“For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”
A simple directive, but one that has inspired hundreds of writers and has changed the course of literature itself. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which began in 1918 (as a prize for the novel) and continues to this day, is considered one of the most prestigious awards in American literature. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the National Book Award and often serves as a precursor for American Nobel Laureates. Many of the winners are indelible members of the literary canon.
And many others are forgotten.
As a lifelong reader and writer, I’ve been fascinated by the Pulitzer Prize for a number of years. Its origins, the twists and turns in its history, authors who won and haven’t won. The fact that 89 works of fiction have won the award, and I’ve only heard of roughly half. Read far fewer. And I consider myself reasonably well-read.
What makes certain books remembered and others forgotten? Are there hidden gems waiting to be rediscovered in this lengthy list of winners? Are there bloated, overrated works lurking here as well? These questions motivate me to start this project. A quest to read and review all 89 prize winners, with more to come as the years go by.
I have no formal qualifications. I majored in English in college, I write as a hobby, but in reality I just love books and love delving deeper into text. I see this project as a way to wade through American history and discover new and forgotten reads.
I hope to continue reviewing other books here as well, more current releases, but I hope you enjoy this project along the way. This is Pulitzer Pries.