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Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Learn about the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This award is for distinguished fiction published in book form by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. The award started as the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, which was awarded between 1918 and 1947.
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YearBook TitleBook CoverAuthorPublisherSynopsis
2016The SympathizerViet Thanh NguyenGrove PressA layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a "man of two minds" -- and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.
2015All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony DoerrScribnerWhen Paris is invaded by the Nazis, Marie-Laure LeBlanc's father evacuates her to St. Malo to stay with her great-uncle. Blind since the age of six, MarieLaure must learn the town by the scale model her father has left. Then, the Germans arrive.
2014The GoldfinchDonna Tartt Little, BrownAt the age of thirteen, Theo Decker survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is raised by wealthy family friends. His one connection to his mother--a painting--draws Theo into New York City's underground art world as he grows older.
2013The Orphan Master's SonAdam Johnson Random HousePak Jun Do spends his childhood on an orphan slave-labor crew-- even though his father runs the orphanage. Later he is placed on kidnap duty, snatching Japanese citizens whose skills are needed. Over time, his assignments grow increasingly dangerous.
2011A Visit from the Goon SquadJennifer Egan Alfred A.. KnopfThe members of a fictional 1980s San Francisco punk band, along with their groupies, enjoy temporary fame and settle into middle age. Sasha, a secretary and kleptomaniac, and her music-producer boss Bennie Salazar, the former bass player, self-destruct before seeking redemption.
2010TinkersPaul Harding Bellevue Literary PressAs clock restorer George Washington Crosby lies dying in his Massachusetts home, he hallucinates and channels his late father Howard. A tinker and mystic, Howard worked as a traveling peddler to keep his epilepsy a secret.
2009Olive KitteridgeElizabeth Strout Random HouseThirteen stories set in a small community on the Maine coast are linked by the presence of Olive Kitteridge, retired teacher and pharmacist's wife.
2008The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJunot Diaz Riverhead BooksOverweight Dominican American Oscar works as a substitute teacher and dreams about being a famous writer. Oscar grew up with his rebellious sister Lola and beautiful mother, but the ancient curse of fukú haunts their lives--until he decides to do something about it.
2007The RoadCormac McCarthy Alfred A. KnopfA father and his young son journey south after the destruction of the civilized world. Their survival kit consists of a few blankets, a pistol, a cart of scavenged food, and their love for each other. Their values are tested by occasional encounters with other desperate survivors.
2006MarchGeraldine Brooks VikingReverend March, the husband and father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women leaves Connecticut to become an army chaplain during the Civil War. An assignment to teach freed slaves on a plantation changes March's view of humanity while hardship hurts his family.
2005GileadMarilynne Robinson FarrarDying seventy-six-year-old Gilead, Iowa, minister John Ames writes a parting letter to his young son. John reflects on the tensions between his pacifist father and militant abolitionist grandfather (both preachers), the death of his first wife and child, the gospel, a friend's transgressions, and life's eternal mystery.
2004The Known WorldEdward P. Jones Amistad/ HarperCollinsAt his death Henry Townsend, a thirty-one year-old former slave who maintains a relationship with his owner William Robbins, owns more than thirty slaves himself and fifty acres of land. But now his plantation begins to fall apart as slaves betray one another.
2003MiddlesexJeffrey Eugenides FarrarAt forty-one, hermaphrodite Cal Stephanides examines the rare genetic mutation that has caused his gender to change since his birth as a girl in 1960. He describes his teenage revelations, his Greek grandparents' guilty secret, and his coming-of-age in Detroit.
2002Empire FallsRichard Russo Alfred A. KnopfEmpire Falls, Maine, was once a thriving town with three mills. But the owners, the Whitings, have allowed their vast holdings to become decrepit real estate. Miles Roby, who runs the Empire Grill for Mrs. Whiting, recounts the tale of this dying town with bemused regret.
