The finalists were not a shoddy bunch: "Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson, "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell and "The Pale King," by the late David Foster Wallace.
Other highly acclaimed novels of 2011 would have been worthy winners, too. Among them: "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach and "The Tiger's Wife" by Téa Obreht.
This isn't the first time the judges have withheld a prize -- it has happened six times since 1948, the most recent in 1977. Among the books published that year was "Song of Solomon" by Toni Morrison, and you have to woinder whether the judges would like a do-over for that year.
Other literary prizes for 2012 were:
History -- "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" by the late Manning Marable