Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Pulitzer Prize medal logo

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Pulitzer Prize medal logo

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is an annual award “for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”

Here is the list of winners, all the way back to 1940…

2017
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

2016
The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

2015
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’ For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth. In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

2014
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Easons

2013
The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson

Pak Jun Do knows he is special. He knows he must be the son of the master of the orphanage, not some kid dumped by his parents – it was obvious from the way his father singled him out for beatings. He knows he is special when he is picked as a spy and kidnapper for his country, the glorious Democratic Republic of North Korea. He knows he must find his true love, Sun Moon, the greatest opera star who ever lived, before it’s too late. He knows he’s not like the other prisoners in the camp. He’s going to get out soon. Definitely.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2012

No award given.

2011
A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life – divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house – and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang – who thrived and who faltered – and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and, the universal tendency to reach for both – and escape the merciless progress of time – in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2010
Tinkers – Paul Harding

An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks. Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure. A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost seven decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring. Heartbreaking and life affirming, TINKERS is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2009
Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge might be described by some as a battle axe or as brilliantly pushy, by others as the kindest person they had ever met. Olive herself has always been certain that she is 100% correct about everything – although, lately, her certitude has been shaken. This indomitable character appears at the centre of these narratives that comprise Olive Kitteridge. In each of them, we watch Olive, a retired schoolteacher, as she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and the lives of those around her – always with brutal honesty, if sometimes painfully. Olive will make you laugh, nod in recognition, as well as wince in pain or shed a tear or two. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and her own son, tyrannised by Olive’s overbearing sensitivities. The reader comes away, amazed by this author’s ability to conjure this formidable heroine and her deep humanity that infiltrates every page.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

Things have never been easy for Oscar. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, he’s sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien and he keeps falling hopelessly in love. Poor Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku – the curse that has haunted his family for generations. With dazzling energy and insight Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Oscar; his runaway sister Lola; their beautiful mother Belicia; and in the family’s uproarious journey from the Dominican Republic to the US and back.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2007
The Road – Cormac McCarthy

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other. ‘McCarthy conjures from this pitiless flight the miracle of unswerving humanity.

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2006
March – Geraldine Brooks

Set during the American Civil War, ‘March’ tells the story of John March, known to us as the father away from his family of girls in ‘Little Women’, Louisa May Alcott’s classic American novel. In Brooks’s telling, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of a war that tests his faith in himself and in the Union cause when he learns that his side, too, is capable of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness in a Washington hospital, he must reassemble the shards of his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through. As Alcott drew on her real-life sisters in shaping the characters of her little women, so Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, an idealistic educator, animal rights exponent and abolitionist who was a friend and confidante of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The story spans the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, through to the first year of the Civil War as the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats. Like her bestselling ‘Year of Wonders’, ‘March’ follows an unconventional love story. It explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2005
Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

An intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart.

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2004
The Known World – Edward P. Jones

An utterly original exploration of race, trust and the cruel truths of human nature, this is a landmark in modern American literature. Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation — as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend household, the known world also unravels: low-paid white patrollers stand watch as slave ‘speculators’ sell free black people into slavery, and rumours of slave rebellions set white families against slaves who have served them for years. An ambitious, luminously written novel that ranges from the past to the present, The Known World seamlessly weaves together the lives of the freed and the enslaved — and allows all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multi-dimensional world created by the institution of slavery.

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2003
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

‘I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license records my first name simply as Cal.’ So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, “Middlesex” is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

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2002
Empire Falls – Richard Russo

Empire Falls, Maine: once a thriving hub of industry, this small town nestles in a bend of the vast and winding Knox River, and has always been the empire of the wealthy Whiting family. Now the last Mrs Whiting presides like a black widow spider over its declining fortunes. She harbours a grudge against her employee Miles Groby, who runs the Whiting-owned Empire Grill, but hopes one day to own it himself. Miles, gentle and hopeless, has other problems: his wife has run off with his worst customer, he frets about his adored teenage daughter, and his drunken father sponges off everyone. As the novel builds to a shocking climax, Russo constantly surprises with characters who will disarm you, a plot with as many twists and falls as the Knox River itself, and an ending that will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.co.uk – Amazon.com

