pulitzer prize

Gilead

By Marilynne Robinson

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"In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowa preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He 'preached men into the Civil War,' then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father - an ardent pacifist--and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend's wayward son.

"This is also the tale of another remarkable vision--not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames's soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten."

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The Hours

By Michael Cunningham

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On a gray suburban London morning in 1923, Virginia Woolf awakens from a dream that will soon lead to Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, on a beautiful June day in Greenwich Village, 52-year-old Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for her oldest love, a poet dying of AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown, pregnant and unsettled, does her best to prepare for her husband's birthday, but can't seem to stop reading Woolf. In 1999, Cunningham was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this novel.

On Film:
Nicole Kidman won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the 2002 film adaptation of Cunningham's novel. Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore also star in this movie.

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The Color Purple

By Alice Walker

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Winner of the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, this unforgettable portrait of a young black girl, her friends, family, and lovers is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

On Film:
Be sure to check out the powerful 1985 movie version, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, and Whoopie Goldberg.

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Doctor Zhivago

By Boris Pasternak

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“The best way to understand Pasternak’s achievement in Doctor Zhivago is to see it in terms of this great Russian literary tradition, as a fairy tale, not so much of good and evil as of opposing forces and needs in human destiny and history that can never be reconciled . . . [Zhivago is] a figure who embodies the principle of life itself, the principle that contradicts every abstraction of revolutionary politics.”—from the Introduction by John Bayley

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The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II

By Herman Wouk

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Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life--and mutiny--on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. The novel inspired the now-classic film, starring Humphrey Bogart, as well as a hugely successful Broadway play.

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Andersonville

By MacKinlay Kantor

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"Before there were The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals there was Andersonville. MacKinlay Kantor won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1955 for this novel, an epic account of the notorious prison camp in Macon County, Georgia. Though many of his characters are fictional, many are based on historical figures. Even some of the minor characters who appear as suffering prisoners of war are historical. Writing in the early fifties it was perhaps inevitable that Kantor drew subtle echoes of the Nazi concentration camps as he told this grim story of the greatest of Confederate war crimes. Kantor spent most of his life studying and writing about the Civil War. His emphasis was always on the small-town, ordinary citizens confronted with the horrors of Civil War.'

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Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry

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"Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.

"Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.

Call's dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but draws in a vast cast of characters:

  • Lorena, the whore with the proverbial heart of gold, whom Gus (and almost everyone else) loves, and who survives one of the most terrifying experiences any woman could have...
  • Elmira, the restless, reluctant wife of a small-time Arkansas sheriff, who runs away from the security of marriage to become part of the great Western adventure...
  • Blue Duck, the sinister Indian renegade, one of the most frightening villains in American fiction, whose steely capacity for cruelty affects the lives of everyone in the book...
  • Newt, the young cowboy for whom the long and dangerous journey from Texas to Montana is in fact a search for his own identity...
  • Jake, the dashing, womanizing exRanger, a comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, whose weakness leads him to an unexpected fate...
  • July Johnson, husband of Elmira, whose love for her draws him out of his secure life into the wilderness, and turns him into a kind of hero..."
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Angle of Repose

By Wallace Stegner

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Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery--personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winner Claudia Emerson Inducted into Fellowship of Southern Writers

Claudia Emerson

Claudia Emerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and English professor at the University of Mary Washington, will be inducted into the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers during its biennial meeting at the Conference on Southern Literature.  Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Late Wife. She has written five books of poetry, with a sixth forthcoming, and has won numerous other honors.  We are fortunate that each April she has helped our library system by judging  the Teen Poetry Contest and acting as presenter for Teen Poetry Night.

Negative Blue

By Charles Wright

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The culmination of the cycle that won Wright the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award:

Time will append us like suit coats left out overnight
On a deck chair, loose change dead weight in the right pocket,
Silk handkerchief limp with dew,
sleeves in a slow dance with the wind.
And love will kill us--
Love, and the winds from under the earth
that grind us to grain-out.

--from "Still Life with Spring and Time to Burn"

When Charles Wright published Appalachia in 1998, it marked the completion of a nine-volume project, of which James Longenbach wrote in the Boston Review, "Charles Wright's trilogy of trilogies--call it 'The Appalachian Book of the Dead'--is sure to be counted among the great long poems of the century."

The first two of those trilogies were collected in Country Music (1982) and The World of the Ten Thousand Things (1990). Here Wright adds to his third trilogy (Chickamauga [1995], Black Zodiac [1997], and Appalachia [1998]) a section of new poems that suggest new directions in the work of this sensuous, spirit-haunted poet.

(From the publisher's description)

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