2001The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayMichael Chabon Random HouseAn eighteen-year-old artist and magician flees Czechoslovakia for his cousin's New York home. With their love of legend and fantasy, the boys launch a superhero comic-book series. The golden age of comic art is at hand, but so are the horrors of global war.
2000Interpreter of MaladiesJhumpa Lahiri Mariner Books/Houghton MifflinNine tales of brief encounters with lasting effects, set in India and America. Each emphasizes cultural transition and loss. In the title piece, while Americanborn Mr. and Mrs. Das and their three young children are tourists in India, Mrs. Das confides a disquieting secret to their guide.
1999The HoursMichael Cunningham Farrar, Straus & GirouxThe spirit of Virginia Woolf permeates the lives of several American readers as evidenced in this trio of tales about the author Woolf, a New Yorker planning a party to honor a writer, and a young mother reading Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.
1998American PastoralPhilip Roth Houghton MifflinAfter military service in World War II, handsome, athletic "Swede" Levov weds Miss New Jersey, takes over the family business, and moves to the posh suburbs. His dream life unravels in the late 1960s, when daughter Meredith joins an antiwar terrorist group bent on undermining all that Swede lives for.
1997Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American DreamerSteven Millhauser CrownFrom a boy working in his father's New York City cigar shop in the late 1800s, Martin Dressler rises to the pinnacle of entrepreneurial success during the early 1900s. His vision leads him to build the Grand Cosmo, the ultimate hotel, retail center, and theme park. Only later does he realize that "he had dreamed the wrong dream."
1996Independence DayRichard Ford Alfred A. KnopfSeven years ago Frank Bascombe got divorced, yet he is still in his "existence period." Perhaps things will change this Fourth of July weekend. After a brief trip to see his longtime girlfriend, who may take him into a "permanent period," Frank plans to take his son, Paul, fifteen and recently arrested for shoplifting, to visit several sports halls of fame. But fate steps in along the way.
1995The Stone DiariesCarol Shields VikingA fictional biography about the life of Daisy Stone Goodwill--a life that begins on the Canadian prairies, moves south to the American Midwest, and ends in Florida. Daisy's tale is the story of an ordinary woman, resigned to her lot, but aware that her internal views don't quite match what those around her assume. Her diary records the facts, but her heart feels real joy and sadness.
1994The Shipping NewsE. Annie Proulx Charles Scribner's SonsThe story centers around Quoyle, a lowly newspaper reporter. When his wife, Petal Bear, runs off with another man and gets killed, Quoyle's aunt convinces the distraught man to move with his two daughters to an abandoned family home in Newfoundland. Quoyle goes to work for a sleazy paper covering the shipping news and learns to fit right in.
1993A Good Scent from a Strange MountainRobert Olen Butler Henry HoltA community of Vietnamese immigrants near New Orleans are the subject of fifteen short stories in which characters narrate tales set in their adopted and their native lands.
1992A Thousand AcresJane Smiley Alfred A. KnopfLarry Cook owns a thousand acres of Iowa farmland that is unmortgaged and some of the richest soil around. At a party given in celebration of the return of Jess Clark, a local man, after an absence of thirteen years, Cook announces that he is retiring and dividing the land among his three daughters. But the gift soon begins to tear the family apart, and secrets, long hidden, begin to surface.
1991Rabbit At RestJohn Updike Alfred A. KnopfEx-basketball player Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo, and a second grandchild. His son and daughter-in-law are acting erratically, his wife Janice wants to work, and Rabbit is searching his soul, looking for reasons to live.
1990The Mambo Kings Play Songs of LoveOscar Hijuelos FarrarIt's a hot summer night and Cesar Castillo, in the Hotel Splendour at 125th and Lenox on New York's upper west side, pours himself another drink and remembers his life thirty years ago. He and his brother Nestor had fled Batista's Cuba and formed "The Mambo Kings," a jazz group playing the clubs of Harlem. Now Cesar is dying and drinking and mourning the loss of his youth, past loves, and his brother.
