I finished the 2011 Battle of the Prizes, American Version (click here for the 2012 challenge). The challenge runs through January 31, 2012, so I finished early this year. I still have to finish the British Version.
This challenge pits winners of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction against the winners of the National Book Award.
I did not draw any grand conclusions from a comparison of the books that won the Pulizter compared to those that won the national, but I have a half-baked theory: I think that Pulitzer winners tend to be more accessible, more in the "good yarn" category; and National winners tend to be a bit more challenging, more willing to take chances. Because of this split, I think it is more likely that a random Pulitzer winner will still be enjoyable, while any given National winner may not have aged so well -- what may have seemed commendably edgy when it first came out now can be just trying to a reader.
Like I said, this theory as, at best, half baked. I'd say it holds true for the two Pulitzers I read and, somewhat, for the two Nationals. Both Nationals were more challenging and had experimental components to them, but The Hair of Harold Roux was knockout entertainment.
Here is my list of books -- links click to my reviews:
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler on Rose City Reader (Pulitzer)
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren on Rose City Reader (Pulitzer)
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier on Rose City Reader (National)
The Hair of Harold Roux on Rose City Reader (National)
Please visit the main challenge page to see the 2011 list of other participants and their reviews.
Please visit the 2012 Battle of the Prizes, American Version, to sign up for the 2012 challenge.