Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pulitzer Suprises

The 96th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced today by Columbia University. And the biggest surprise was that for the first time since 1977 no award was made in the Fiction category (it was, however, not the only category in 2012 in which no award was made). It certainly maintains the integrity and prestige of the Awards, but must have been disappointing to those that were nominated as finalists. Have a look at them and see what you think:

Train Dreams - Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century-an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West-its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders-the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life."--Publisher description.

Swamplandia! - Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf).
The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.-- Publisher description.

The Pale King - David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company).
The character David Foster Wallace is introduced to the banal world of the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, and the host of strange people who work there, in a novel that was unfinished at the time of the author's death.

Awards were made in several other categories though which you can check out at the libraries.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable (Viking) won the American History category, after being moved from the Biography nominations.

George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press), won the Biography category.

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press), won the Poetry category

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton and Company) won the General Non-fiction category.

For more information and details of finalists in all the categories go to the Pulitzer Prizes website

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