1989Breathing LessonsAnne Tyler Alfred A. KnopfAs Maggie and Ira Moran travel from Baltimore to a funeral in Pennsylvania, they reflect upon their lives, the lives of their children, and their hopes for the future. An amusing and perceptive account of marriage and contemporary middle-class American life.
1988BelovedToni Morrison Alfred A. KnopfRelated in kaleidoscopic fashion and set in rural Ohio during the period immediately following the Civil War, this chronicle of slavery and its aftermath traces the life of Sethe, a former slave. Sethe has a secret in her past so horrific that it has alienated the community, driven off her two sons, isolated her surviving daughter, and threatened her new, loving relationship with Paul D., also a former slave.
1987A Summons to MemphisPeter Taylor Alfred A. KnopfPhilip, an editor, has a new life in New York and shares an apartment with fellow-worker Holly. He returns to Memphis and to the petty meddling of his family when his two spinster sisters summon him to help them ruin their eightyone-year-old father's wedding plans.
1986Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtry Simon & SchusterA three-thousand-mile cattle drive, from the banks of the Rio Grande to Montana's big sky country, is the setting for this vivid epic which describes the developing American West and the ranchers, cowboys, prostitutes, and adventurers who attempt to make a new life for themselves in its vast reaches.
1985Foreign AffairsAlison Lurie Random HouseTwo English professors, both Americans, from the same university are on leave in London to do research. Vinnie Miner is fifty-four, unmarried, and happy to be back in the city she loves. Fred Turner is twenty-eight and separated from his wife. Both Vinnie and Fred indulge in affairs with unlikely persons and learn more about themselves from the experiences.
1984IronweedWilliam Kennedy VikingCompassionate, tough-minded novel concerns aging Francis Phelan, a former mechanic, major-league third baseman, lush, and murderer, who is now back in Albany after twenty-two years on the lam. Set during the Depression, the supporting cast includes crooks, bums, cons, gamblers, and working stiffs.
1983The Color PurpleAlice Walker Harcourt BraceFollows two black sisters--Nettie, a missionary, and Celie, raped by her father and married to a cruel man. Nettie's letters do not reach Celie, and Celie's shame is so great that she writes only to God.
1982Rabbit Is RichJohn Updike KnopfHarry Angstrom has come to enjoy prosperity as the Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors. The rest of the world may be falling to pieces, but Harry's doing all right. That is, until his son returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot.
1981A Confederacy of DuncesJohn Kennedy Toole Louisiana State U. PressSlovenly, obese Ignatius Reilly is forced to seek employment in New Orleans after his tipsy mother has a car accident. Reilly, a medievalist who hates everything modern, runs through a succession of jobs in which he wreaks havoc.
1980The Executioner's SongNorman Mailer LittleTrue-life novel meticulously details the events of a haunting nine-month period. An obscure criminal, Gary M. Gilmore, who is sentenced to die for two murders, rejects any attempts at reprieve and becomes the first man executed in America in more than a decade. Mailer scrupulously presents the evidence in the case and its outcome.
1979The Stories of John CheeverJohn Cheever KnopfSixty-one tales about marriage, suburbia, the middle class, Manhattan, families, theology, and decency.
1978Elbow RoomJames Alan McPherson Atlantic Monthly PressCollection of twelve versatile short stories involve a young urban black who delights in country music, the partners in an interracial marriage, and the jealousy of lovers.
1976Humboldt's GiftSaul Bellow VikingNovel about what American writers are really like. Explores the relationship between a poet, Von Humboldt Fleisher, who enjoyed a brief glimpse of fame, and a young friend, Charlie Citrine, a playwright and biographer whose star is rising.
1975The Killer AngelsMichael Shaara McKayThis fictionalized version of the battle of Gettysburg portrays many actual participants, such as Generals Lee, Longstreet, and Meade, as well as fictionalized characters, such as Col. Joshua Chamberlain, whose vivid rhetoric inspires his men.
