Written by Jon WilliamsOn Monday, the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes were awarded by Columbia University. While most closely associated with journalism (being named after newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer), Prizes are also awarded in several literary categories, in addition to one for music.
This year’s fiction and non-fiction awards went to a pair of incredibly deserving books. The Goldfinch, released in October, was Donna Tartt’s first novel in eleven years, following up 2002’s The Little Friend (currently out of print). The Goldfinch opens with the main character, teenaged Theo, surviving a terrorist bombing (which claims the life of his mother) at an art museum, and follows as the repercussions of that day reverberate throughout his life. Tartt is an interesting figure in the literary world, shunning interviews and fame and producing new books only rarely; The Goldfinch is just her third novel, with the first being published in 1992.
In the non-fiction category, this year’s Prize went to Dan Fagin for his book Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. Toms River, New Jersey, is a town renowned for its propensity for sending youngsters to play in the Little League World Series. It has another history, though, as home to a cancer cluster that in 2001 was legally linked to a pattern of toxic dumping. Fagin brings to light the story of how that judgment came about, including the deception of those who kept the dumping going on for so long and the struggles of those who had to live with the consequences of their actions.
With their wins, these authors have etched their names in history alongside a number of well-known books both classic and contemporary. In just the past ten years, Pulitzer Prizes for fiction have gone to such books as A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2011), Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2009), and The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2007), just to name a few. Since the award was first given in 1918, winners have included The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1928), The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1940), The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (1952), The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1961), A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1981), Beloved by Toni Morrison (1988), and The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1999).
Again, this is just a small sampling of the many wonderful and beloved books that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction over the years. Still more have won for non-fiction, in the general category as well as for history and biography. For a full selection of Pulitzer Prize winners available from CVS Midwest Tape, SmartBrowse ‘Pulitzer Prize’ on our homepage.