2001
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’ is a heart-wrenching story of escape, love and comic-book heroes set in Prague, New York and the Arctic. One night in 1939, Josef Kavalier shuffles into his cousin Sam Clay’s cramped New York bedroom, his nerve-racking escape from Prague finally achieved. Little does he realise that this is the beginning of an extraordinary friendship and even more fruitful business partnership. Together, they create a comic strip called ‘The Escapist’, its superhero a Nazi-busting saviour who liberates the oppressed around the world. ‘The Escapist’ makes their fortune, but Joe can think of only one thing: how can he effect a real-life escape, and free his family from the tyranny of Hitler? Michael Chabon’s exceptional novel is a thrilling tight-rope walk between high comedy and bitter tragedy, and confirms his position as one of the most inventive and daring of contemporary American writers. In Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, he has created two unforgettable characters bound together by love, family and cartoons.

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2000
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Scintillating studies in yearning and exile from a Bengali Bostonian woman of immense promise. A couple exchange unprecedented confessions during nightly blackouts in their Boston apartment as they struggle to cope with a heartbreaking loss; a student arrives in new lodgings in a mystifying new land and, while he awaits the arrival of his arranged-marriage wife from Bengal, he finds his first bearings with the aid of the curious evening rituals that his centenarian landlady orchestrates; a schoolboy looks on while his childminder finds that the smallest dislocation can unbalance her new American life all too easily and send her spiralling into nostalgia for her homeland! Jhumpa Lahiri’s prose is beautifully measured, subtle and sober, and she is a writer who leaves a lot unsaid, but this work is rich in observational detail, evocative of the yearnings of the exile (mostly Indians in Boston here), and full of emotional pull and reverberation.

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1999
The Hours – Michael Cunningham

A passionate, profound and haunting story of love and inheritance, hope and despair. Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, taken from her beloved Bloomsbury and lovingly watched over by her husband Leonard, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel. In the brooding heat of 1940s Los Angeles, a young wife and mother yearns to escape the claustrophobia of suburban domesticity and read her precious copy of Mrs Dalloway. And in New York in the 1990s, Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich Village apartment and goes shopping for flowers for the party she is giving in honour of her life-long friend Richard, an award-winning poet whose mind and body are being ravaged by AIDS. These are the characters in Michael Cunningham’s exquisite and deeply moving novel, which takes Woolf’s life and work as inspiration for a meditation on artistic behaviour, failure, love and madness. Moving effortlessy across the decades and between England and America, Cunningham’s elegant, haunting prose explores the pain and trauma of creativity and the immutable relationship between writer and reader.

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1998
American Pastoral – Philip Roth

Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov – a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheriter of his father’s Newark glove factory – comes of age in thriving, triumphant post-war America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American’s rise and fall – of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder.

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1997
Martin Dressler – Steven Millhauser

Young Martin Dressler begins his career as an industrious helper in his father’s cigar store. In the course of his restless young manhood, he makes a swift and eventful rise to the top, accompanied by two sisters–one a dreamlike shadow, the other a worldly business partner. As the eponymous Martin’s vision becomes bolder and bolder he walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry, a sense of doom builds piece-by-hypnotic piece until this mesmerizing journey into the heart of an American dreamer reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.com

1996
Independence Day – Richard Ford

Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an ‘Existence Period’ – selling real estate in New Jersey and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy. But, over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life. “Independence Day” is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of extraordinary empathy and perception.

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1995
The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields

‘The Stone Diaries’ is the story of one woman’s life, a truly sensuous novel which relects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century. This is the story of Daisy Goodwill, from her birth on a kitchen floor in Manitoba, Canada, to her death in a Florida nursing home nearly ninety years later. Through Daisy’s life, Shields reflects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century in this rich and poignant novel.

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1994
The Shipping News – Annie Proulx

Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers — the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With ‘the aunt’ and his delinquent daughters — Bunny and Sunshine — in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama. ‘The Shipping News’ is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility.

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1993
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain – Robert Olen Butler

Butler’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese is reissued. Includes two subsequently published stories that complete the collection’s narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.com

1992
A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley

Larry Cook’s farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. Proud and possessive, his sudden decision to retire and hand over the farm to his three daughters, is disarmingly uncharacteristic. Ginny and Rose, the two eldest, are startled yet eager to accept, but Caroline, the youngest daughter, has misgivings. Immediately, her father cuts her out. In A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley transposes the King Lear story to the modern day, and in so doing at once illuminates Shakespeare’s original and subtly transforms it.

