Paying attention to the Pulitzers

April 8, 2008
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There's always lots of hype about the Academy Awards and the Grammys, but doesn't anyone care about the Pulitzer Prizes which were announced yesterday?

Among this year's winners:

Fiction: "The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz

Drama: "August: Osage County" by Tracy Letts

History: "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe

Biography: "Eden's Outcasts" by John Matteson

Poetry: "Time and Materials" by Robert Haas

Poetry: "Failure" by Philip Schultz

So are you impressed when someone is listed as a Pulitzer-Prize winner?

Would that designation make you more likely to read a book, go to hear a speaker, or see a show?

FYI: 2007's Pulitzer for fiction went to Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." The 2007 award for drama was scored by "Rabbit Hole," which is part of the Indiana Repertory Theatre's 2008/2009 season.

Your thoughts?
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  • I'm more likely to pick up a book I don't know anything or much about if it has won one. I peruse used book stores/Goodwill for things to read and if I find one that looks interesting or is a Pulitzer winner, I'll most likely buy it. I found Lahiri Jhumpa's Interpreter or Maladies that way. I actually found the book at a yard sale and read every story and loved them all. If there was going to be a Pulitzer winner here speaking, and if I had read the book and enjoyed it, then yes, I would go to see them speak. Poetry I prefer to find on my own regardless of what the Pulitzer picks are. I think it's fantastic for the writers to win one - Jhumpa may not have been that widely read if she had not won and that would be a shame.
  • First of all Firewoman, her name is Jhumpa Lahiri not the other way around, and if anyone has not yet read 'Interpreter of Maladies' you are really missing out.

    Second, while I may be more likely to randomly pick a book that has won a Pulitzer, I think the discussion should focus on the winners in art features and criticism. There are a lot of really talented authors, etc. worthy of the award. Worthy critics however, seem to be few and far between.
  • Of course the Pulitzer's matter! I might not follow them all that closely or even be able to name any of the winners in a given year, but it's great that there are competitions out there encouraging and rewarding achievement in the arts and letters.

    Don't forget about two of the most important winners (in my opinion):

    Feature Writing - Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post for his feature of Josh Bell's undercover performance in a Washington Metro Station

    and

    Music - David Lang for The Little Match Girl. I don't know the work or the composer yet, but it's always important to keep supporting living American composers.

    Not to mention Bob Dylan's special citation.
  • With all the hype surrounding videos and all things electronic, thank goodness something still recognizes the power of the written word. Yes, the Pulitzers matter. Nothing can take us outside ourselves like a superbly written story, and I still believe being able to hold one in your hand, words printed on paper with all the longevity that implies, beats reading something online every time.
  • Um.. first of all, Christopher thanks for pointing out that I flipped around her name. If you had read my whole post you would see that I refer to her as Jhumpa further down, thus illustrating that I do, in fact, know her name. I must've flipped it around when I was verifying how to spell it. I'll be sure to more carefully read my posts next time since there's a post critic.
  • I agree with Scott - Gene Weingarten's article Pearls Before Breakfast is wonderful.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

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