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2009 Pulitzer winners

The New York Times posted the 2009 Pulitzer winners today.

April 20, 2009

2009 Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday. Following are the winners in Letters, Drama and Music.

FICTION: “Olive Kitteridge,” by Elizabeth Strout
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.

Finalists “The Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich, a haunting novel that explores racial discord, loss of land and changing fortunes in a corner of North Dakota where Native Americans and whites share a tangled history; and “All Souls” by Christine Schutt, a memorable novel that focuses on the senior class at an exclusive all-girl Manhattan prep school where a beloved student battles a rare cancer, fiercely honest, carefully observed and subtly rendered.

DRAMA: “Ruined,” by Lynn Nottage
A searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.

Finalists “Becky Shaw,” by Gina Gionfriddo, a jarring comedy that examines family and romantic relationships with a lacerating wit while eschewing easy answers and pat resolutions; and “In the Heights,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, a robust musical about struggling Latino immigrants in New York City today that celebrates the virtues of sacrifice, family solidarity and gritty optimism.

HISTORY: “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” by Annette Gordon-Reed
A painstaking exploration of a sprawling multi-generation slave family that casts provocative new light on the relationship between Sally Hemings and her master, Thomas Jefferson.

Finalists “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” by Drew Gilpin Faust, a deeply researched, gracefully written examination of how a divided nation struggled to comprehend the meaning and practical consequences of unprecedented human carnage; and “The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s,” by G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert Weisbrot, an elegantly written account of a brief period in American history that left a profoundly altered national landscape.

BIOGRAPHY: “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” Jon Meacham
An unflinching portrait of a not always admirable democrat but a pivotal president, written with an agile prose that brings the Jackson saga to life.

Finalists “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” by H.W. Brands, a richly textured and highly readable exploration of the inner Roosevelt, presented with analytical acuity and flashes of originality; and “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century,” by Steve Coll, an epic tale extending far beyond Osama Bin Laden and the calamity of 9/11, rooted in meticulous research and written with an urgency, clarity and flair that entertains as easily as it educates.

POETRY: “The Shadow of Sirius,” by W. S. Merwin
A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory.

Finalists “Watching the Spring Festival,” by Frank Bidart, a book of lyric poems that evinces compassion for the human condition as it explores the constraints that limit the possibility of people changing the course of their lives; and “What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems,” by Ruth Stone, a collection of poems that give rich drama to ordinary experience, deepening our sense of what it means to be human.

GENERAL NONFICTION: “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon
A precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.

Finalists “Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age,” by Arthur Herman, an authoritative, deeply researched book that achieves an extraordinary balance in weighing two mighty protagonists against each other; and “The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe,” by William I. Hitchcock, a heavily documented exploration of the overlooked suffering of noncombatants in the victory over Nazi Germany, written with the dash of a novelist and the authority of a scholar.

MUSIC: “Double Sextet,” by Steve Reich
Premiered March 26, 2008 in Richmond, Va.
A major work that displays an ability to channel an initial burst of energy into a large-scale musical event, built with masterful control and consistently intriguing to the ear.

Finalists Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “7 Etudes for Solo Piano,” by Don Byron, premiered on March 15, 2008 at Hallwall’s Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, N.Y., a deft set of studies that display rhythmic inventiveness and irresistible energy, charm and wit; and “Brion,” by Harold Meltzer, premiered on April 23, 2008 at Merkin Hall, New York City, a sonic portrait of a cemetery in northern Italy painted with the touch of a watercolorist and marked by an episodic structure and vivid playfulness that offer a graceful, sensual and contemplative experience.