By Thomas F. Staley
For the first time since 1977, judges for the Pulitzer Prize declined to name a winning book of fiction in 2012. As surprised and dismayed as I was that one of the most venerable honors in American literature was not awarded in a year filled with outstanding fiction, I can only presume that the prize wasn't doled out because it was a dead heat between the finalists. Two of the finalists, to our delight, were authors whose archives are housed at the Ransom Center: Denis Johnson, for his fine novella Train Dreams, and David Foster Wallace, for his highly anticipated posthumous and unfinished novel The Pale King. The Ransom Center acquired Wallace's archive in 2009 and Johnson's in 2010. The third finalist was Swamplandia!, the debut novel by the young and talented Karen Russell, an up-and-comer who should be on all of our reading lists.
The winner of the Man Booker Prize was also a Ransom Center writer. Julian Barnes captured the honor for his novel The Sense of an Ending. Barnes's archive joined the Ransom Center's collections in 2002.
That so many of the highest accolades of the past year in contemporary literature have gone to Ransom Center writers is certainly satisfying but no great surprise to us. We have long believed that our collections reflect an exceptional class of contemporary writers who are making deeply important contributions to the literature of our era. And the collections are growing. Among our recent acquisitions are the archives of Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee and T. C. Boyle, who has been honored with more awards than I have space to list in this column. I hope you enjoy Boyle's piece inside the pages of this newsletter about his archive and his recent visit to the Ransom Center.
—Thomas F. Staley