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Pulitzer prize

Apr 18 2014

…and the winner is

by Dea Anne M

The Pulitzer Prize winners for 2014 were announced on Monday, April 14, and among them was this year’s Fiction prize goldfinchwinner Donna Tartt for her novel The Goldfinch. The list of winners through the years since the inception of the Pulitzers in 1917 is an interesting one and seems to vary a great deal from many “great books” lists such as Modern Library’s 1oo Best Novels or TIME Magazine’s ALL-TIME 100 Novels. Many of the older Pulitzer winners are titles we recognize and still read today such as Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Other titles are less well known such as Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin, which won in 1929 and is set among the Gullah people of South Carolina, or Conrad Richter’s pioneer saga The Town.

The first Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded in 1918 and you’ll find a complete list of winners here. If you want to learn more I recommend The Pulitzer Prize Thumbnails Project site, which is full of interesting facts about the prize and has a neat link that will take you to the author Harry Kloman’s brief descriptions of each and every winning book.

Of course so much of this awarding of prizes has a large measure of subjectivity operating within the process and in the confederacyultimate decisions. I expect plenty of people over the years have disagreed with the Pulitzer panel’s choices. I know I have. I tried to reread John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, which won the prize in 1981, a few years ago and just could not get through it.

Do you pay attention to prize winners? Have you ever read a prize winner and been disappointed?

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s-ashesFrancis “Frank” McCourt, an Irish-American high school teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, died July 19 at the age of 73. He is best known as the author of Angela’s Ashes, a gripping memoir about his childhood growing up in both America and Ireland during the 1930s and 1940s. Angela’s Ashes was awarded the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, as well as the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award (Biography) and the 1997 Boeke Prize. It’s success led to it’s adaptation as a feature film released in 1999 by Paramount Pictures. Along with Angela’s Ashes, McCourt has published two additional autobiographical works which continue chronicling his life after his move back to America. ‘Tis examines his experiences attempting to acclimate to life in New York City, his stint in the Army, and his attendance and eventual graduation from NYU and later Brooklyn College, while Teacher Man focuses mainly on his life as a teacher in NYC public high schools. In addition to his autobiographical works, McCourt has also written a children’s picture book entitled Angela and the Baby Jesus and appeared as the host of a travel DVD entitled The Historic Pubs of Dublin. For those interested in more information on Mr. McCourt, Time magazine has published an obituary replete with details of his life and work. Additionally, I have linked to a NY Times piece wherein several of his former students have written letters sharing their recollections of him and the affect he had on their lives.

“My dream was to have a Library of Congress catalog number, that’s all,” said McCourt, speaking of his modest hopes for the success of Angela’s Ashes. It went on to sell over 5 million copies. Sometimes dreams come true, and then some. E 184.I6 .M117 1996


Apr 15 2008

Bob Dylan Wins a Pulitzer

by Chris S

Bob Dylan has been one of my favorite musicians for the last fifteen years. I “discovered” him twice – once in college when my brother shared with me some of Dylan’s early comic songs (like “Motorpsycho Nightmare” or “Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”), and once in my late 20s when I became entranced with Dylan’s masterful poetic folk-rock works like “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Desolation Row.” Dylan’s career has spanned five decades, and like Picasso, he has gone through many artistic phases, from his earliest days as a disciple of Woody Guthrie, through his dark-shades-wearing aloof hipster/poet phase, through a born-again Christian period of the late 70s/early 80s, and even a country phase (or two). These different faces of Dylan were the subject of I’m Not There, a recent critically-acclaimed film.

