Weigh in on the 2009 Pulitzer winners

2009 Pulitzer winners were announced this week. What have you read, what's on your nightstand, and what do you wish had won instead?

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
A collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating.

Ruined by Lynn Nottage
A searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)
A painstaking exploration of a sprawling multi-generation slave family that casts provocative new light on the relationship between Sally Hemings and her master, Thomas Jefferson.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)
An unflinching portrait of a not always admirable democrat but a pivotal president, written with an agile prose that brings the Jackson saga to life.

The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)
a collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory.

General Nonfiction
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)
A precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.


Katie said…
I have to say I was excited to see American Lion had won. I'm a creative writing student in Chattanooga and attend the Meacham Writers' Conference every semester, a free conference open to the public in honor of Jon Meacham's mother. When he read in his hometown, the store was packed and Meacham was extremely entertaining, but I still doubt I'll ever read the book. History's never been my thing and I don't have the patience to slog through all 500+ pages.
In other opinions, I love to see that Merwin won. He's one of my favorite poets, though I haven't read any of his older work. I will have to buy this collection.
Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks for the great comment, Katie.

I had the same thought about "American Lion" -- I keep hearing how wonderful it is, but the task of reading it is a little daunting, as busy as I am right now. (The better the writing, the slower I read. I'm not a good skimmer.)

Check out Merwin's anti-war poetry from the '60s. I just realized, it'll probably ring completely fresh and true for the next generation.

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