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Orphan Master's Son Wins Literature Pulitzer 2013

Adam Johnson - The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Random House) copped the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for literature while Ayad Akhatar’s Disgraced earned the prize for drama. The 2013 Pulitzer for poetry was snagged by Sharon Olds for her work Stag’s Leap, published by Alfred A Knopf. Interestingly, no Pulitzer in literature had been awarded in 2012.

In a press release by Columbia University the Orphan Master’s Son was described as “an exquisitely crafted novel” which delves into “the most intimate spaces of the human heart”. The Orphan Master’s Son is a journey through totalitarian North Korea which explores propaganda, identity and state power.

Disgraced, described by the Pulitzer panel as a “moving play” provides a depiction of a successful corporate lawyer who has to confront himself and the fact that he has hidden his Pakistani Muslim heritage for most of his career.

Old’s Stag’s Leap explores the author’s divorce and examines love, sorrow and the limits of self knowledge. It was described as “unflinching” by the panel.

Each category has a purse of US$10,000, and had a total of three finalists.

Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank was one of the other two shortlisted works in the fiction category. Published by Alfred A Knopf, it is a collection of stories that explore Jewish Identity. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a novel surrounding an aging homesteading couple in Alaska who long for a child, was the third finalist.

In drama Gina Gionfrido’s comedy Rapture, Blister, Burn which explores the psyches of two women who question their choices in life, was one of the finalists along with 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog. 4000 Miles is a drama surrounding a 91 year-old woman and her 21 year-old grandson.

The two poetry finalists were Jack Gilbert anthology Collected Poems (published by Alfred A Knoph) and The Abundance of Nothing by Bruce Weigl (published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern). Gilbert’s Collected Poems covers 50 years of the late poet’s writings. The Abundance of Nothing features poems focused on the Vietnam war.

The 2013 Pulitzer was announced on April 15, 2013.