1973The Optimist's DaughterEudora Welty RandomLaurel Hand, a middle-aged widow since World War II, returns home to a small Mississippi town after the death of her beloved father, a judge. There she confronts her past to gain a better understanding of herself and her parents.
1972Angle of ReposeWallace Stegner DoubledayHistorian Lyman Ward, immobilized by illness and deserted by his wife, has retired to his ancestral California cabin to research his family's past. The loveless marriage of his grandparents--a cultivated eastern artist and a pragmatic mining engineer--mirrors the troubled expansion of the American West.
1970The Collected Stories of Jean StaffordJean Stafford FarrarA collection of short stories centering on the individual and his or her relation to time and place, frequently set during the cocktail hour and the dinner party afterward.
1969House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday HarperA Kiowa Indian poet and scholar traces the experience of an unassimilated Indian who cannot adjust to the white world or identify with the dying culture of the American Indian.
1968The Confessions of Nat TurnerWilliam Styron RandomA fictionalized first-person account of the 1831 Virginia slave rebellion. Nat Turner, instigator of the bloody revolt, begins the story with his capture. As Nat dictates his statement to the jailers, he turns to a childhood spent under a master who promised freedom. Circumstances change and Nat's suppression and betrayal prompt the planned uprising.
1967The FixerBernard Malamud FarrarBased on an actual court case involving the attempt of Russian authorities to discredit Judaism by accusing one Jew of a ritual murder. The book describes the dehumanizing abuse and torture endured by an innocent man awaiting trial.
1966The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter Katherine Anne PorterHarcourtThis volume brings together short story collections Flowering Judas; Pale Horse, Pale Rider; and The Leaning Tower as well as four stories not available elsewhere in book form.
1965The Keepers Of The HouseShirley Ann Grau RandomWilliam Howland married his African American housekeeper after his first wife died. But he didn't announce his marriage in his Southern town and sent his mixed-race children away to school. Now as Howland's legacy is revealed, his granddaughter faces society's wrath as his only surviving white heir.
1963The ReiversWilliam Faulkner RandomOn a summer day in 1905, young Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck to "borrow" his grandfather's car and make a trip to Memphis. Ned McCaslin, an old black man, stows away and the three are off on a heroic odyssey which ends at a bordello.
1962The Edge of SadnessEdwin O'Connor LittleA glimpse into the family-centered world of a decaying Irish-Catholic parish as seen by its priest. An insightful skeptic, he discloses much about his own life as he talks of his long connection with patriarch Charlie Carmody and his family.
1961To Kill A MockingbirdHarper Lee LippincottScout Finch is an outspoken and literate six-year-old tomboy when she begins her tale of growing up in a small Alabama town with her brother Jem and her attorney father Atticus. The children's intense curiosity about a reclusive neighbor is eclipsed by Atticus's attempt to defend a black man against charges of raping a white woman.
1960Advise and ConsentAllen Drury DoubledayPolitical machinations and personal conflict are activated when the Senate must decide whether to confirm the president's nominee for secretary of state. Most are in favor of the nominee, but a senator from the South has reservations.
1959The Travels of Jaimie McPheetersRobert Lewis Taylor DoubledayIn 1849 Dr. Sardius McPheeters decides to escape his debts and his genteel wife's disapproval by heading for California to strike it rich mining gold. Fourteen-year-old Jaimie is allowed a year off from school to accompany his father. But almost at once the hapless doctor must write to his wife that Jaimie is lost and possibly dead. In fact, Jaimie is captured by murderers in the first of his many adventures.
1958A Death In The FamilyJames Agee McDowell, ObolenskyA modern classic about the impact of tragedy on a close-knit family in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the early twentieth century. The story begins a few hours before the death of Jay Follet and ends on the day of his funeral.
