2009's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction was recently awarded to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. It dawned on me that I hear the term "Pulitzer Prize winning" all the time, yet I am extremely ignorant about that award. So I did a little research, and you, dear reader, will now know more about the Pulitzer Prize than you ever wanted to know!
The first Pulitzer Awards were given in 1917 and were made possible by a fund left to Columbia University by Joseph Pulitzer. He was a journalist and newspaper publisher who died in 1911. There are currently 21 categories covering almost anything one can imagine; breaking news photography, editorial cartooning, and public service to name a few. I have just heard the most about the fiction and poetry winners, so I didn't know there were so many other categories. To win a Pulitzer Prize, a work actually has to be entered along with a $50 entrance fee. I wonder if authors enter their own stuff or have their publishers do it. Winners are chosen by an independent board that currently has 18 members. In all categories except Public Service, the winners receive $10,000 cash. The Public Service winner receives a gold medal. What I don't know, but would like to know, is do each of the board members read/look at every entry or how is that divided between them? I also wonder how many entries are received each year.
When I saw that a book I have read won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009, it made me wonder how many of the other year's winners I have read. So I looked up the list of winners to see. I have read only 6 winners: Olive Kitteridge, The Road, Gilead, Beloved, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Caine Mutiny. I do have a few of the other winners on my bookshelf, though.
And just in case anyone reading this has a novel or poem they would like to enter for consideration of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, details may be found at www.pulitzer.org.