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1991
Rabbit at Rest – John Updike

It’s 1989, and Harry Rabbit Angstrom is far from restful. Fifty-six and overweight, he has a struggling business on his hands and a heart that is starting to fail. His family, too, is giving him cause for concern. His son, Nelson, is a wreck of a man, a cocaine addict with shattered self-respect. Janice, his wife, has decided that she wants to be a working girl. And as for Pru, his daughter-in-law, she seems to be sending out signals to Rabbit that he knows he should ignore, but somehow can’t. He has to make the most of life. After all, he doesn’t have much time left.

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1990
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love – Oscar Hijuelos

In 1949, two young Cuban musicians, brothers Cesar and Nestor, leave Havana for New York. By day they work hard, by night they are the Mambo Kings: packing out clubs, dance halls and theatres with their sensuous, pulsing Latin music. This is the captivating story of charming, vivacious womanizer Cesar and quiet, romantic Nestor – still nursing an unrequited love for ‘beautiful Maria of my soul’ – and their changing fortunes as they try to make it big in America.

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1989
Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler

“Breathing Lessons” covers the events of a day in the life of Maggie Moran, nearing fifty, married to Ira and with two children. Her eternal optimism and her inexhaustible passion for sorting out other people’s lives and willing them to fall in love is severely tested one hot summer day. Maggie and Ira drive from Baltimore to Deer Lick to attend the funeral of the husband of Serena, Maggie’s childhood friend. During the course of the journey, with its several unexpected detours – into the lives of old friends and grown children – Anne Tyler shows us all there is to know about a marriage: the expectations; the disappointments; the way children can create storms in a family; the way the wife and husband can fall in love all over again; the way that everything – and nothing – changes.

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1988
Beloved – Toni Morrison

Terrible, unspeakable things happened to Sethe at Sweet Home, the farm where she lived as a slave for so many years until she escaped to Ohio. Her new life is full of hope but eighteen years later she is still not free. Sethe’s new home is not only haunted by the memories of her past but also by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

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1987
Summons to Memphis – Peter Taylor

When Phillip Carver is asked by his sisters to help avert their widower father’s impending marriage to a younger woman, he is forced to confront his domineering siblings, a controlling patriarch, and a flood of memories from his deeply troubled past.

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1986
Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry

This is a story of heroism, love, honour, loyalty and betrayal, reaching from the office of the Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande to the heart and the wilderness of the American West.

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1985
Foreign Affairs – Alison Lurie

A comedy and a poignant love story about two American academics in London. The separate paths of these two lonely and naive innocents abroad lead them to strikingly similar destinations of new-found passion, and unexpected love.

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1984
Ironweed – William Kennedy

Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, and full-time bum with the gift of gab, has hit bottom. Years earlier he d left Albany after he dropped his infant son accidentally, and the boy died. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and present.

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1983
The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave. She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life.

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1982
Rabbit Is Rich – Alice Walker

It’s 1979 and Rabbit is no longer running. He’s walking, and beginning to get out of breath. That’s ok, though – it gives him the chance to enjoy the wealth that comes with middle age. It’s all in place: he’s Chief Sales Representative and co-owner of Springer motors; his wife, at home or in the club, is keeping trim; he wears good suits, and the cash is pouring in. So why is it that he finds it so hard to accept the way that things have turned out? And why, when he looks at his family, is he haunted by regrets about all those lives he’ll never live?

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1981
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged as well. Ignatius ignores them as he heaves his vast bulk through the city’s fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ignorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him. Ignatius must get a job. Undaunted, he uses his new-found employment to further his mission – and now he has a pirate costume and a hot-dog cart to do it with…

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1980
The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer

In the summer of 1976 Gilmore robbed two men and then shot them in cold blood. No one had been executed in America for ten years but Gilmore, rather than have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him a worldwide celebrity and ensured that his execution turned into a gruesome media event.

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1979
Stories – John Cheever

Stories of love and squalor, set in a world in which momentary glimpses of brightness contend with time, social change, and the chaos of history.

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1978
Elbow Room – James A. McPherson

A beautiful collection of short stories that explores blacks and whites today, Elbow Room is alive with warmth and humor. Bold and very real, these twelve stories examine a world we all know but find difficult to define. Whether a story dashes the bravado of young street toughs or pierces through the self-deception of a failed preacher, challenges the audacity of a killer or explodes the jealousy of two lovers, James Alan McPherson has created an array of haunting images and memorable characters in an unsurpassed collection of honest, masterful fiction.

