Congratulations to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Meacham told BookPage in an interview last fall that he saw many parallels between Jackson's age and our own. "It's somewhat depressing, actually, to be a journalist who writes history because you realize that everything has happened before," he said. Tennessee bragging rights: Meacham is a native of Chattanooga, and he wrote much of American Lion in his summer house in Sewanee, Tennessee (near his alma mater, the University of the South).
Other Pulitzer winners include Annette Gordon-Reed, who took the History prize for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (BookPage review here); Douglas A. Blackmon, who won in General Nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; and W.S. Merwin, whose collection The Shadow of Sirius won the Poetry prize.
The somewhat surprising winner in Fiction (at least to us! see prognostication post below) is Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kitteridge. The Pulitzer citation describes the book as "a collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating." A 2006 BookPage interview notes Strout's fascination with Maine and her keenly observed portraits of its people. Fiction finalists are The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (BookPage review) and All Souls by Christine Schutt (BookPage review). Book clubs, take note: Olive Kitteridge is already out in paperback, while The Plague of Doves comes out in paperback in May, and All Souls in June.