Good news: Elizabeth Strout has won the Pulitzer prize for fiction for her short story collection Olive Kitteridge. It's the first collection to win the Pulitzer since 2000, when Jhumpa Lahiri won for Interpreter of Maladies. Olive Kitteridge, was a close contender for The Story Prize and one of our notable books of 2008. I hope this award puts it into a lot more people's hands.
I don't keep up with the chatter, but I doubt many people expected Olive Kitteridge to win the Pulitzer, even though it made a lot of year-end best books lists and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards. Book awards are highly subjective, and the choices largely depend on who's doing the choosing. This year's jurors were writer R.H.W. Dillard, journalist Susan Larson, and librarian Nancy Pearl (who was a judge for The Story Prize a few years ago). The other two finalists were Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich and All Souls by Christine Schutt. In any event, 2008 had several exceptional story collections, and I'm glad one of them has won a major book award (besides The Story Prize). Congratulations, Elizabeth--keep those stories coming.