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1977
Humboldt’s Gift – Saul Bellow

For many years, the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine, a young man inflamed with a love for literature, were the best of friends. At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie’s life has reached a low point: his career is at a standstill, and he’s enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce, infatuated with a highly unsuitable young woman and involved with a neurotic mafioso. And then Humboldt acts from beyond the grave, bestowing upon Charlie an unexpected legacy that may just help him turn his life around.

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1975
The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara

It is the third summer of the war…On June 15, 1863, Robert Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia slips across the Potomac to begin the invasion of the North. His army is 70,000 strong but mostly unpaid and self-equipped. It has won nearly every battle it has fought. Lee knows a letter has been written, a letter offering peace. It is to be placed on the desk of Abraham Lincoln the day after Lee has won this battle.

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1973
The Optimist’s Daughter – Eudora Welty

The people of Mount Salus, Mississippi always felt good about Judge McKelva. He was a quiet, solid reassuring figure, just as a judge should be. Then, ten years after his first wife’s death, he marries the frivolous young Wanda Fay. No-one can understand his action, not least his beloved daughter, Laurel, who finds it hard to accept the new bride. It is only some years later, when circumstance brings her back to her childhood home, that Laurel stirs old memories and comes to understand the peculiarities of her upbringing, and the true relationship between her parents and herself.

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1972
Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner

The novel tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home in the Sierra Nevada. Wheelchair-bound with a crippling bone disease, Ward embarks nonetheless on a search to rediscover his grandmother, no long dead, who made her own journey to Grass Valley nearly a hundred years earlier.

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1971

No award given.

1970
The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford – Jean Stafford

These Pulitzer Prize-winning stories represent the major short works of fiction by one of the most distinctively American stylists of her day. Jean Stafford communicates the small details of loneliness and connection, the search for freedom and the desire to belong, that not only illuminate whole lives but also convey with an elegant economy of words the sense of the place and time in which her protagonists find themselves. This volume also includes the acclaimed story “An Influx of Poets,” which has never before appeared in book form.

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1969
House Made of Dawn – N. Scott Momaday

House Made of Dawn tells the story of a young American Indian named Abel, home from a foreign war and caught between two worlds: one his father’s, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons and the harsh beauty of the land; the other of industrial America, goading him into a compulsive cycle of dissipation and disgust.

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1968
Confessions of Nat Turner – William Styron

In 1831 Nat Turner awaits death in a Virginia jail cell. He is a slave, a preacher, and the leader of the only effective slave revolt in the history of ‘that peculiar institution’. William Styron’s ambitious and stunningly accomplished novel is Turner’s confession, made to his jailers under the duress of his God. Encompasses the betrayals, cruelties and humiliations that made up slavery – and that still sear the collective psyches of both races.

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1967
The Fixer – Bernard Malamud

Set in Czarist Russia, The Fixer is the story of the strains and anxieties that beset a man who finds himself a stranger in his community and a victim of irrational prejudice as a wave of anti-Semitic hysteria engulfs a town after the murder of a boy.

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1966
The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter – Katherine Anne Porter

No description available 🙁

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1965
The Keepers of the House – Shirley Ann Grau

Entrenched on the same land since the early 1800s, the Howlands have, for seven generations, been pillars of their Southern community. Extraordinary family lore has been passed down to Abigail Howland, but not all of it. When shocking facts come to light about her late grandfather William’s relationship with Margaret Carmichael, a black housekeeper, the community is outraged, and quickly gathers to vent its fury on Abigail. Alone in the house the Howlands built, she is at once shaken by those who have betrayed her, and determined to punish the town that has persecuted her and her kin.

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1964

No award given.

1963
The Reivers – William Faulkner

Faulkner’s final novel is a tale of three Mississippi travellers. Ned, Boon and young Lucius travel to Memphis in a stolen car to find love and fortune. Once there, Ned trades in the car for a racehorse, Lucius comes of age, and Boon sets about trying to win the heart of a prostitute named ‘Miss Corrie’.

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1962
The Edge of Sadness – Edwin O’Connor

This haunting novel shattered reigning cultural stereotypes of priests and parish life whenit was first published. Father Hugh Kennedy is a recovering alcoholic, committed to his vocation yet struggling with the demands of it.

