The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It recognizes distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, published during the preceding calendar year. As the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, it was one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year. (No Novel prize was awarded, so it was inaugurated in 1918, in a sense).
Finalists have been announced from 1980, ordinarily two others beside the winner.
In 31 years under the "Novel" name, the prize was awarded 27 times; in its first 66 years to 2013 under the "Fiction" name, 59 times. No award has been given 11 times, including its first year 1917, and it has never been split. Three writers have won two prizes each in the Fiction category: Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner, and John Updike.
^ abThe fiction jury had recommended the 1941 award go to Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Although the Pulitzer Board initially agreed with that judgment, the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, persuaded the board to reverse its judgment because he deemed the novel offensive, and no award was given that year. McDowell, Edwin. "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies." New York Times 11 May 1984: C26.
^The three novels the Pulitzer committee put forth for consideration to the Pulitzer board were: Losing Battles by Eudora Welty; Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow; and The Wheel of Love by Joyce Carol Oates. The board rejected all three and opted for no award. Source: Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich. The Pulitzer Prize Archive, Volume 10, "Novel/Fiction Awards 1917-1994". Munich: K.G. Saur, 1994. LX-LXI.