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The 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, History, and Inclusivity

At its meeting on Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Association for Library Service to Children Board voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.  This award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature.  In discussion this award, we’d also like to congratulate this year’s winner, Jacqueline Woodson.  As the committee chair,  Rita Auerbach noted, “From picture books through novels for young teens to her exquisite memoir in poetry, Jacqueline Woodson has established herself as an eloquent voice in contemporary children’s literature.”  Headlines, however, have been focused on the change in the award’s name, and it is that, specifically, we are addressing today.

This was not a decision that was taken lightly, nor was it done for frivolous reasons.  Indeed, there has been a discussion of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s historical legacy and descriptions of native peoples.  As Samira Ahmed wrote in The Guardian in 2010, “While she often writes of her desire to be “free like the Indians”, riding bareback, Little House on the Prairie is built illegally on occupied Osage Indian land.”

A photo of member of the Osage tribe, taken around the time that Wilder was living the experiences she would describe in her books.

The settlement of the American West fundamentally involved the dehumanization of the Native American/Indian peoples who were present on the land that settlers wanted to own.  Part of this process involved talking about Native American/Indian people as less than human.  Wilder utilized this language in her works.  Just one example can be found in Little House on the Prairiewhere she states that  Kansas had “no people, only Indians”.   Such language reflects the delegitimization and dehumanizing that settlers enacted in their move West.   In this specific case, Wilder refers to the Osage peoples.  A series of treaties and agreements from
1865 to 1870 forced the Osage people off the land that a previous treaty, signed in 1825, promised would be theirs in perpetuity.  They were sent to reservations in Oklahoma.  The travel, the lack of funds and support, as well as the violence they sustained impacted the tribes for generations.  Their population decreased by over 50% in the course of a generation.  But this is not merely a historical issue; when oil was discovered on their land, the Osage people were forced to sue the Federal Government over its management of the trust assets, alleging that it had failed to pay tribal members appropriate royalties, and had not historically protected their land assets and appreciation.  The suit was settled in 2011.

Over the course of time, Wilder (pictured at left) gained some insight into the damage such language could have.  Later editions of the book feature an edited line, which reads, ‘no settlers, only Indians’.”  While this edit is a positive change, it is a limited one.  Little House on the Prairie discusses the removal of the Osage people, but never condemns it.  In some ways, this does indeed make Wilder a product of her time.  But it is completely historically inaccurate to assume that her language, opinions, and descriptions represent a universal opinion.  There were a large number of people who spoke out against the removal of Native American/Indian people, and the kind of language that helped facilitate their dehumanization–including Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett, Massachusetts Congressman Daniel Webster, and a large number of missionaries–both male and female.  Additionally, the Osage people continue to condemn Wildler’s work for its language and representation of their history.

A map showing the ancestral territory of the Osage people. The land designated for their reservation is in purple. From https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/historic-preservation/ancestral-map

At the same time that Wildler’s work is being re-assessed, book writers, makers, and readers are realizing how poorly non-white, non-male readers have been represented, not only in terms of the types of books produced, but the authors who are honored by awards.  We’ve covered some of that debate here at the Free-For-All, but the ALA has also engaged in some soul-searing conversations.  These don’t condemn Wilder or her work, nor do they comment on the quality of her novels.  However, they do think meaningfully about how naming an award after Wilder might affect the ways readers see their engagement.

Changing the name of the award is part of a process that involves facing the problematic aspects of American history, and attempting to do better by current and future generations. It is part of a commitment to ensuring that readers have access to books that speak to them: to their identities, to their history, to their experiences, and to their abilities, and to recognize the ways they have been under-represented previously in an open, honest, and effective manner. To continue to award a prize named after someone who did not recognize the humanity of the non-white people around her makes a lot of the positive changes we see in children’s literature feel ultimately disingenuous.