1956AndersonvilleMacKinlay Kantor WorldBrooding, vivid chronicle of man's tragic inhumanity to man, based on events taking place in and around Georgia's Andersonville prison during the Civil War. The prison has been built on the land of humane planter Ira Claffey; together with his daughter he witnesses the misery, despair, heartache, and brutality of a wartime prison.
1955A FableWilliam Faulkner RandomIn rhetoric that denounces war, the novel presents a parallel between the false armistice in France in 1918 and the Passion Week. A French corporal and his twelve followers bring action at the front to a standstill as they spread the gospel of the brotherhood of humankind.
1953The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway ScribnerClassic tale of the old Cuban fisherman Santiago and his days-long struggle with a magnificent marlin on open water in a frail skiff.
1952The Caine MutinyHerman Wouk DoubledayDuring World War II, the crew of the Caine mutinies against Captain Queeg, accusing him of incompetence. The novel reaches its climax during the courtmartial when they must prove their charges.
1951The TownConrad Richter KnopfPioneer Sayward Wheeler and her husband move from an old log cabin in the Ohio wilderness into a mansion, and one at a time each of their children moves out.
1950The Way WestA. B. Guthrie SloaneDick Summers has been to Oregon before, but now that his wife has died he decides to return. He will guide a group of men and women from Missouri on the difficult journey along the Oregon Trail.
1949Guard of HonorJames Gould Cozzens HarcourtA novel about the tragic events and unfortunate people of a huge air base in Florida in 1943. Conflicts of authority, personality, and race occur, but loyalty to the service is the prevailing force.
1948Tales of the South PacificJames A. Michener MacmillanNineteen World War II tales that describe the strain and the boredom, the careful planning and heroic action, the color and beauty of the islands, and all that made up life during the critical days of the war in the Pacific.
1947All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren HarcourtThis novel recreates the world of a corrupt southern politician of the 1920s and 1930s. Country boy Willie (Stark) Talos rises to become governor of his state only to be brought down by his personal failings.
1945A Bell for AdanoJohn Hersey KnopfA novel about Americans in Italy at the end of World War II. An Italian-American major tries to rebuild an occupied town on democratic principles and runs into red tape and prejudice.
1944Journey in the DarkMartin Flavin HarperBy turns admirable, pitiable, tough, noble, weak, futile, and brilliantly effective, a lonely man going nowhere in the dark, Sam Braden mirrors thousands like him who have put their familiar stamp upon the American way of life.
1943Dragon's TeethUpton Sinclair VikingThis novel is about Lanny Budd, a socialist, art expert, and "red" son of an American arms manufacturer. It covers 1929-1934, with a special emphasis on the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.
1942In This Our LifeEllen Glasgow HarcourtThis novel is an analytical study of the feeling of kinship as it is manifested in the Timberlake family, decayed aristocrats living in a southern city. 
1940The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck VikingThis tale is about the Joads, who, like many other families during the Great Depression, are driven from their homestead by drought, economic hardship, and the encroachment of large agricultural interests. They leave Oklahoma in search of a better life in California but meet with hardship and injustice.
1939The YearlingMarjorie Kinnan Rawlings ScribnerClassic story about the Baxter family, who make a precarious living on a backwoods farm in northern Florida. Their young son, Jody, tames an orphaned fawn. When the deer begins to eat the family corn, Jody is ordered to shoot him.
1938The Late George ApleyJohn Phillips Marquand LittleA satire on the well-to-do class of proper Bostonians who once considered themselves the self-appointed guardians of America's social and intellectual destiny.
1937Gone With the WindMargaret Mitchell MacmillanA romantic Civil War epic in which Scarlet O' Hara, a forceful and ruthless heroine, and Rhett Butler, a war profiteer, play out their tempestuous love affair against the background of the war-torn South.
1936Honey in the HornHarold L. Davis HarperA story of Oregon in the homesteading period at the beginning of the century features memorable characters, a wide range of country, and a restless, lusty life.
