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Pulitzer Prize for history, but not for fiction

The late Manning Marable won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for history, honored for a Malcolm X book. But no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for fiction.

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Members of the Philadelphia Inquirer staff react Monday after learning of their Pulitzer Prize for Public Service from their series on School Violence in Philadelphia. This year, no Pulitzer prize for fiction was given.

Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer/Reuters

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The late Manning Marable won the Pulitzer Prize for history Monday, honored for a Malcolm X book he worked on for decades, but did not live to see published. For the first time in 35 years, no fiction prize was given.

David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King," a novel assembled from notes he left behind at the time of his suicide in 2008, was among the finalists for fiction. Also cited were Karen Russell's "Swamplandia" and Denis Johnson's novella "Train Dreams." Johnson's novel "Tree of Smoke" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2008.

"The main reason is that no one of the three entries received a majority, and thus after lengthy consideration, no prize was awarded," said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. "There were multiple factors involved in these decisions, and we don't discuss in detail why a prize is given or not given."

News about the fiction category was greeted with surprise.

"No fiction prize!" Jane Smiley, a Pulitzer winner in 1992 for "A Thousand Acres," wrote on her Facebook page. "Not even to (Geraldine Brooks') 'Caleb's Crossing!' I did love that one."

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