November 15th, 2013 / 2:55 pm

Does anyone know if the Pulitzer Prize is awarded to the author or to the book?

For example, in 1952, did Marianne Moore win the Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems or did Marianne Moore’s Collected Poems win the Pulitzer Prize?

Is either acceptable?


  1. Bobby Dixon

      W/ the Nobel, it technically goes to the book, but it honors the writer’s career up to that point as well.

      Faulkner & Updike won Pulitzers for their later, slighter books, which I believe was viewed in hindsight as giving them prizes essentially for still pumping out books.

      So maybe both?

  2. davidpeak

      Seems like you hear “The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of…” more than you hear “The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book…” but I could just be imagining that.

  3. deadgod

      The Nobel rubric is phrased (in Nobel’s will — I guess translated into English from Swedish): “one part [of the five equal “parts” of the total prize money] to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction” .

      As I read it, that means the answer to Andrew’s question would be ‘to the person for the work’ — and I can’t tell if “work” here means ‘one discrete item’ or ‘life’s work’, but the citations sure seem to favor the latter interpretation generally.

      For example, for Sinclair Lewis, the prize was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description [?] and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters”.

      For Faulkner, of whom two or three novels could’ve been named, “for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”.

      One Hemingway “work” is mentioned in his citation, “for his mastery of the art, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and The Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style”, but for García Márquez, of whom one book stands WAY out among the others–at least in terms of fame and influence–, the acclaim is shared among “his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”.

      And in the case of poets who – yikes – win this prize, there are many who don’t have a single poem with such, eh, ‘importance’, so is it one collection that’s honored? Even in the case of a Collected–which sounds like cheating–, that sounds unlikely — for example, in the case of Szymborska. And dramatists? Or historians (Churchill, and I can name one living historian who’d make a great choice, although NO FUCKING WAY)?

      It seems, although sometimes one “work” could be named as a money shot, that it’s the life’s “work” that the awarders are mostly interested in calling attention to through their prize.

  4. deadgod

      The ‘single piece as pretext for lifetime achievement’ angle is good for (your example) A Fable; the first thing I think of along that line is The Departed–a fun movie, but okay.

  5. Logan Fry

      Pulitzer is for the book. Nobel is for the author.