The winners and finalists for the Pultizer Prize were announced today. I had recently speculated that The Road wasn’t a “typical Pulitzer candidate” in that the Pulitzer typically recognizes books that are less post-apocalyptic, but The Road suddenly appears unstoppable. (Note as well that we now officially have a book that was picked by Oprah before it won the Pulitzer. I bet that surprises some people.) Here are this year’s Pulitzer winners and finalists with excerpts where available:Fiction:Winner: The Road by Cormac McCarthyAfter This by Alice McDermott – excerptThe Echo Maker by Richard Powers – excerptGeneral Nonfiction:Winner: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright – excerptCrazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete EarleyFiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks – excerptHistory:Winner: The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff – excerptMiddle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005 by James T. CampbellMayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick – excerptBiography:Winner: The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate – excerptJohn Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty by Arthur H. Cash – excerpt (pdf)Andrew Carnegie by David NasawWinners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer Web site.
George Saunders’ collection of stories, In Persuasion Nation came out this year to rave reviews. He is also the author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. Earlier this year, Saunders explained to me why he could never have a blog (internal “labor dispute”), but, hoping that he wouldn’t mind making a small contribution to one, I asked him to share the best book(s) he read this year, and he generously obliged.The highpoint of my reading year was getting the chance to re-read Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith in preparation for public events with them; I was inspired by the kindness and courage and breadth-of-vision of both of these writers. I also really enjoyed The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright – an amazingly well-researched account of the roots of Al Qaeda.Thanks, George!
Award season is in full swing now. The Booker was awarded yesterday, and the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature will be announced tomorrow or soon after, but today is all about the finalists for the National Book Award. As Ed remarked, in so many words, for the second year in a row, the judges have managed to deliver a crop of fiction finalists that satisfyingly occupy the sweet spot between obscurity and being, well, too obvious. On to the finalists in all categories, and, where available, excerpts from the books.Fiction:Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski – an excerpt of sortsA Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus – excerptThe Echo Maker by Richard Powers – (very short) excerptEat the Document by Dana Spiotta – excerptThe Zero by Jess Walter – excerptNon-fiction:At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 by Taylor Branch – excerptImperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran – excerpt 1, 2The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan – excerptOracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present by Peter Hessler – excerptThe Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright – excerptPoetry:Averno by Louise Gluck – poemChromatic by H.L. HixAngle of Yaw by Ben Lerner – poemsSplay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey – poemCapacity by James McMichael – poemYoung People’s Literature:The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson – excerptKeturah and Lord Death by Martine LeavittSold by Patricia McCormick – excerptThe Rules of Survival by Nancy WerlinAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – pages