I use this page to keep track of Pulitzer prize winning fiction I’ve read. At this point, I haven’t read very many, but I’d like to read more. Let me know how many of these you’ve read and what you recommend or don’t recommend. If you’re a blogger, make your own page and comment here with a link to your blog’s Pulitzer Prize fiction page.
“Pulitzer is a word but accomplishment is an aura.”
— Chila Woychik
I’ve gone one step further in evaluating the novels on this list – I looked to Amazon for information on genre, plot and page count, all factors that will help me decide which books to put on my 2020 reading list. (My 2019 reading list is already set in ascii and is only slightly flexible.)
So many books; so little time! Consequently, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to read all these books unless I live an extraordinary amount of time, therefore I’m identifying books that especially interest me with the heart icon, for the first time on this blog.
I’m not finished with this page yet – but am publishing it anyhow. I’ve already linked back 20 years. Eventually I’d like to get all the book links onto the page for easy examination of them on the Amazon site. My Amazon links provide a little affiliate income for me which is very much appreciated, just in case you go ahead and buy something after using one of my links.
Here’s a Goodreads group of people reading and discussing these books: Tackling the Pulitzer Prize Winners!
♥ – I want to read this
☆ – I own a copy of the book
★★ – I own a copy and am currently reading the book
✓ – Finished (15)
✓ Winner: The Overstory, by Richard Powers – 512 pages – literary fiction; trees and the loving preservation of them.
♥ Finalist: The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai – 448 pages – coming of age fiction; centers on Chicago and the AIDS epidemic.
Finalist: There There, by Tommy Orange – 304 pages – Native American literature; twelve Native Americans at a powwow.
Winner: Less, by Andrew Sean Greer – 272 pages – humor; a novelist travels the world
♥ Finalist: In the Distance, by Hernan Diaz – 240 pages – western, family saga; a lonely young man travels east from California
Finalist: The Idiot, by Elif Batuman – 432 pages – humor; a Turkish-American girl at Harvard coming of age
Winner: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead – 336 pages – historical fiction; a woman tries to escape from slavery
Finalist: Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett – 368 pages – literary fiction, family drama; engaged to be married, a man is hospitalized for depression, told by all five members of the family
Finalist: The Sport of Kings, by C.E. Morgan – 560 pages – family saga, sports fiction, literary fiction; two Kentucky families, one white, one black
Winner: The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen – 348 pages – espionage thriller – a French-Vietnamese communist double agent immigrates to California after the war, continuing his espionage
Finalist: Get in Trouble: Stories, by Kelly Link – 368 pages – humor; nine short stories
♥ Finalist: Maud’s Line, by Margaret Verble – 304 pages – historical fiction; a Cherokee girl’s coming of age in Eastern Oklahoma, c.1928
✓ Winner: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – 544 pages – war fiction; World War II: a German boy, a French girl . . . what will happen when they meet?
Finalist: Let Me Be Frank with You, by Richard Ford – 256 pages – contemporary fiction; this is part of the Frank Bascombe series; it would be best to start with the other three books: The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land
Finalist: The Moor’s Account, by Laila Lalami – 336 pages – ethnic literature; an African slave travels with Spanish conquistadors to America, and is one of four survivors of a shipwreck
Finalist: Lovely, Dark, Deep, by Joyce Carol Oates – 432 pages – short stories; there are thirteen short stories in this collection
✓ Winner: The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt – 771 pages – young adult fiction; a 13 year old boy is in an accident that kills his mother
Finalist: The Son, by Philipp Meyer – 592 pages – western – in Texas a 12 year old boy is kidnapped by the Comanche after his mother and sister are killed
Finalist: The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, by Bob Shacochis – 736 pages – literary fiction – explores fifty years of world history leading up to 9/11
Winner: The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson – 442 pages – political thriller; a young man in North Korea gives his loyalty to the country he lives in and loves
Finalist: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander – 240 pages – short stories; eight short stories with a Jewish theme
♥ Finalist: The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey – 389 pages – magical realism; in Alaska, 1920, a lonely couple finds a young girl living in the woods
Winner: No award given.
