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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
|Source: Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group|
Since it began in 1917, the Pulitzer Prize has been a seal of quality when it comes to journalism, literature and musical composition. Every year, the administrators at Columbia University in New York judge 21 categories, giving 20 of the winners a certificate, $10,000 in cash and place in the history books.
But sometimes, the judges cannot find a book that is worthy of the prize, as evidenced by the administrators’ decision not to award the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to anyone this year. This isn’t the first time it’s happened; in the 1970s, three separate years saw no prizes for any fiction writers, and in the 1940s and 1950s, it happened twice for each decade.
But the books that do win the award are considered recommended reading for anyone even vaguely interested in literature. We profile some of the most celebrated fiction books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, and aim to check them off of our reading lists. How many have you read?
2011: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is unique in its narrative style, and, as such, has critics divided over whether it is either a collection of short stories or a novel. Either way, most of the 13 chapters follow Bennie Salazar, an ageing rock executive, his assistant, Sasha, and a number of their friends. The stories concern mostly self-destructive characters, who take on lives that bring them far away from where they first wished to be.
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
After its release, this post-apocalyptic novel made it to Hollywood, where a film of the same name starring Viggo Mortensen was created. The book follows the story of a father and his young son over a period of a number of months, as they attempt to survive on what has become a barren wasteland of a planet. There are no explanations over what happened to the earth, only that the event had destroyed most of civilisation, placing incredible hardship on those who survived.
1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
This was the first novel ever to win the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in the same year. It follows Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged New Jersey real estate agent, as he assesses his place in the wider world. He spends a holiday weekend visiting his ex-wife, his troubled son, his current lover, one of the tenants of one of his properties, and some clients looking for their perfect home.
1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
This is based on the true story of the African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who briefly escaped slavery before the American Civil War. She fled to Ohio, a free state, but was recaptured by group of slave drivers and taken back to Kentucky, leading her to kill her two-year-old daughter rather than risk her growing up a slave. However, the daughter, named Beloved, returns to haunt her mother’s home at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati.
1973: The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
The story of the daughter thrown into emotional turmoil with her dead father’s wife, this short novel captivated audiences around the world when it was released. It follows Laurel, whose father surrenders to his age and dies slowly. But her father’s second wife, Fay, is younger than Laurel, shrewd and unwelcome when it comes to going back to the family’s home town. Laurel reels through old memories, eventually coming to a place of understanding.
1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of the most famous works of literature of the 20th century, is taught in schools across the world. The plot is loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbours, plus on an event that happened near her hometown when she was 10 years old. It’s known for its warmth and humour, despite dealing with serious issues such racial inequality and rape. And the narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, is portrayed as a superb role model.
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