Pulitzer Prize Winners 2009 Announced
The Pulitzer Prizes were just announced, and, despite my big theory on Friday that the Pulitzer has become a year-end consensus award, the fiction jury went for a somewhat lesser-known book, Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. And I completely struck out in my specific predictions for the other awards. But one sentence of mine does look pretty good in retrospect: "But maybe this will be the year for a dark-horse candidate like Olive Kitteridge." Any credit for that, though, should go to my colleague Terry Goodman, who's been a big fan of the book since it came out, and to the prognosticators at PPrize.com, whose data led them to put it on their list of 15 top contenders. I will claim some credit, though, for picking finalist Louise Erdrich as one of my other favorites.
As always, the Pulitzers don't announce a shortlist beforehand, but they do announce two other finalists for each award when they announce the winners. This year's honorees:
- Fiction: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Finalists: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich and All Souls by Christine Schutt)
- History: The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed (Finalists: This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust and The Liberal Hour by G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert Weisbrot)
- Biography/Autobiography: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Finalists: Traitor to His Class by H.W. Brands and The Bin Ladens by Steve Coll)
- General Nonfiction: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Finalists: Gandhi and Churchill by Arthur Herman and The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe by William I. Hitchcock)
- Poetry: The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Finalists: Watching the Spring Festival by Frank Bidart and What Love Comes To by Ruth Stone)
- Drama: Ruined by Lynn Nottage (Finalists: Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo and In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes, neither of which are available in book form yet--on Amazon at least)
Some notes: The Hemingses of Monticello, which won the National Book Award and was nominated for the NBCC, can safely be called the most honored book of the year by now. You can read our Q&A with Professor Gordon-Reed from last fall. Although two of the winners are print journalists (Meacham is the editor of Newsweek and Blackmon is a Wall Street Journal reporter in Atlanta), the only one of this year's winners who has won a Pulitzer before is Merwin, who also won the Poetry prize 38 years ago for The Carrier of Ladders.
Of the other Pulitzer winners today, the only to have been published in book form yet are the photos from the Obama campaign that won Damon Winter his prize for Feature Photography, many of which are included in the New York Times's coffee-table account of the campaign, Obama: The Historic Journey. The Times has a slide show of his winning photos up on their site, including this stunner, which we've been featuring on our page for the book (and which we all thought should have been the cover image):