For the record, no one–not I, not the Free-For-All, not the Library, and not the ALA are accusing Wilder of intentional hate speech or overt racism.  Indeed, her attempts to moderate her own words points to her potential to change and improve.  And we are actually enjoying a rich moment where Wilder’s history, experiences, and struggles are being honored and remembered in a new, and for more nuanced, way (see last year’s Pulitzer-Prize-Winning biography by Caroline Fraser).  But by renaming the award that previously bore her name, the ALA is acknowledging the harmful stereotypes that she used and promoted, and attempting to move beyond them.  In doing so, it allows us to create room to consider authors contemporary to Wilder who were not using the kind of language she did, and promoting their words, their message and their principles.  So doing can only enrich our literature by recognizing inclusion and diversity, as well as help those readers who have been outside our gaze for so long.

The Golden Man Booker Prize

Readers of the Free-For-All will remember that we here get all fluttery and heart-eyes over the Man Booker Prize.  We love the way it has highlighted some of the most intriguing, beguiling, emotionally-gripping books of the past fifty years.  We love that the award is willing to grow an evolve.  While it originally only recognized books written in English and published in the United Kingdom, the award now accepts submissions from English-speaking countries around the world.  It has also added a prize for novels in translation: the Man Booker International Prize, which we also adore.  The award has also been addressing its implicit classism and biases by celebrating working-class authors over the past few years.  Between that and all the pomp, circumstance, and book lover that it engenders, the Man Booker Prize is one we truly love to watch.

And since this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Man Booker Prize, the good people of the award have determined to take things up a notch by announcing the Golden Man Booker Prize (in my head, this award is always in bold font, and is accompanied by trumpet fanfares).  According to the award website, “The Golden Man Booker will put all 51 winners – which are all still in print – back under the spotlight, to discover which of them has stood the test of time, remaining relevant to readers today.”  Five judges have been appointed to read the winning novels from each decade of the prize, and each judge has chosen which book, in his or her opinion, is the best winner from that particular decade, and will champion that book against the other judges’ selections. The judges’ ‘Golden Five’ shortlist was announced at the Hay Festival on May 26. The five books will then be put to a month-long public vote lasting until June 26.   The overall winner will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival on July 8.

To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this award.  More to the point, I don’t know if it’s valid to compare a novel from one decade to that of another.  Time’s change.  Standards change.  Readers change.  Things also get really weird in discussing the books from this most recent decade.  Have these books withstood the test of time?  How can we adequately judge…especially where the chosen book was released less than a year ago?

You know what the cool part is, though? YOU CAN VOTE ON THE WINNER OF THE GOLDEN MAN BOOKER PRIZE!  Seriously, I’m way too excited about this.  But in order to be a conscientious voter, you need to be an educated voter.  So be sure to check out these short-listed books, and vote for your favorite!

So get reading, beloved patrons–and don’t forget to vote!

And the winner of Man Booker International Prize is…

The Free-For-All is delighted to announce that Olga Tokarczuk of Poland, and her translator, Jennifer Croft, have won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for the novel Flights!


Flights is a fascinating, genre-defying set of linked fragments that travel from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy: A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally-ill high-school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time.

Tokarczuk and Croft, via http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-44219438

In a statement by the Man Booker Prize committee, Lisa Appignanesi, who led the judging panel, said: ‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’

Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft will share the £50,000 prize.  If you would like to experience the wonder of Flightsand Croft’s incredible translation–come by and talk to our friendly reference staff soon!

The 2017 (and eternal) RT Book Reviews Awards!

Several weeks ago, the editors of RT Book Reviews announced their selection for the best books of 2017.  The awards themselves will be handed out at RT’s annual convention, which is taking place this week in Reno, Nevada.  

RT Book Reviews (the RT stands for Romantic Times) was founded as a newsletter in 1981.  By the 2004, the magazine, now a glossy magazine, reported a subscription of 150,000 people, and billed itself as “Romance’s premiere genre magazine.”  The reviews, which covered most romance genres, as well as mystery, fiction, science fiction, thriller, and urban fantasy, were featured on book covers and websites.  The conventions brought readers face-to-face with some of the most influential and beloved writers across genres.