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1961
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

‘Shoot all the Bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.’ A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel – a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with both compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, Atticus, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy.

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1960
Advice and Consent – Allen Drury

A sweeping tale of corruption and ambition cuts across the landscape of Washington, DC, with the breadth and realism that only an astute observer and insider can convey. Allen Drury has penetrated the world’s stormiest political battleground-the smoke-filled committee rooms of the United States Senate-to reveal the bitter conflicts set in motion when the President calls upon the Senate to confirm his controversial choice for Secretary of State. This novel is a true epic showing in fascinating detail the minds and motives of the statesmen, the opportunists, the idealists. From a Senate old-timer’s wily maneuvers, a vicious demagogue’s blistering smear campaign, the ugly personal jealousies that turn a highly qualified candidate into a public spectacle, to the tragic martyrdom of a presidential aspirant who refuses to sacrifice his principles for his career-never has there been a more revealing picture of Washington’s intricate political, diplomatic, and social worlds. Advise and Consent is a timeless story with clear echoes of today’s headlines.

1959
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters – Robert Lewis Taylor

The Travels Of Jaimie McPheeters is the lively story of 13-year-old Jaimie and his father’s jorney from Kentucky to gold-rush California in 1849.

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1958
A Death in the Family – James Agee

A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident-a tragedy that destroys not only a life, but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion.

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1957

No award given.

1956
Andersonville – Kantor McKinlay

The Travels Of Jaimie McPheeters is the lively story of 13-year-old Jaimie and his father’s jorney from Kentucky to gold-rush California in 1849.

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1955
Fable – William Faulkner

An allegorical story of World War I set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment.

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1954

No award given.

1953
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, this work presents the tale of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. It is a story of heroic endeavour and of the beauty and grief of man’s challenge to the elements.

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1952
The Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was immediately embraced as one of the first serious works of fiction to help readers grapple with the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half-century, Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining story of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater has achieved the status of a modern classic.

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1951
The Town – Conrad Richter

The Awakening Land trilogy traces the transformation of Ohio from wilderness to farmland to the site of modern industrial civilization, all in the lifetime of one character. The trilogy earned Richter immediate acclaim as a historical novelist. It includes The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950) and follows the Luckett family’s migration from Pennsylvania to Southeastern Ohio. It starts when settler Sayward Luckett Wheeler becomes mother to her orphaned siblings on the frontier, and ends with the story of her youngest son Chancey, a journalist in the years before the Civil War. The Town won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize and received excellent reviews across the country.

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1950
The Way West – A B Guthrie

Dick Summers, as pilot of a wagon train, guides a group of settlers on the difficult journey from Missouri to Oregon. In sensitive but unsentimental prose, Guthrie illuminates the harsh trials and resounding triumphs of pioneer life. With THE WAY WEST, he pays homage to the grandeur of the western wilderness, its stark and beautiful scenery, and its extraordinary people.

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1949
Guard of Honor – James Gould Cozzens

Dick Summers, as pilot of a wagon train, guides a group of settlers on the difficult journey from Missouri to Oregon. In sensitive but unsentimental prose, Guthrie illuminates the harsh trials and resounding triumphs of pioneer life. With THE WAY WEST, he pays homage to the grandeur of the western wilderness, its stark and beautiful scenery, and its extraordinary people.

Available from: The Book Depository – Amazon.com

1948
Tales of the South Pacific – James A. Michener

This thrilling work invites the reader to enter the exotic world of the South Pacific and luxuriate in the endless ocean, the coconut palms, the waves breaking into spray against the reefs, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes. And yet here also are the men and women caught up in the heady drama of World War II: the young Marine who falls for a beautiful Tonkinese girl; the Navy nurse whose prejudices are challenged by a French aristocrat; and all the soldiers and sailors preparing for war against the seemingly peaceful backdrop of a tropical paradise.

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1947
All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren

Set in the 1930s, this is a novel on American politics. It traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, who resembles the real-life Huey “Kingfish” Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success.

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1946

No award given.

1945
A Bell for Adano – John Hersey

An Italian-American major in World War II wins the love and admiration of the local townspeople when he searches for a replacement for the 700 year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by the fascists.

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1944
Journey in the Dark – Martin Flavin
1943
Dragon’s Teeth II – Upton Sinclair

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1942
In This Our Life – Ellen Glasgow

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1941

No award given.

1940
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of dust bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel West in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.

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When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.
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