I really enjoyed watching the HBO TV mini-series adaptation of ‘Olive Kitteridge’ last year and have been keen to read the original book by Elizabeth Strout which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009. It is a novel in the form of 13 linked short stories set in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine centred around the life of the eponymous character during late middle age after retiring from her job as a junior high school maths teacher. Her gregarious husband, Richard, is a pharmacist and her son, Christopher, is a podiatrist. However, there are long-standing tensions in the family with Olive seemingly unable to communicate affection towards those closest to her. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995, ‘The Stone Diaries’ by Carol Shields is a fictional biography of Daisy Goodwill which outlines her life story in ten chapters covering her birth, childhood, marriage, love, motherhood, work, sorrow, ease, illness and death. Born in Canada in 1905, Daisy’s life spans the majority of the twentieth century and is both very ordinary and yet also highly extraordinary. Continue reading
Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, ‘The Orphan Master’s Son’ by Adam Johnson tells the story of Pak Jun Do’s journey from life in a North Korean state orphanage to professional kidnapper to a career in Pyongyang at the heart of Kim Jong-il’s regime. It is an intriguing and sprawling story which explores several aspects of life in one of the most secretive countries in the world. Continue reading
For me, one of the great things about literary awards is discovering the work of authors which might otherwise have passed me by. The Man Booker Prize longlist, for example, recently brought Jhumpa Lahiri to my attention. After reviewing ‘Unaccustomed Earth‘ just a few weeks ago, I got hold of copies of her first collection of short stories ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and her first novel ‘The Namesake’ published in 2003. I am now hoping that Lahiri’s new Booker Prize shortlisted novel ‘The Lowland’ lives up to my increasingly high expectations.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992, ‘A Thousand Acres’ by Jane Smiley is essentially the plot of the Shakespeare play ‘King Lear’ set on a farm in Iowa in the 1980s. Approaching old age, Larry Cook decides to hand over ownership of his 1000 acre farm in Zebulon County to his three daughters, Ginny, Rose and Caroline. Caroline, the youngest, objects and is cut out of the will and before long, many other family secrets are revealed. Given the ‘King Lear’ link, I don’t think I will be giving away a great deal by saying that ‘A Thousand Acres’ ends in tragedy. Continue reading
Whether it’s the Bad Sex award given to the author of the most cringe-worthy sex scene in literature each year or coveted literary prizes such as the Booker and the Pulitzer, book awards attract a lot of attention. They also attract a considerable amount of debate particularly concerning the worthiness of winners. So do we actually need them and what do they really achieve?
Regular followers of this blog will know that I read quite a lot of books which are nominated for the Booker Prize and other similar literary awards. I don’t read these books purely because they are on the shortlist and I certainly wouldn’t rush out and buy the whole lot straight after the announcement. Like most people, I still choose books almost entirely according to personal recommendations and general browsing rather than the number of prestigious awards they have won. However, I am always intrigued by what it is about them that got them recognised and nominated in the first place so I do try and hunt down the ones I think I might enjoy and have heard generally good things about. Continue reading
‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham interweaves the parallel stories of three women from different generations across one day in their lives through their connection with the novel ‘Mrs Dalloway’. The writer Virginia Woolf is in the process of writing ‘Mrs Dalloway’ in the early 1920s as she battles mental illness. Claustrophobic post-war housewife Laura Brown bakes a cake to celebrate her husband’s birthday but all she really wants to do is escape and read ‘Mrs Dalloway’. Clarissa Vaughan, nicknamed Mrs Dalloway, is a modern-day New Yorker planning a party for her friend and former lover, Richard. As well as the obvious connection with Woolf’s novel, the women are all connected in other ways. Notably they are affected by the same themes including madness and sexuality.