Holland Cotter of The New York Times for Criticism.
The Pulitzer prize announced the winners yesterday and Cotter was distinguished “for his wide ranging reviews of art, from Manhattan to China, marked by acute observation, luminous writing and dramatic storytelling.” He was competing against Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who I am not familiar with, and Sebastian Smee of The Boston Globe “for his fresh, accessible and energetic reviews on the New England art scene, creating for readers a sense of discovery even as he provides discerning analysis.”
I’d lean toward Smee over Cotter on mostly everything. Smee is a real joy to read, and his work has been truly “fresh” and “energetic.”
Ah well. Cotter can enter the illustrious annals of Roger Ebert for Criticism, along with Robert Frost (four times) for Poetry; Eugene O’Neill (four times) and August Wilson (twice) for Drama; and William Faulkner (twice), Norman Mailer (twice), and John Updike (twice) for Fiction.
Did you know you had to enter to win the Pulitzer? To be considered, people must go to the Pulitzer’s website and print out and submit a form along with a $50 entrance fee. Then the winner gets a cash prize of $10,000. For such a prestigious competition, it seems a little grubby.
Do you think Holland Cotter sat at his desk anxiously filling out the form last year, or do you think he has applied every year for the past 10? What about John Updike? And maybe it wasn’t fair of Robert Frost to keep nominating himself; 4 Pulitzers should be enough for anybody.
I’m assuming these individuals are motivated by the glory, rather than the money, especiallly as $10,000 is going to make or break any of them. Still, what makes you wake up one morning and think ‘Today I must apply for the Pulitzer. I am the top critic/playwright/_____ this year. Where’s that $50 check?”
What I mean to say is, perhaps a selections committee would be more dignified.