For the first time in 35 years, no Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded—but that doesn't mean no works of fiction were considered. The Pulitzer jurors narrowed down the possibilities to three novels … and then the Pulitzer board decided, "after lengthy consideration," not to give the prize to any of them, since none received a majority of votes from the panel. The books that almost made it, per the BBC: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Swamplandia by Karen Russell, and Train Dreams by Denis Johnson.
Even the three jurors for the fiction Pulitzer, who were in charge of shortlisting those books and read about 300 novels each in order to do so, were taken aback by the lack of a prize, the Daily Beast reports. "Honestly, I feel angry on behalf of three great American novels," says one. "I can safely say that anger and surprise/shock, and just sort of feeling this is an inexplicable decision on the part of the board—that really characterizes, I think, the way all three of us feel. The obvious answer is to let the [jury] pick. We’re the people who have gone through the 300 novels." Don't expect to find out what went wrong—the board is forbidden from discussing the proceedings.