April 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

When the Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 17, the Civil War novel March won the fiction prize. No, not The March, by E.L. Doctorow, although that much-lauded book was nominated and favored to win. The surprise winner was just plain March, by Geraldine Brooks, 50, who imagined the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. ”It’s hilarious,” says Brooks, ”because when my friend called me with the news, I thought, ‘Oh, he must mean Doctorow!”’ (The biography award went to the J. Robert Oppenheimer bio American Prometheus.) Meanwhile, the Pulitzer board declined to give an award for drama, which was odd, since three were nominated. ”It’s a shame,” says Lynne Meadow of the Manhattan Theatre Club, which produced past winners Proof and Doubt. ”Maybe they’ll give two [prizes] next year!”

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