Colson Whitehead Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Pulitzer Prizes: A Guide to the Winning Books and Finalists

Here are the 2020 contenders for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, history and biography.

By Concepción de León

Fifteen books were recognized as winners or finalists for the Pulitzer Prize on Monday, in the categories of fiction, general history, biography, poetry and general nonfiction.

Winner: “The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead

In his latest novel, the “Underground Railroad” writer fictionalized the story of a Florida school where dozens of black boys were tortured and buried in a secret graveyard. “Were Whitehead’s only aim to shine an unforgiving light on a redacted chapter of racial terrorism in the American chronicle, that would be achievement enough,” wrote our reviewer. But Whitehead “applies a master storyteller’s muscle not just to excavating a grievous past but to examining the process by which Americans undermine, distort, hide or ‘neatly erase’ the stories he is driven to tell.”

Finalist: “The Dutch House,” by Ann Patchett

This novel explores the dynamics of a blended family living in a glass house outside Philadelphia in midcentury. “I can’t pluck out one sentence worth quoting, but how effective they are when woven together — these translucent lines that envelop you like a spider’s web,” wrote our reviewer. “It can feel old-fashioned: her style, her attachment to a very traditional kind of storytelling,” but “like the family’s Dutch house, it’s an enduring structure, which gives an added dimension to the references in the text — its way of gesturing toward a lineage.” See the full list of winners at The New York Times.

Congratulations to Colson Whitehead and Ann Patchett! Colson Whitehead’s winning novel The Nickel Boys was our August 2019 Book of the Month and was a longtime book club favorite, as was Ann Patchett’s finalist The Dutch House. To read more about The Nickel Boys — and other Book of the Month honorees — visit our Book of the Month page here.

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