Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
1930 Nobel Prize for Literature
1926 Pulitzer (declined)
Martin Arrowsmith is an aspiring biologist. He's very serious about his work but he can't seem to get to it. First he marries and has to practice medicine so he can afford a wife. When that doesn't work out he moves to a larger town to become a public health officer. After that he gets on at a top-notch reasearch facility. But Arrowsmith's problem is that he doesn't know how to play the game. Everything from small town gossip to big town politics to big city jealousies get in his way.
This was an enjoyable book. It had no big ideas. Just a small one--sometimes there's no particular cause for failure.