Finalist: Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson – 116 pages – literary fiction; a man living in the American west during the twentieth century witnesses the transformation of his country
Finalist: Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell – 400 pages – women’s fiction; a teenage girl lives at an alligator theme park on an island in Florida
Finalist: The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace (posthumous nominee) – 592 pages – literary fiction; a trainee at the IRS processing center experiences the boredom of the job
Winner: A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan – 352 pages – psychological fiction; a novel of interconnected short stories with a contemporary music theme
Finalist: The Privileges, by Jonathan Dee – 288 pages – family saga; a couple with everything given to them is tested by a desire for infinite possibility
Finalist: The Surrendered, by Chang-Rae Lee – 496 pages – ethnic literature; three characters meet at a Korean orphanage; years later there is a reckoning in America
Winner: Tinkers, by Paul Harding – 191 pages – psychological fiction; a dying clock repairman experiences psychological anomalies
Finalist: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin – 256 pages – short stories; linked short stories based in Pakistan
Finalist: Love in Infant Monkeys, by Lydia Millet – 177 pages – short stories; ten short stories
Winner: Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout – 320 pages – women’s fiction; a retired schoolteacher grapples with personal and community problems in Maine
Finalist: All Souls, by Christine Schutt – 240 pages – psychological fiction; a girl at a private prep school in NYC falls ill
Finalist: The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich – 352 pages – family saga; in North Dakota, a white and Ojibwe family deals with an unsolved murder
Winner: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz – 339 pages – ethnic fiction; an overweight ghetto dweller wants to find love and write books, but there are problems
Finalist: Shakespeare’s Kitchen, by Lore Segal – 225 pages – short stories; thirteen short stories
Finalist: Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson – 720 pages – war fiction; a CIA psychological operations agent in Vietnam and two brothers from Houston deal with disinformation during the war
✓ Winner: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – 287 pages – post-apocalyptic; a man and his son wander through a destroyed world of peril and darkness
Finalist: After This, by Alice McDermott – 288 pages – family saga; a family challenged by the various paths the children take as young adults
Finalist: The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers – 451 pages – a young man, an accident, a coma, and a neurological anomaly – what could it mean?
☆ Winner: March, by Geraldine Brooks – 320 pages – epistolary fiction; the absent father of the March girls (Little Women) and the Civil War
Finalist: The Bright Forever, by Lee Martin – 304 pages – family saga; a nine year old Indiana girl disappears while cycling to her library
Finalist: The March, by E. L. Doctorow – 363 pages – war fiction; Sherman’s march to the sea, through Georgia during the Civil War
✓ Winner: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson – 247 pages – epistolary fiction; a dying pastor writes a journal for his very young son
Finalist: An Unfinished Season, by Ward Just – 256 pages – literary fiction; 1950’s, Cold War, family drama
Finalist: War Trash, by Ha Jin – 368 pages – war fiction; Chinese men in a POW camp during the Korean War
Winner: The Known World, by Edward P. Jones – 432 pages – ethnic fiction; a black farmer’s transition to freedom after slavery
Finalist: American Woman, by Susan Choi – 369 pages – psychological fiction; a young female fugitive cares for other fugitives after an act of violence against the government
Finalist: Evidence of Things Unseen, by Marianne Wiggin – 400 pages – war fiction; a Tennessee man between the two world wars
✓ Winner: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides – 544 pages – family saga; a child is born as a hermaphrodite and this is the story of her/his life
Finalist: Servants of the Map, by Andrea Barrett – 320 pages – short stories; six stories from various locales, including Theories of Rain and The Mysteries of Ubiquitin
Finalist: You Are Not a Stranger Here, by Adam Haslett – 256 pages – short stories; also classified as psychological fiction since many characters are depressed
Winner: Empire Falls, by Richard Russo – 483 pages – psychological humor; blue collar workers issues in small town America.
Finalist: The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen – 576 pages – literary fiction; a mother wants her children home for one last Christmas dinner.
Finalist: John Henry Days, by Colson Whitehead – 385 pages – men’s adventure fiction; a black railroad worker dies while outdistancing a machine – an American legend retold.
Winner: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon – 684 pages – humorous literature; two boys making up fantasy heroes.
Finalist: Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates – 752 pages – biographical historic fiction; a reimagining of the life of Marilyn Monroe.
Finalist: The Quick and the Dead, by Joy Williams – 320 pages – western literary fiction; adventures of three teenagers in the American desert.
Winner: Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri – 198 pages – paranormal & urban fantasy short stories; deals with the universal feelings of foreigners.
Finalist: Close Range: Wyoming Stories, by Annie Proulx – 285 pages – literary short stories; stories of desperation and elation set in Wyoming.
Finalist: Waiting, by Ha Jin – 308 pages – literary fiction; love triangle during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Winner: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham – 240 pages – literary fiction; Virginia Woolf’s last days and a storyteller and his friend.
Finalist: The HoursCloudsplitter, by Russell Banks – 768 pages – literary fiction; first person pre-civil war era narration by the son of John Brown, abolitionist who used violence to fight slavery.
✓ Finalist: The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver – 576 pages – literary fiction; an evangelical missionary family in Africa.
Winner: American Pastoral, by Philip Roth – 423 pages – literary fiction; a man achieves the American dream only to have his daughter go berserk.
Finalist: Bear and His Daughter: Stories, by Robert Stone – 222 pages – short story collection
Finalist: Underworld, by Don DeLillo – 848 pages – classic literature – an artist and an executive connect in the 50’s and again in the 90’s.
Winner: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, by Steven Millhauser – 293 pages – biographical historical fiction; a man’s rise from a humble job to the top of his field, and his sisters.
Finalist: The Manikin, by Joanna Scott – 228 pages – coming of age fiction; a taxidermist and the daughter of his indentured servant.