1935Now in NovemberJosephine Winslow Johnson Simon & SchusterThe poetic story of a doomed and struggling farm family pitted against the harsh yet beautiful realities of nature, the demands of work, and the tragedy of a gifted daughter who triggers off a round of catastrophes.
1934Lamb in His BosomCaroline Miller HarperChronicle of hardworking people on a Georgia farm just before the Civil War. Told with a quiet dignity and humor, it relates the story of a courageous young woman from girlhood to old age.
1933The StoreT. S. Stribling DoubledayChronicle of an Alabama family headed by Colonel Miltiades Vaiden, a southern gentleman who fought at Shiloh and was a Klan member during Reconstruction. The story depicts the ending of the old South and the beginning of the new.
1932The Good EarthPearl S. Buck John DayDescribes the rise of Wang Lung, a poor Chinese peasant. The story begins with his wedding day, as he ponders his good fortune that now he will have a woman to take over the chore of lighting the fire to heat the water for his bath. With the help and patience of his new wife, O-lan, Wang Lung becomes a rich landowner.
1931Years of GraceMargaret Ayer Barnes HoughtonShe fought the battle of the generations victoriously because she understood both the years of grace and the age of jazz. Her story reveals the beauty, the drama, and the passion that can lie unsuspected beneath a quiet exterior.
1930Laughing BoyOliver Lafarge HoughtonThis novel is set in the Navajo Southwest of 1915. In telling the haunting story of the young lovers, Laughing Boy and Slim Girl, the author depicts the lives of the Indians from his experiences as an anthropologist.
1929Scarlet Sister MaryJulia Peterkin BobbsA slender, high-spirited black girl of fifteen marries the wildest young slave on the plantation and is deserted within a year. She maintains her cheerfulness as she fills her house with a new child year after year.
1928The Bridge of San Luis ReyThornton Wilder BoniThis novel surveys the lives of five Peruvian travelers, victims of the collapse of a famous Incan bridge in 1714. Franciscan Brother Juniper, witness to the tragedy, weaves a story revealing how these people came together on the bridge at that final moment. Was it fate or was it an act of God?
1927Early AutumnLouis Bromfield StokesThis novel takes a close look at the Pentlands, a fictional rich family in New England, exposing the hypocrisy and ignorance behind their luxurious facade. 
1926ArrowsmithSinclair Lewis HarcourtAn idealistic young doctor is disillusioned by greedy and selfserving colleagues.
1925So BigEdna Ferber DoubledayA farm woman's indomitable spirit and quick response to beauty are unquenched by years of hardship-- all for the sake of her son.
1924The Able McLaughlinsMargaret Wilson HarperAfter serving in the Civil War, Wully McLaughlin returns to his midwest home and his beloved Chirstie McNair, who has become pregnant against her will. Wully accosts the culprit and banishes him from the town. Wully marries Chirstie and assumes paternity, but the child's father is not yet out of their lives.
1923One of OursWilla Cather KnopfAfter a year at the state university, a young man unsuccessfully tries to bring culture to his Nebraska town in this turn-of-the-century novel. Bound to both the soil and a religion he feels is shallow, he finds World War I an escape.
1922Alice AdamsBooth Tarkington DoubledayA socially ambitious girl from a midwestern lower-middle-class family, hopes to find a rich husband. She makes up stories that lead her family to suffer scandals and push her further from her goal.
1921The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton AppletonNewland Archer anticipates a safe, conventional future with his socially impeccable fiancée, May Welland, until the arrival of May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Archer finds himself torn between his attraction to Ellen and his security in a bland, but proper, marriage to May.
1919The Magnificent AmbersonsBooth Tarkington DoubledayIn the nineteenth century Major Amberson made a fortune, and his family became the most prominent in their midwestern town. When industrialization transforms the town into a city, the major's only grandson, arrogant George Amberson Minafer, cannot adjust to the change; his only ambition is to be a yachtsman.
1918His FamilyErnest Poole MacmillanWidower Roger Gale struggles to deal with the way his children and grandchildren respond to the changing society. 
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