But today, it was announced that RT Book Reviews would be closing at the end of the month, when the founder and editor of the magazine, Kathryn Falk, will be retiring.  The full details of the closing have yet to be fully revealed, but you can be sure we will bring them to you when more is known.

Until then, however, we have the last round of RT Book Reviews Awards.  And, since there won’t be any more, we can only assume that these books will remain the best books in their category for all eternity!  We offer our heartiest congratulations to all the winners, and hope that you find some new books to savor from the list of winning titles below!  For a full list of all nominated titles, see RT Book Reviews website.


Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Jenn McKinlay


Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai


Shattered by Allison Brennan

Thanks for all the reviews and all the love, RT Books Reviews!  You’ll be missed!

Getting Out of the Box

Last week, we addressed the #MeToo movement in the literary world by focusing on some of the headlines and debates that were taking place regarding the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the revelations regarding Junot Diaz.  Today, we thought we’d take a look into the literary implications of #MeToo, and the way the movement is changing how we read and write fiction.

Not surprisingly, perhaps the most prominent field where such changes have been occurring is romance, where issues of consent and power have always been debated and discussed pretty prominently.  Now, as The Guardian observed, we see workplace romances getting reconsidered, and the consent being made extra-explicit and enthusiastic (by a number of authors, if not across the genre as a whole).  And that is terrific.  As I reader, I have long been awaiting a turn in the genre to something more out-and-out progressive, feminist, and focused on fulfillment.

But it seems that other genres have been thinking hard about the portrayal of women in literature, as well.  The Hugo Awards for science fiction have been honoring the achievements of women and people of color for several years now, despite some highly-publicized campaigns to derail those efforts.  The establishment of the Staunch Book Prize launched a wide-reaching and generally thoughtful debate about how we treat out female characters, why we hurt them, and what we can do about it.  Heck, there is even an opera due for release in the UK this summer focusing on the victims of Jack the Ripper, in order to restore humanity to women who have been historically described by their gruesome deaths.

Via Creative Loafing: Tampa Bay

But have such sentiments actually translated into our literature?  To an extent…yes.  The world of publishing is not quick to react at the very best of times, and it will most likely be some time before the paradigm shift that the #MeToo movement has been establishing will be truly reflected in the books we read across genres.  But I’ve been noticing a trend over the past few years, as discussions and debates surrounding women’s issues, women’s lived experiences, and the intersectional problems that people of color, LGBTQIA people, working-class people, and people with disabilities face on a daily basis in our world have grown in prominence–stories are, in fact, beginning to change.  It sometimes subtle–and sometimes it isn’t at all, and that’s super, too.  But it is there.  So if you are looking for some works that are tackling issues of power, abuse, identity, and truth-telling, here are some ideas from around the world of fiction.  Some of these books are overtly speaking to the current cultural moment, and some are merely reflecting on them in a way, but all of them, in their own way, are acknowledging that it’s time to think outside the proverbial box–and we are all the better for it.

Note: This is not to say that older books have not tackled these issues.  They absolutely have.  See Jean Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, or Barbara Vine’s A Dark Adapted Eye.  But this is a round-up of a few new books that reflect some of the positive changes and debates taking place in fiction right now.

The Nowhere Girls: Amy Reed’s novel is at once a wonderfully fulfilling coming-of-age, misfits-united novel, and a searing indictment of the rape culture in which these characters are growing up.  Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal; Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who yearns for a life outside of their plans; Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, both of which help her cope with her concern that she might be an android.   When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.  This is a story with worlds of positive representation, from queer characters to female characters with autism-spectrum conditions, from religious and cultural difference to debates about sex and feminism–but it’s also one heck of a compelling read, especially as these Nowhere Girls lead a crusade for justice that is as applicable to the world outside the book as it is to them.

