On May 4, the Pulitzer Board announced the winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes. The Prizes were launched in 1917 and are currently awarded in the areas of Journalism, Books, Drama, and Music.
Alluding to the worldwide difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy said in her announcement of the winners, “[T]he arts have the power to sustain, unite and inspire us during times of uncertainty and fear. Many are finding needed distraction in the pages of a book, solace in a beautiful song, comfort in a poem, and joy in a recorded theatrical performance.”
To see the full list of Pulitzer Prize winners, visit Pulitzer.org. Congratulations to both the finalists and the winners, and thank you for bringing your books into the world so we can read them.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead—author of The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2017—tells the story of Elwood Curtis, a young black man in the 1960s sent to the Nickel Academy to be reformed. Like many who loved Whitehead’s newest novel, the Amazon Books editors named The Nickel Boys one of the best books of 2019. Said senior editor Chris Schluep in his review, “The Nickel Boys is both an enjoyable read and a powerful portrayal of racism and inequality that acts as a lever to pry against our own willingness to ignore it.”
Sweet Taste of Liberty by W. Caleb McDaniel
In the mid 1800s, Henrietta Wood was born into slavery, legally freed, abducted and enslaved again, and then gained freedom a second time. Wood took her abductor to court and was awarded restitution for her slavery. A powerful true story of a woman who won a legal victory against the odds.
Sontag by Benjamin Moser
Susan Sontag was a polarizing figure in her time. Incisive, witty, and more than willing to rock the boat, Sontag lived a life very much in public view while she struggled privately with love, her writing, and the pervading social values that did not value her. Moser’s biography of this influential figure delves into Sontag’s restricted archives and into interviews new and old to reveal the person who shaped our national conversations about creativity and culture.
The End of the Myth by Greg Grandin
Winner: General Nonfiction
I can’t describe The End of the Myth better than David W. Blight, who won the Pulitzer last year for his own book, so I won’t even try. Blight says, “A compelling examination of the American history of frontiers, by one of the most innovative and imaginative historians in any field. Troubling but inspiring, this is intellectual history for a broad readership; its sweep and force are stunning. Grandin brilliantly gives our current conditions of aggression, nostalgia, and racism deep historical grounding for the benefit of all who will listen.” The End of the Myth was also named a Pulitzer finalist in the history category.
The Undying by Anne Boyer
Winner: General Nonfiction
The subtitle of The Undying conveys the territory Boyer boldly travels in her memoir of her struggle with an aggressive cancer: “Pain, vulnerability, mortality, medicine, art, time, dreams, data, exhaustion, cancer, and care.” Unwilling to be swept along by the platitudes of the cancer industry, Boyer calls out what is often unspoken, delivering a remarkable and unforgettable work.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
The Pulitzer Board describes Brown’s poetry as “[a] collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.” This piercing volume that touches on freedom, safety, and identity was also named a finalist in 2019 for the National Book Award.
The Pulitzer Board announced the 2020 Prize winners in fiction, history, biography, general nonfiction, and poetry.