Share Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

Erin Flaaen is a corporate marketing assistant at Simon and Schuster. Despite her innocent appearance, she loves dark stories, having been strongly influenced by Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner as a teenager. Originally from Arizona, she moved to New York in 2014 and now spends her days being constantly confused by the weather, craving Mexican food, and reading books on trains.

Each April, since 1917, the Pulitzer Prize exalts some of the highest achievements in journalism and the arts. For the fiction award, the committee honors a piece of distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, published the previous year. His Family by Ernest Poole was the first book to ever receive the award. This year, the prize is celebrating its centennial. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction will be announced on April 18, and in its honor, we are taking a look at some of the many extraordinary novels that have won in the past.


The Age of Innocence
by Edith Wharton
In 1921, Edith Wharton was the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (as it was known until 1947) with this exploration and subtle criticism of upper-class New York in the 1870s. The story of a high-society couple’s wedding plans being interrupted by the bride’s scandalous cousin provides the perfect backdrop for Wharton’s examination of New York’s aristocracy.
The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Age of Innocence, which explores the joys and scandals surrounding the marriage of an upper-class New York couple during the Gilded Age.

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Tales of the South Pacific
by James A. Michener
In 1948, the award became the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, encompassing all forms of fiction, from short stories to novels. TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, a gripping account of the men and women residing in the South Pacific during World War II, was the first to receive the newly renamed prize. Theater buffs might recognize it as the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Tales of the South Pacific
James A. Michener

Michener's stories inspired Rodgers & Hammerstein to write their beloved musical SOUTH PACIFIC, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950.

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The Confessions of Nat Turner
by William Styron

The winner from 1968, THE CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER is the fictionalized account of the leader of the 1831 slave revolt. Told from Nat’s point of view as he awaits execution, it covers his life leading to his unjust end.

The Confessions of Nat Turner
William Styron

The winner from 1968, THE CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER is the fictionalized account of the leader of the 1831 slave revolt. Told from Nat’s point of view as he awaits execution, it covers his life leading to his unjust end.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

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A Death in the Family
by James Agee

Published in 1957, A DEATH IN THE FAMILY won the 1958 prize for its potent depiction of loss and grief. This semi-autobiographical novel is fueled by powerful emotion.

A Death in the Family
James Agee

Published in 1957, A DEATH IN THE FAMILY won the 1958 prize for its potent depiction of loss and grief. This semi-autobiographical novel is fueled by powerful emotion.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

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The Stories of John Cheever
by John Cheever

John Cheever won the prize in 1979 for this tender and all-encompassing collection of short stories that give voice to “the greatest generation.”

The Stories of John Cheever
John Cheever

John Cheever won the prize in 1979 for this tender and all-encompassing collection of short stories that give voice to “the greatest generation.”

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Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

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The Executioner's Song
by Norman Mailer

In 1976, Gary Gilmore was arrested for two murders. Following his conviction, he began a notorious fight for his death sentence to be carried out and was finally killed by firing squad, making him the first person in almost ten years to be executed in the United States. In 1980, this exceptional fictionalized tale of Gilmore and the men and women tangled up in his life won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Executioner's Song
Norman Mailer

In 1976, Gary Gilmore was arrested for two murders. Following his conviction, he began a notorious fight for his death sentence to be carried out and was finally killed by firing squad, making him the first person in almost ten years to be executed in the United States. In 1980, this exceptional fictionalized tale of Gilmore and the men and women tangled up in his life won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

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The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
by Oscar Hijuelos

In 1990, Oscar Hijuelos became the first Hispanic person to win the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE. This novel travels back in time, telling the story of Cesar and Nestor Castillo, two Cuban brothers living in New York City in 1949, who are workers by day and stars of the dance halls by night.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Oscar Hijuelos

In 1990, Oscar Hijuelos became the first Hispanic person to win the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE. This novel travels back in time, telling the story of Cesar and Nestor Castillo, two Cuban brothers living in New York City in 1949, who are workers by day and stars of the dance halls by night.

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The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx

Awarded the prize in 1994, THE SHIPPING NEWS is an enchanting look at the contemporary American family. When a third-rate newspaper hack’s cheating wife dies, he and his daughters move to Newfoundland, where they must face their personal demons as a long winter closes in.

The Shipping News
Annie Proulx

Awarded the prize in 1994, THE SHIPPING NEWS is an enchanting look at the contemporary American family. When a third-rate newspaper hack’s cheating wife dies, he and his daughters move to Newfoundland, where they must face their personal demons as a long winter closes in.

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Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
This unique coming-of-age story about an intersex protagonist won the award in 2003. Based loosely off the author’s own Greek heritage, it follows the effects of a mutated gene on three generations of one Greek immigrant family.
Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides

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Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout
This 2009 winner tells the story of a small town through the eyes of one larger-than-life character: Olive Kitteridge. A retired teacher, Olive abhors and fixates on the changes taking place in her small town and the world at large, so much so that she often misses the changes occurring in those around her.
Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout

At times stern, at other times patient, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge is one of literature’s most complex characters in recent years. This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel offers profound insights into the human condition—its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

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The Orphan Master's Son
by Adam Johnson

Winner in 2013, this timely novel examines North Korea from the inside, providing one of the most substantial looks at an otherwise mysterious and often alarming nation. Jun Do, the main character, moves throughout North Korean society, from the brutal camps to the high society of Pyongyang, giving American readers a look at a society otherwise hidden away.

The Orphan Master's Son
Adam Johnson

Winner in 2013, this timely novel examines North Korea from the inside, providing one of the most substantial looks at an otherwise mysterious and often alarming nation. Jun Do, the main character, moves throughout North Korean society, from the brutal camps to the high society of Pyongyang, giving American readers a look at a society otherwise hidden away.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.

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