This article is part of a blog series highlighting each book award to learn more about what each of them means. Check out more about this blog series and other posts included here.
The Pulitzer Prize, what is it? There are multiple categories and mediums that one can win a Pulitzer Prize, but in writing specifically, there are prizes for writing pieces of biography, drama, fiction, non-fiction, history, memoir or autobiography, and poetry.
The Pulitzer Prize started because Joseph Pulitzer, a newspaper publisher, left money to Columbia University in his will to accomplish two goals, create a journalism school, and establish the Pulitzer Prize. In each category, the award focuses on American writers and books about America. For example, a book that wins in the history category for a Pulitzer Prize must be a historically accurate book of the history of the United States. The biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs that win Pulitzer Prizes must be written by American authors.
So when you pick up a book off the bookshelf and see a Pulitzer Prize medal on the front, what does that mean?
It means that you are reading a book by an American writer that is exceptional work, above all of the other applicants who sent in their work.
A few 2023 Pulitzer Prize awards:
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Trust by Hernan Diaz
Stay True by Hua Hsu