14 Aug A Diner, Coffee Rings And The Pulitzer
Do books that win or are finalists for literary awards make you more interested in reading them? Are awards such as the Man Booker, PEN/Hemingway, or the Pulitzer enticing, or do you even care?
Personally I’ve felt both ways. A few years ago I was sort of anti-Pulitzer books, which stemmed largely from the 2015 win of All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. A fan of that book I was not and to win such a prestigious prize made me want to choke. But that’s just me and I know most would disagree with that assessment.
I have a list of all of the fiction Pulitzer winners and it’s interesting to peruse and see which on the list I have read over the years. Some of the books that have taken the prize amaze me and not in a good way. While writing requires a honed skill, it also needs the right eye to see its beauty. We are entitled to our opinions and some opinions are clearly the majority and some are not.
To each their own, I suppose.
Some Pulitzer Prize favorites of mine and the year they won:
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, 1981
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, 1992
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, 2003
The Road by Cormac McCarthy, 2007
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, 2014
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, 2016
A few years ago there was a friend on social media who only posted about books that had won the Pulitzer. I thought this was really interesting and informative and I liked hearing him speak about the various prize-winning books. Of the favorite books listed above, all but A Thousand Acres were read in the last few years. It was his insight and views that kind of opened my mind again to those books.
I love book people!
Empire Falls by Richard Russo has been on my shelf for a long time. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning book (2002) that I always come across in used book stores for whatever reason. I am familiar with Russo because he wrote Nobody’s Fool, which became a movie that is one of my favorites to this day. If you haven’t somewhat guessed, Russo writes about the average person living a normal life. His contemporary domestic dramas are right up my alley and my favorite genre to boot.
Here is a synopsis from Amazon:
• Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace •
Empire Falls has a (sort of) lengthy prologue, which I read last evening after finishing another book. Today I peeked a little at the first chapter and of course it sucked me in.
Russo has a brand new book titled Chances Are, which is sort of what prompted this whole post. I don’t have this book yet, but I am on hold for it and I can’t wait to read it. I’d give you the synopsis, but I’ve already worn your eyes out, so go check it out.
FYI, I’m still reading Lonesome Dove (which also won the Pulitzer in 1986), in case you were wondering.
“I don’t believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.”
– Lawrence Durrell