Anatomy of a Scandal: Sarah Vaughan uses all the insight and nuance she gathered during her career as a journalist in this story about political scandals, accusations, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to endure.  The novel focuses on Sophie and her husband James.  In Sophie’s eyes, James is the model of a good man–a caring father, a devoted husband, and a highly successful politician.  But then James is accused of rape, and  Kate Woodcroft is appointed by the Crown to prosecute him.  Kate is convinced that James is guilty, and is willing to bring all her legal expertise to this fight to bring him down.  But as this story unfolds, with the help of flashbacks and shifting narrative voices, we as readers are shown that no actions are isolated, and that all actions and all choices have tremendous impact, far into the future.  Vaughan is especially talented at crafting her female characters.  Sophie and Kate could not be more different, but they are both nuanced, compelling, and, in their own way, sympathetic characters, which makes their journeys in this book uniquely harrowing and suspenseful.  A top-notch courtroom drama as well as a pertinent look into the effects of power and privilege, this is a psychological thriller that fits in beautifully with our current real-world debates.

FellsideThis book is something of an outlier as a result of its age (it was published in 2016, which is by no means ancient, but what a difference a few years makes!), but M.R. Carey’s strange, haunting, and unforgettable novel deserves to be on this list for a number of reasons.  At the center of this work is a heroin addict named Jess Moulson, who is facing life in prison in the isolated and, frankly, terrifying Fellside prison.  Jess, we are told, is weak.  But no matter how many times the characters in this book repeat this judgement of her, Jess quietly and repeatedly proves she is anything but weak.  This is a story that repeatedly shows us the hopelessness of life, especially for those in prison–the ruthlessness of people who feel they have nothing left to lose, the craven violence of those who cling to power, obsession, greed, addiction…but this is also a story that repeatedly rejects those qualities in favor of hope.  Bleak hope, perhaps.  But hope.  So, for its discussions of abuse of power, its emphasis on the integrity and dignity of those whose humanity is so often overlooked, and the intimate discussions about what penance, sacrifice, and love really look like, this book definitely deserves consideration in this discussion.

And also, there are a huge number of romance novels to add to this list…but in the interest of time, we’ll have to get to them another day!


#MeToo in the Literary World, Part 1

Last week was a difficult and complicated one in the book world, dear readers, as two news stories disrupted some long-established status quo’s, and unsettled many assumptions about spaces and people we might have held dear.  Conversations about these topics are by no means easy, and under no circumstances are pleasant.  But they are necessary, and, to many, vitally important ones to have.  So let’s make some space to have them.

Via The Financial Express

The first story is regarding the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature–or the lack thereof.  On Friday, the Nobel committed announced that there would be no prize awarded this year, after a series of resignations left the eighteen-person panel eight members short.  “The present decision was arrived at in view of the currently diminished academy and the reduced public confidence in the academy,” the body, founded by King Gustav III in 1786 and still under royal patronage, said in a statement.

As reported by The Guardian:

At the root of the institution’s unprecedented crisis are a raft of wide-ranging allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and leading cultural figure in Sweden, who is married to Katarina Frostenson, an academy member and author.

Last November, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published detailed allegations by 18 women accusing Arnault of sexual harassment and physical abuse over a period of more than 20 years, in France and Sweden and including at properties owned by the academy.

According to reports, the first accusations against Arnault  were made in 1996, but remained silenced until mere months ago.  Moreover, Arnault and Frostenson ran a club in Stockholm that showcased exhibitions, readings and performances by prominent cultural personalities (including Nobel laureates) for many years, a position that gave Arnault access to the people he victimized.  Because the club was funded in part by the Academy, many have cited a conflict of interest.  Additionally, it has also been alleged that Arnault may have leaked the names of seven Nobel literature laureates in advance, which is problematic because the name of the winner is the subject of heavy betting.

