Announcing the Pulitzers for Books

Chris Schluep on April 18, 2018
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The biggest news to come out of this week's announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners was that a rap album won for music. Perhaps Kendrick Lamar has garnered so many other awards (for instance, 12 Grammies), he wasn't surprised by the news. But the Pulitzer for music just got a whole lot more interesting.

One person who was surprised to win a Pulitzer this year was Andrew Sean Greer, who won the award for fiction. I read his Twitter. It's revealing. It says: "OMG I won the Pulitzer Prize? Nobody is more surprised than I am! I was working at my job here Italy and had just persuaded a dog to let me put her into polka dot pajamas (not my dog) when I heard the news. I didn’t believe it. So I called my friend Michael Chabon, who screamed"

It's not clear what all of that means, but it's endearing and he was genuinely surprised. And it's refreshing to see that kind of candor and excitement in the book world--or anywhere in the world.

Here are the Pulitzer winners for books (the descriptions are from the Pulitzer committee's announcement):


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Fiction: Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer - A generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.


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History: The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis - An important environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that brings crucial attention to Earth’s 10th-largest body of water, one of the planet’s most diverse and productive marine ecosystems.


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Biography: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser - A deeply researched and elegantly written portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, that describes how Wilder transformed her family’s story of poverty, failure and struggle into an uplifting tale of self-reliance, familial love and perseverance.


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Poetry: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart - A volume of unyielding ambition and remarkable scope that mixes long dramatic poems with short elliptical lyrics, building on classical mythology and reinventing forms of desires that defy societal norms.


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Nonfiction: Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr. - An examination of the historical roots of contemporary criminal justice in the U.S., based on vast experience and deep knowledge of the legal system, and its often-devastating consequences for citizens and communities of color.


You can see all of the Pulitzer Prizes here.


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