Last week, Dylan’s work got more recognition with a Pulitzer Prize. The Special Citation award describes “his profound
impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical
compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs:

[read the rest of this post…]


SpiegelmanjpgHaving been a fan for years of Art Spiegelman and his book Maus, I am ecstatic to tell you that he will be lecturing at SCAD’s (Savannah College of Art and Design) Atlanta campus this Tuesday, February 5th, at 7:30pm.  Yes, folks, that means tomorrow, also known as Super Tuesday!  So get your voting done early and head downtown for this once in a lifetime event.  The lecture is part of the SCAD-Atlanta Writer Series and is happening at 1600 Peachtree St. It’s free and open to the public and free on-site parking is available.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

From SCAD’s website: In 1992 Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful Holocaust narrative Maus, which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. The Los Angeles Times calls Spiegelman “…one of the New Yorker’s most sensational artists.” His comics are best known for their shifting graphic styles, formal complexity and controversial content. In this talk, Spiegelman will trace the history of cartoons from Hogarth to R. Crumb and will consider what he calls “forbidden images,” inspired by the commotion raised over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in early 2007. He believes that in our post-literate culture the importance of the comic is on the rise, as “comics echo the way our brain works.”

For more information on Spiegelman and his works, check out these links:


Creative Loafing interview with Spiegelman, published January 30, 2008.

An excellent guide to Maus from LaGuardia Community College / CUNY.  Contains historical information as well as study guides and sample pages from the book.

Maus Resources on the Web includes articles, interviews, and more links.

Harper’s Magazine link for Spiegelman’s June 2006 article about the Danish Muhammad drawings, entitled “Drawing Blood: Outrageous cartoons and the art of outrage”.  The article is not available here unless you subscribe to Harper’s, however.  I also tried to find the article in our GALILEO databases; interestingly enough, while many Harper’s articles are available in full-text, this particular article is only listed as a citation in all the databases I searched.  The Dunwoody Library does have a copy of the magazine in print, while the Decatur Library has back issues of Harper’s on microfilm.


Dec 26 2007

Alice Walker archive to Emory University

by Heather O

Georgia writer, poet, and activist Alice Walker plans on donating her literary archives to Emory University. Her archives will include her vast, award-winning body of work from childhood journals, early drafts, notebooks of poetry, and personal letters all detailing her journey as an author.

Her novel The Color Purple received the Pulitzer Prize, making Walker the firstAw1_2

African-American woman to win, the novel also received the National Book Award. Her contributions to literature ensure that her archives at Emory will be studied for years to come.

Emory University also holds an extensive African-American literary collection containing archives of Harlem Renaissance novelists and poets Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, and hundreds of playscripts including works by Zora Neale Hurston and August Wilson, among many others. Recent archives and papers acquired include those of Salman Rushdie, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney.

Search the DCPL catalog for the works of Alice Walker

Emory University news release

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Nov 14 2007

Norman Mailer (1923 – 2007)

by Heather O

Mailer Controversial, abrasive, and prolific, Norman Mailer outlasted most of his generation of writers remaining an influential literary figure until his death this past weekend. Pioneering the creative non-fiction/biographical novel genre, Mailer contributed to journalism, activism, theater, and the screen in his prodigious body of work. From his seminal 1948 work Naked and the Dead, a semi-autobiography of his WWII experience to Hitler’s alternate childhood in The Castle in the Forest in 2007. Two-time Pultizer Prize winner with 1968 The Armies of the Night (also a National Book Award winner) and The Executioner’s Song 1979. His larger-than life persona and abrasive behavior belongs to an earlier era: the writer as celebrity, the Hemingway school of huge ego and even bigger lifestyle. Heavy drinker, womanizer, existentialist hipster, protester, politician, brawler- Mailer was as provocative in life as his writings. From his infamous feuds with Arthur Miller and Truman Capote to his brief imprisonment for stabbing one of his six wives, Mailer never shied away from the spotlight or backed away from conflict. While Mailer may never have written the ‘Great American Novel’ his body of literature truly represents America: from the 1968 Democratic convention, Marilyn Monroe, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Apollo mission, feminism, McCarthyism, and the death penalty – Mailer was a keen observer and critic of the epic that is American culture.

Check the online catalog or your DeKalb County Public Library branch for more Norman Mailer life and literature.

New York Times obituary

NPR obituary and interviews.

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