In and of itself, this story was difficult enough.  It was compounded, however, by the Academy’s refusal to take any kind of corrective action when the news became public.  Public approbation fell on Frostenson, who is a member of the Nobel Prize panel, and three members of the 18-strong academy resigned last month in protest when she was not expelled.  That was followed by several large-scale protests in Sweden, specifically outside the Academy, by people who objected to punishing a woman for the actions of a man.  On Friday, April 13, permanent secretary, Sara Danius, the first woman to hold the post since its foundation in 1786, stepped aside after an emergency meeting was called by the Nobel Committee.  Although Danius had worked aggressively to clarify the institution’s relationship with Forum and have , she stated that she felt she had lost the confidence of that committee:

“All traditions are not worth preserving,” she told the Swedish press agency TT on Friday, calling on the academy to make ethics a priority, report and prosecute allegations of misconduct and fight male abuse of power and degrading treatment of women. “Caring for a legacy must not mean an arrogance and distance to society at large,” she said.

Danius’ resignation has been met with anger and protest as well, with many arguing, once again, that a woman is being punished as a result of the actions of a man.  Following Danius’ departure, three male committee members resigned in protest.  Ms. Frostenson has also since resigned.

Sara Danius, via the Sri Lanka Guardian

Technically, committee members are appointed for life, so they can’t actually resign.  However, they can refuse to take their chairs, leaving the committee itself too weak–and too affected by recent news stories and subsequent anger–to make any competent decisions regarding awards.

As a result, according to the announcement made on Friday, is that the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes for Literature will be awarded in 2019.    This is not the first time there has been no award.  Since its establishment in 1901, there have been seven years without a prize: 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943.  The majority of those years, obviously, were during World Wars.  The reason for skipping the prize in 1935 has not been disclosed. It has also been “reserved”, meaning that there were no suitable winners, in 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1936 and 1949.  This is the first year, however, that the prize will not be awarded as the result of a scandal.

So, what do we make of this?

There are any number of opinion pieces coming out this week stating that the world is better off, overall, without the Nobel Prize.  According to an opinion piece in The New York Times, the idea that people from one country are in any way qualified to judge the cultural products of another is fundamentally ludicrous:

Literature is not tennis or football, where international competition makes sense. It is intimately tied to the language and culture from which it emerges. Literary style distinguishes itself by its distance from the other styles that surround it…What sense does it make for a group from one culture — be it Swedish, American, Nigerian or Japanese — to seek to compare a Bolivian poet with a Korean novelist, an American singer-songwriter with a Russian playwright, and so on? Why would we even want them to do that?

Meanwhile, The Atlantic believes that the free market should decide whose books are best:

Good criticism helps people to find the books that will speak to them, but it doesn’t attempt to simply name “the most outstanding work,” in the way the Nobel Prize does. It is impossible to name the single best writer for the same reason that you can’t speak of the single best human being: There are too many different criteria for judgment….A book earns the status of a classic, not because it is approved by a committee or put on a syllabus, but simply because a lot of people like it for a long time. Literary reputation can only emerge on the free market, not through central planning…*

*For the record, the idea that a book “earns the status of a classic…simply because a lot of people like it” is really just not true.  People’s opinions are weighted based on their power and influence in society.  And writers’ ability to reach wide audiences is also based on their power and privilege.  To pretend that there is a fundamental egalitarianism in the production and dissemination of any art form, especially in a capitalist society, is absurd.

The New York Times
People gathered in Stockholm on Thursday in a show of support for Sara Danius,

Which leads me to another point that can be drawn from this whole situation: nothing is sacred.  If anything, the scandal of the 2018 Nobel Prize has forced us to reckon with the fact that the #MeToo movement, that sexual misconduct and abuse of power and taking people’s humanity for granted, is not something that is relegated to a specific industry, or a specific group of people, or that it is a product of a specific place, culture, class, or time.   It is a problem inherent across the social and cultural spectrum.  And this year without an award provides us sometime to think about that.  To realize that awards like the Nobel (and like so many others) largely only recognize the achievements of those who have come before them.  Women, People of Color, people who represent non-binary sexual and gender identities, people from working-class backgrounds, people with immigrant and refugee status, all of these people, and many more, have gone unrecognized by awards, and are not considered “classics”–not because of their literary merit, but because of how these awards are structured, and how we come to think about who is qualified to tell stories.

