Richard Powers Wins the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

April 15, 2019 | 15 books mentioned 2

Richard Powers’s novel The Overstory was awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

In a starred review, Kirkus called the book “a magnificent achievement: a novel that is, by turns, both optimistic and fatalistic, idealistic without being naïve.”

Here’s a sampling of this year’s Pulitzer winners and finalists, with bonus links where available.






General Nonfiction:

Winners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer website.

This is the byline used for site announcements and for articles by more than one Millions contributor.


  1. William Gass: “Because the Pulitzer Prize in fiction takes dead aim at mediocrity and almost never misses; the prize is simply not given to work of the first rank, rarely even to the second; and if you believed yourself to be a writer of that eminence, you are now assured of being over the hill – not a sturdy mountain flower but a little wilted lily of the valley.”

  2. Fret not, Anon, Richard “Patzer” Powers is just a token white guy… he isn’t being lauded for being a mediocrity, he’s merely embodying being lucky to be one.

    Here’s a numbingly Franzenoid sample from the prize-winner:

    “HE CONSULTS with his advisor. Professor Mieke Van Dijk, she of the sublime Dutch bob, clipped
    consonants, and soft-core softened vowels. In fact, she makes him confer with her every two weeks, in her office up in College Ten, hoping the enforced check-in will jump-start his research.

    “You are dragging your feet over nothing.”

    In fact, he has his feet up, reclining on her Victorian daybed across the office from her desk, as if she’s psychoanalyzing him. It amuses them both.

    “Dragging . . . ? Not at all. I am utterly paralyzed.”

    “But why? You make too big a deal about this. Think of a thesis . . .”—she can’t pronounce the th—“as a long seminar project. You don’t have to save the world.”

    “I don’t? Can I at least save a nation-state or two?”

    She laughs; her wide overbite quickens his pulse. “Listen, Adam. Pretend this has nothing to do with your career. Nothing to do with any professional approval. What do you, personally, want to discover? What would give you enjoyment to study for a couple of years?”

    He watches the words spill from that pretty mouth, free from the socialscientific jargon that she tends to drop into in seminars. “This enjoyment you speak about . . .”

    “Tsh. You want to know something.”

    He wants to know whether she has ever, even once, thought of him sexually. It isn’t inconceivable. She’s only a decade older than he is. And she is —he wants to say robust. He feels a weird need to tell her how he got here, in her office, looking for a thesis topic. Wants to draw his entire intellectual history in a straight line—from daubing nail polish on the abdomens of ants to watching his beloved undergraduate mentor die—then ask her where the line leads next.”

    Tepidly dire stuff. The stylistic difference between this “magnificent achievement” and ten thousand bland TV entertainments of the past and present = ?

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