On March 9, the prestigious awards announced the 106th class of Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners

Since it was established in 1917 in honour of Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize has become one of the most respected and discerning organisations in selecting the best achievements in newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature, and musical composition within the United States and around the world. 

Winners are selected during a year-long process by an esteemed board of judges, administered by Columbia University and a trusted industry figure. This year, the organisation selected Marjorie Miller, vice president and global enterprise editor at The Associated Press, as its administrator to lead the process up to the virtual award ceremony last night.

Its list of winners and finalists comprises works by talented individuals from many different walks and stages of life, standing out in the history of the prizes as it announces the first Native American composer to win a Pulitzer, the first Asian-American woman playwright to be a finalist in the Drama category, and the first Hmong-American finalist in the history of the arts and letters prizes.

See also: All the Books Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022

Fiction: The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen

The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family is based on world renown critic and Yale professor Harold Bloom's experience as a chaperone to the father of Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Cornell University in the 1960s. Dedicating the book to Bloom, Joshua Cohen concocts a hilarious and fantastical account of the visit, starring Jewish historian Ruben Blum, with an energetic narrative that delves into history, politics and identity.

Finalists

  • Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman
  • Palmares by Gayl Jones 

See also: All the Books Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022

Drama: Fat Ham by James Ijames

Set at a cookout in the South with a black and queer protagonist, playwright James Ijames' Fat Ham tackles the patriarchal family dynamic in a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hilarious and heartwarming, Wilma Theatre's production of the play, which released digitally in 2021, garnered praise and positive reviews, especially for its refreshing subversion of the tragedy at the heart of its source material with much joy and celebration. 

Finalists

  • Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord by Kristina Wong
  • Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury

See also: Actress Sukania Venugopal on Performing in a Singaporean Play About Climate Change

Biography: Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred Rembert

In the 76 years before his passing late last year, Winfred Rembert has endured political violence, embraced the civil rights movement, survived a lynching, spent seven years in prison on a chain gang, and become a prolific leatherwork artist to exhibit at museums and galleries across the country and honoured by Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative. His memoir, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist's Memoir of the Jim Crow South—as told to Tufts philosopher Erin I. Kelly—is an extension of his art, which often feature vivid, confrontational and complex scenes from the cotton fields of his childhood to segregated night clubs and churches.  

Board member Kevin Merida commented: "His life’s story, and the creative, compelling way it unfolded, will live with me forever, and the Pulitzer for this work will serve as a reminder of the magnificence and artistic genius that can emanate from racism and incarceration.”

Finalists

  • Pessoa: A Biography by Richard Zenith
  • The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura

See also: Editor's Picks: World Book Day Edition

Poetry: frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss

Seuss was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for Four-Legged Girl, her poetry collection featuring the deliciously unsettling eponymous poem inspired by American sideshow performer Myrtle Corbin. This year, she wins the prestigious award with yet another brilliant collection, frank: sonnets. Her most personal collection to date, her poems are immersive in its frank honesty and stark language as she touches on Seuss’s working-class childhood in rural Michigan and her journey in New York City at the height of historical moments, from punk rock to AIDS and addiction. 

Finalists

  • Yellow Rain by Mai Der Vang
  • Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten by Will Alexander

See also: "Poetry Doesn't Have to Be Printed on Paper," Says Instapoet Adam Tie of The Novel Encounter

Nonfiction: Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott

In 2012, 11-year-old Dasani Coates was living in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn, New York. Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City follows this child and her disadvantaged family's story over eight years. A detailed, moving reporting revealing the failures of the child protection and public welfare system, it was praised by board member Viet Thanh Nguyen for "deploying tremendous narrative power to deliver the intimate human news that should be at the heart of all our debates around incarceration, poverty, and injustice."

Finalists

  • Home, Land, Security: Deradicalization and the Journey Back from Extremism by Carla Power 
  • The Family Roe: An American Story by Joshua Prager

See also: Tan Sri Nazir Razak's Memoir Gives A Glimpse of the Man Behind the Name

History

Tied for the prestigious prize are Ada Ferrer's Cuba: An American History and Nicole Eustace's Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America.

The former is a comprehensive account of nearly five centuries of Cuban history, from early years of colonisation and the Cold War to the politics of the last decade, including the rule of Fidel and Raúl Castro, Barack Obama's opening to the island, and Donald Trump’s reversal of that policy. Based on 30 years of research in Cuba, Spain, and the United States—as well as the author’s own extensive travel to the island over the same period, it is a captivating read that prioritises the people and culture of the nation as much as its politics and history. 

See also: This International Booker Prize-Winning Novel Belongs on Your Reading List

Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America is an insight into the long and troubled history of Native Americans, with a focus on the far-reaching implications of the murder of an indigenous hunter in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, the night before a major treaty conference between Iroquois leaders and European colonists in 1722. A harrowing but necessary exploration of early America, it sheds light on how the modern justice system and its approach to crime and punishment came to be. 

Finalist

  • Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction by Kate Masur 

See also: Catherine Menon on Exploring Malaysian History in Her First Novel

Music: Voiceless Mass by Raven Chacon

“Chacon goes deep in his musical thinking," comments board member David Remnick. "When he sits down to compose, he calls on diverse traditions and modes of musical expression. The result, his ensemble composition, Voiceless Mass, is utterly captivating.”

The first Native American to win the Pulitzer music prize, the composer, performer and multimedia installation artist from the Navajo Nation in Arizona has become known for his creativity and inventiveness in reinterpreting traditional ensembles, arrangements and even, instruments—a stunning combination most prominently displayed in his winning piece, Voiceless Mass

Finalists

  • Seven Pillars by Andy Akiho
  • with eyes the color of time by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

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