And in thinking about whose stories matter, this year should also force us to realize that everyone’s stories matter–not only those in print, but the ones that we tell each other.  The stories about violent, invasive, or abusive actions.  The cries for help.  Those stories count, and we–as individuals, as members of communities, and as institutions devoted to storytelling–need to do better about listening to them.

The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes!

The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 by the Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer, who made his name and fortune as a newspaper publisher in the United States.

Pulitzer came the United States and was paid $200 to enlist  in the United States Army during the American Civil War.  Following his discharge, he made his way to Boston, intended to get work aboard the whaling ships of New Bedford.  Whaling, he found to his dismay, was quite boring, so he lived the life of a tramp for some time, sleeping on the streets and traveling in boxcars all the way to St. Louis.  In a town so full of German immigrants, Pulitzer was a welcomed guest, and soon found work in restaurants…and was fired when he dropped a tray and doused a patron in beer.

So Pulitzer did what all wise people do (ahem) and he started hanging out at the Library.  He learned English from the books on the shelf, and decided to strike out on his own, making his way to Louisiana, after some fast-talking steamboat operators convinced him, and a few other men, good-paying jobs on a Louisiana sugar plantation. They boarded a steamboat, which took them downriver 30 miles south of the city, where the crew forced them off. When the boat churned away, the men concluded the promised plantation jobs were a ruse. They walked back to the city, where Pulitzer wrote an account of the fraud and was pleased when it was accepted by the Westliche Post, evidently his first published news story.  He moved back to St. Louis (and near his beloved Library), and began buying shares in newspapers–then selling them, eventually making a profit that allowed him to buy both the St. Louis Dispatch, and the St. Louis Post, and combine them into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is still in operation today.

Pulitzer himself was a workhorse, putting in workdays that started at 10am and ended at 2am the next day.  And that work paid off.  Within a decade, he was buying newspapers in cities across the country, and by 1887, he was elected to the US Congress (and resigned so that he could pay attention to his papers).  It is thanks to Pulitzer, and his arch-rival, William Randolph Hearst, that we have the world of news that we do today.  The two of them, quite literally, single-handedly invented modern print journalism by selling advertising space in their papers, and, thus, monetizing the material they were putting out.  In order to ensure that papers sold, they both encouraged their reporters to sell the stories, with eye-catching headlines, passionate story-telling, investigative, hard-hitting articles…and a good helping of sensationalism mixed in to ensure that the public remained riveted.

Pulitzer left Columbia University $2,000,000 in his will upon his death in 1912…this around the time that the average annual income was $500-$700…to found a school of journalism, to ensure the news empire that he build, and the business he had helped to found, would continue to thrive.  Five years later, they established a prize in his name to reward the best that American journalism has to offer.  Since then, the award has expanded to include “Letters, Drama, and Music” as well, making it one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States.  Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award (raised from $10,000 in 2017).

And today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for “Letters, Drama, and Music”, along with the description provided by the judging board in their selection.  For the full list of awards, see the Pulitzer Prize website here.

Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

“A generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.”


Cost of Living, by Martyna Majok

via costoflivingplay.com

An honest, original work that invites audiences to examine diverse perceptions of privilege and human connection through two pairs of mismatched individuals: a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.


The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis 

An important environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that brings crucial attention to Earth’s 10th-largest body of water, one of the planet’s most diverse and productive marine ecosystems.


Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser 

A deeply researched and elegantly written portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, that describes how Wilder transformed her family’s story of poverty, failure and struggle into an uplifting tale of self-reliance, familial love and perseverance.


Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart

A volume of unyielding ambition and remarkable scope that mixes long dramatic poems with short elliptical lyrics, building on classical mythology and reinventing forms of desires that defy societal norms.


Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr. 

An examination of the historical roots of contemporary criminal justice in the U.S., based on vast experience and deep knowledge of the legal system, and its often-devastating consequences for citizens and communities of color.


DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar

Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.

Check out more information about the Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism at the Pulitzer Prize website!