The woman lost her soul, Bob got a t-shirt

Bob Shacochis, author of “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.” (Credit Barbara Petersen) Bob Shacochis, author of “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.” (Credit Barbara Petersen)

Bob Shacochis’s novel “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” almost won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this spring — but didn’t. This photo says it all: “I was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

He’s kidding.

The t-shirt came from one of his former students, Josh McCall. Shacochis had recommended him for an assignment at Mayborn magazine about literary awards. “He wanted to thank me by sending me that t-shirt after he was appalled to learn that Pulitzer finalists receive exactly nothing from the Pulitzer board, not even an invitation to the awards ceremony luncheon,” Shacochis says. “Still, when you’re talking Pulitzer, being close is close enough, and I’m delighted to have that pretty little sticker pasted onto the cover of my paperback.

In fact, that pretty little sticker is the reason Grove/Atlantic has decided to move up the paperback release of “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.” Originally scheduled for mid-August, it’ll start appearing in stores by June 16.

Deb Seager, director of publicity at Grove/Atlantic, says sales have been “very strong” for this demanding, 713-page novel about a father and daughter who serve as U.S. spies. “We went back to press twice,” she says. “Though the size may be daunting, once you crack the spine, it reads like a thriller, and I think the reviews relayed that quite well.”

(Courtesy of Grove/Atlantic) (Courtesy of Grove/Atlantic)

Shacochis, 62, is modest about his success with the novel. “My three-month-long book tour, which ended in November, was par for the course,” he says. “One part exhaustion, two parts gratification, one part humiliation. Since I don’t have a Facebook page or a Website, the responses I’ve received from readers have all come from people I know who have my email address. Although if you want to publish my email address so readers I don’t know can contact me, I suppose that would be okay . . . unless you tell me that’s insane.”

(That’s insane. If you want to contact Shacochis, send your mail to me, and I’ll forward it.)

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.

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