From Oprah’s Book Club Pick to Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author: Colson Whitehead Wins 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

by |April 11, 2017

It was in August 2016 that Oprah gushed about her latest Book Club Pick. “Oh, have I found a great book!” she exclaimed to the world. The book she was talking about? Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.

Oprah went on to say:

“This book has kept me up at night, had my heart in my throat, had me almost afraid to turn the next page… Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you’re going to want to talk about this with somebody once you read that last heart-stopping page.”

Since being read by thousands of Oprah Book Club fans, he’s also been a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and Carnegie Medal, has become a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and been awarded the #1 Time Magazine Book of the Year. Now, he has just won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious awards an author can be awarded.

The Pulitzer Prizes, named for the pioneering newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, were established by Columbia University in 1917. Not only do they award fiction writers, there are 14 journalism categories, primarily recognizing the work of print newspapers, but also recognizing magazines and digital news organizations. There are five book categories, one drama category and one music composition category.

Discover all 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners here | Explore all book winners below and here.


2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent, wrenching, thrilling tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, and they plot their escape. Matters do not go as planned – Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her – but they manage to find a station and head north.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is not a metaphor – a secret network of tracks and tunnels has been built beneath the Southern soil… Learn more.


2017 Pulitzer Prize for History Winner


Blood in the Water
by Heather Ann Thompson

On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment.

Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed. On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men – hostages as well as prisoners – and severely wounded more than one hundred others.

In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners… Learn more.


2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry Winner


Olio
by Tyehimba Jess

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess’s much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers, musicians and artists directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.

“Jess’s work displays a deep sense of cool black consciousness, especially in regard to musicality. He works with an expressive tradition that blends sensibilities of field holler, spiritual encodings, gospel moan and groan, work song cadence, blue notes, and jook joint jazz.” – Howard Ramsby II, Sou’wester… Learn more.

 


2017 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction Winner


Olio
by Tyehimba Jess

Evicted is astonishing-a masterpiece of writing and research that fills a tremendous gap in our understanding of poverty.

Taking us into some of America’s poorest neighborhoods, Desmond illustrates how eviction leads to a cascade of events, often triggered by something as simple as a child throwing a snowball at a car, that can trap families in a cycle of poverty for years.

“Beautiful, harrowing, and deeply human, Evicted is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice in this country. I loved it” – Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksLearn more.

 

 


2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography Winner


Olio
by Tyehimba Jess

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess’s much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers, musicians and artists directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.

“Jess’s work displays a deep sense of cool black consciousness, especially in regard to musicality. He works with an expressive tradition that blends sensibilities of field holler, spiritual encodings, gospel moan and groan, work song cadence, blue notes, and jook joint jazz.” – Howard Ramsby II, Sou’wester… Learn more.

 

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.

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