May is the month the Pulitzer Prize was established! Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-born journalist, provided money in his will (of 1904) for the establishment of the contest for excellence in journalism. The Pulitzer Prize has evolved from Joseph Pulitzer's initial idea. The inception of the prizes began in 1917, and of course more categories exist than just journalism. The 2010 winner for fiction is the first book highlighted below, and the other two are finalists in fiction. These as well as many past award winners are available at your library!
n Tinkers, by Paul Harding. An old man lies dying. As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
n Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories, by Lydia Millet. Lions, Komodo dragons, dogs, monkeys, and pheasants -- all have shared spotlights and tabloid headlines with celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Thomas Edison, and David Hasselhoff. Millet hilariously tweaks these unholy communions to run a stake through the heart of our fascination with famous people and pop culture. While in so much fiction animals exist as symbols of good and evil or as author stand-ins, they represent nothing but themselves in Millet's ruthlessly lucid prose. Implacable in their actions, the animals in Millet's spiraling fictional riffs and flounces show up their humans as bloated with foolishness yet curiously vulnerable, as in a tour-de-force Kabbalah-infused interior monologue by Madonna after she shoots a pheasant on her Scottish estate. Millet treads newly imaginative territory with these charismatic tales.
n In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Passing from the mannered drawing rooms of Pakistan's cities to the harsh mud villages beyond, Daniyal Mueenuddin's linked stories describe the interwoven lives of an aging feudal landowner, his servants and managers, and his extended family, industrialists who have lost touch with the land. In the spirit of Joyce's Dubliners and Turgenev's A Sportsman's Sketches, these stories comprehensively illuminate a world, describing members of parliament and farm workers, Islamabad society girls and desperate servant women. Together the stories in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders make up a vivid portrait of feudal Pakistan, describing the advantages and constraints of social station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change. Refined, sensuous, by turn humorous, elegiac, and tragic; Mueenuddin evokes the complexities of the Pakistani feudal order as it is undermined and transformed.
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