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The Library Lowdown

The Elm Grove Public Library, established and supported by the citizens of Elm Grove, provides access to library facilities, resources, and services necessary to meet the informational, educational, and leisure needs of all the people in the community. It assembles, preserves, and administers an organized collection of print and non-print materials to fill those needs. It places special emphasis on stimulating interest and life-long appreciation for reading and learning among children and adults alike

Discover distinguished American writing with these Pulitzer Prize winning fiction books available at the Elm Grove Library.

On April 14, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the 2014 winners of the most revered prize in American writing. In the fiction category, Donna Tartt’s sweeping masterpiece The Goldfinch, about a 13 year old boy’s journey from orphan to redemption, was awarded the top prize. Tartt joins an illustrious group of previous winners including luminaries such as Hemingway and Faulkner, whose prize-winning works live in infamy.

The Pulitzer Prize for fiction has been awarded nearly every year since 1948. From 1918 to 1947, the prize category was referred to as novels, until being changed to fiction. There have been several years, most notably in 2012, when no prize was awarded in fiction. The winner of the yearly honor is determined by a jury consisting of 5 members, which is selected each year by the Pulitzer Prize Board and administered by Columbia University. The winner receives a certificate and a cash award of $10,000.

With summer on the horizon, beach read season is set to kick into full gear. Though the very definition of what constitutes a “beach read” can be debated, what cannot be is that people appreciate a good book on a warm summer day that sucks them in and refuses let go. While the Elm Grove Library has plenty of traditional beach reads (fast-paced plotting, colorful characters, and exotic locales) available for check-out, we also have a large selection of past Pulitzer Prize winning fiction titles as well. So if you find yourself in the mood this spring (and summer) for something that may be a bit challenging, yet also very rewarding, give one of these prize-winners a try:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (2008 winner)

The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (2009 winner)

Olive Kitteridge

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Empire Falls, by Richard Russo (2002 winner)

Empire Falls

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

March, by Geraldine Brooks (2006 winner)

March : a novel

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’ place as a renowned author of historical fiction.

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway (1953 winner)

The old man and the sea

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry (1986 winner)

Lonesome dove : a novel

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon (2001 winner)

The amazing adventures of Kavalier & Clay : a novel

A “towering, swash-buckling thrill of a book” (Newsweek), hailed as Chabon’s “magnum opus” (The New York Review of Books), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a triumph of originality, imagination, and storytelling, an exuberant, irresistible novel that begins in New York City in 1939. A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink. Spanning continents and eras, this superb book by one of America’s finest writers remains one of the defining novels of our modern American age.

The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudora Welty (1973 winner)

This story of a young woman's confrontation with death and her past is a poetic study of human relations.

This is just a small selection of the Pulitzer Prize winning fiction books available at the Elm Grove Library. Stop in and check one out today! If you have any questions, call the library at (262) 782-6717.

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