigious literary award out there: the nominees for the prize are never announced beforehand. And while this means that the announcements for all the winners in every category are waited for with bated breath, the Pulitzer Price in Fiction in particular tends to have readers everywhere on the edge of their seat. So Monday's announcement that the 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction is Less by Andrew Sean Greer is one that readers will be talking about for months to come. Fellow 2018 nominees include The Idiot by Elif Batuman and In the Distance by Hernan Diaz.
Less has been called a scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, and a bittersweet romance of chances lost. The book follows Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn 50. When he receives a wedding invitation from his ex-boyfriend of nine years, he decides instead to run away from his problems by attending a few half-baked literary events around the world. He will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face.
The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction is awarded each year "for distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life," according to the prize's official website. And the prestigious prize comes not only with serious bragging rights, but with a hefty $15,000 prize as well. Greer joins the ranks of Pulitzer Prize-winning literary legends like Ernest Hemingway and Edith Wharton, and modern luminaries like Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Díaz. Less was a surprise choice from the Pulitzer committee — many in the industry expected to see Jesmyn Ward's National Book Award winning Sing Unburied Sing, Min Jin Lee's Pachinko or George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo take the top prize this year.
Previous winners of the coveted Fiction award include Colson Whitehead, who took the top prize in 2017 for The Underground Railroad; Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer in 2016; and Anthony Doerr for All the Light We Cannot See in 2015. Let's just say, if you haven't already managed to read these books already, you're definitely going to want to add them to your TBR list ASAP.
For a full list of the winners and finalists, visit the Pulitzer Prize official website.