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Book Reviews

And The Winners of The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes Are…

And The Winners of The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes Are…

“Things are never as bad as they seem.”1961 Fiction winner Harper Lee.

The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes was announced May 4 at 3 PM ET via live stream on the prize’s official website. Originally scheduled for April 20, the annual Prizes in Journalism, Books, Drama, and Music have been pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Pulitzer board includes many high-level journalists who are on the frontlines of informing the public on the quickly evolving coronavirus pandemic. As they focus on this critical mission, this postponement will provide additional time to thoroughly evaluate the 2020 Pulitzer finalists,” administrator Dana Canedy said in an online statement.

The 104th winners are:

Public Service

Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica

For a riveting series that revealed a third of Alaska’s villages had no police protection, took authorities to task for decades of neglect, and spurred an influx of money and legislative changes.The New York TimesThe Washington PostBreaking News Reporting

Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

For its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms. (Moved by the jury from Local Reporting, where it was originally entered.)Staff of the Los Angeles TimesStaff of The Washington PostInvestigative Reporting

Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times

For an exposé of New York City’s taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.Jay Hancock and Elizabeth Lucas of Kaiser Health NewsStaff of The Wall Street JournalExplanatory Reporting

Staff of The Washington Post

For a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.Rosanna Xia, Swetha Kannan and Terry Castleman of the Los Angeles TimesStaff of Reveal from The Center for Investigative ReportingLocal Reporting

Staff of The Baltimore Sun

For illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city’s mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.Peter Smith, Stephanie Strasburg and Shelly Bradbury of the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteStaff of The Boston GlobeNational Reporting

Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times

For groundbreaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.

T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica

For their investigation into America’s 7th Fleet after a series of deadly naval accidents in the Pacific.Staff of The Wall Street JournalInternational Reporting

Staff of The New York Times

For a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.Staff of ReutersStaff of The New York TimesFeature Writing

Ben Taub of The New Yorker

For a devastating account of a man who was kidnapped, tortured and deprived of his liberty for more than a decade at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, blending on-the-ground reporting and lyrical prose to offer a nuanced perspective on America’s wider war on terror. (Moved into contention by the Board.)Chloé Cooper Jones, freelance reporter, The VergeEllen Barry of The New York TimesNestor Ramos of The Boston GlobeCommentary

Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times

For a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.Sally Jenkins of The Washington PostSteve Lopez of the Los Angeles TimesCriticism

Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times

For work demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.Justin Davidson of New York magazineSoraya Nadia McDonald of The UndefeatedEditorial Writing

Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald Press

For editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail—reflecting a rising trend across the state—and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.Jill Burcum of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.Melinda Henneberger of The Kansas City StarEditorial Cartooning

Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker

For work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House with deceptively sweet watercolor style and seemingly gentle caricatures. (Moved into contention by the Board.)Kevin Kallaugher, freelancerLalo Alcaraz, freelancerMatt Bors of The NibBreaking News Photography

Photography Staff of Reuters

For wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region’s autonomy by the Chinese government.Dieu Nalio Chery and Rebecca Blackwell of Associated PressTom Fox of The Dallas Morning NewsFeature Photography

Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of Associated Press

For striking images of life in the contested territory of Kashmir as India revoked its independence, executed through a communications blackout. Erin Clark of The Boston GlobeMary F. Calvert, freelance photographerAudio Reporting

Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News

For “The Out Crowd,” revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.Andrew Beck Grace, Chip Brantley, Graham Smith, Nicole Beemsterboer and Robert Little of NPRNigel Poor, Earlonne Woods and Rahsaan Thomas

BOOKS, DRAMA & MUSIC

Fiction

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett (Harper)The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)Drama

A Strange Loop, by Michael R. Jackson

A metafictional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities.Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will ArberySoft Power, by David Henry Hwang and Jeanine TesoriHistory

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)

A masterfully researched meditation on reparations based on the remarkable story of a 19th century woman who survived kidnapping and re-enslavement to sue her captor.Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (University of North Carolina Press)The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)Biography

Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)

An authoritatively constructed work told with pathos and grace, that captures the writer’s genius and humanity alongside her addictions, sexual ambiguities and volatile enthusiasms.Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, by George Packer (Alfred A. Knopf)Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, And Me, by the late Deirdre Bair (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)Poetry

The Tradition, by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

A collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.Dunce, by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books)Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems, by Dorianne Laux (W.W. Norton)General Nonfiction

The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

A sweeping and beautifully written book that probes the American myth of boundless expansion and provides a compelling context for thinking about the current political moment. (Moved by the Board from the History category.)

The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

An elegant and unforgettable narrative about the brutality of illness and the capitalism of cancer care in America.Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson (Bloomsbury)Solitary, by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George (Grove Atlantic)Music

The Central Park Five, by Anthony Davis

Premiered on June 15, 2019 at the Long Beach Opera, a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful. Libretto by Richard Wesley.and all the days were purple, by Alex WeiserSky: Concerto for Violin, by Michael Torke

SPECIAL CITATIONS

Special Awards and Citations

Ida B. Wells

For her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.

Book Reviews

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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