Finalist: Unlocking the Air and Other Stories, by Ursula K. Le Guin – 207 pages – short stories; magical realism and surrealism.
Winner: Independence Day, by Richard Ford
Finalist: Mr. Ives’ Christmas, by Oscar Hijuelos
Finalist: Sabbath’s Theater, by Philip Roth
Winner: The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields
Finalist: The Collected Stories of Grace Paley, by Grace Paley
Finalist: What I Lived For, by Joyce Carol Oates
Winner: The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx
Finalist: The Collected Stories of Reynolds Price, by Reynolds Price
Finalist: Operation Shylock: A Confession, by Philip Roth
Winner: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, by Robert Olen Butler
Finalist: At Weddings and Wakes, by Alice McDermott
Finalist: Black Water, by Joyce Carol Oates
Winner: A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley
Finalist: Jernigan, by David Gates
Finalist: Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, by Robert M. Pirsig
Finalist: Mao II, by Don DeLillo
Winner: Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike
Finalist: Mean Spirit, by Linda Hogan
Finalist: The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
Winner: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Oscar Hijuelos
Finalist: Billy Bathgate, by E. L. Doctorow
Winner: Breathing Lessons, by Anne Tyler
Finalist: Where I’m Calling From, by Raymond Carver
Winner: Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Finalist: Persian Nights, by Diane Johnson
Finalist: That Night, by Alice McDermott
Winner: A Summons to Memphis, by Peter Taylor
Finalist: Paradise, by Donald Barthelme
Finalist: Whites, by Norman Rush
Winner: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Finalist: The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
Finalist: Continental Drift, by Russell Banks
Winner: Foreign Affairs, by Alison Lurie
Finalist: I Wish This War Were Over, by Diana O’Hehir
Finalist: Leaving the Land, by Douglas Unger
Winner: Ironweed, by William Kennedy
Finalist: Cathedral, by Raymond Carver
Finalist: The Feud, by Thomas Berger
✓ Winner: The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Finalist: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler
Finalist: Rabbis and Wives, by Chaim Grade
Winner: Rabbit Is Rich, by John Updike
Finalist: A Flag for Sunrise, by Robert Stone
Finalist: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson
Winner: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (posthumous win)
Finalist: Godric, by Frederick Buechner
Finalist: So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell
Winner: The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer
Finalist: Birdy, by William Wharton
Finalist: The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth
Winner: The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever
Winner: Elbow Room, by James Alan McPherson
Winner: No award given
Finalist: A River Runs Through It, by Norman MacLean
Finalist: Roots, by Alex Haley (special Pulitzer Prize)
Winner: Humboldt’s Gift, by Saul Bellow
Winner: The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
Winner: No award given
Finalist: Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
Winner: The Optimist’s Daughter, by Eudora Welty
Winner: Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
Winner: No award given
Winner: The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford, by Jean Stafford
Winner: House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday
Winner: The Confessions of Nat Turner, by William Styron
Winner: The Fixer, by Bernard Malamud
Winner: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, by Katherine Anne Porter
Winner: The Keepers of the House, by Shirley Ann Grau
Winner: No award given
Winner: The Reivers by William Faulkner, (posthumous win)
✓ Winner: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Winner: Advise and Consent, by Allen Drury
Winner: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, by Robert Lewis Taylor
✓ Winner: A Death in the Family, by James Agee (posthumous win)
No award given
Finalist: The Voice At The Back Door, by Elizabeth Spencer
Winner: Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor
Winner: A Fable, by William Faulkner
Winner: No award given
✓ Winner: The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Winner: The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk
Winner: The Town, by Conrad Richter
Winner: The Way West, by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
Winner: Guard of Honor, by James Gould Cozzens
Winner: Tales of the South Pacific, by James A. Michener
Winner: All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
Winner: no award given
Winner: A Bell for Adano, by John Hersey
Winner: Journey in the Dark, by Martin Flavin
Winner: Dragon’s Teeth, by Upton Sinclair
Winner: In This Our Life, by Ellen Glasgow
Winner: no award given
✓ Winner: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
✓ Winner: The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Winner: The Late George Apley, by John Phillips Marquand
✓ Winner: Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Winner: Honey in the Horn, by Harold L. Davis
Winner: Now in November, by Josephine Winslow Johnson
Winner: Lamb in His Bosom, by Caroline Miller
Winner: The Store, by Thomas Sigismund Stribling
✓ Winner: The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
Winner: Years of Grace, by Margaret Ayer Barnes
Winner: Laughing Boy, by Oliver La Farge
Winner: Scarlet Sister Mary, by Julia Peterkin
Winner: The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder
Winner: Early Autumn, by Louis Bromfield
Winner: Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis (declined prize)
Winner: So Big, by Edna Ferber
Winner: The Able McLaughlins, by Margaret Wilson
Winner: One of Ours, by Willa Cather
Winner: Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington
Winner: The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
Winner: no award given
Winner: The Magnificent Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington
Winner: His Family, by Ernest Poole