By David Canfield
April 15, 2019 at 03:51 PM EDT
W. W. Norton + Company; David Redfern/Redferns; Oxford University Press

Richard Powers’ epic nature novel The Overstory has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The sweeping and evocative novel, which unfolds in interlocking fables tracing the relationship between humanity and the natural world, has been one of 2018’s most lauded. It was also shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and the (still pending) PEN/Faulkner Award, and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal: three of the most prestigious awards recognizing English-language fiction. The prolific Powers won the 2006 National Book Award for his ninth and most acclaimed novel, The Echo Maker, which was a Pulitzer finalist.

Named finalists for this year’s Pulitzer Prize were two more literary awards season mainstays: Rebecca Makkai’s ’80s queer novel The Great Believers, and Tommy Orange’s Oakland-set debut There There. The former won the equivalent Los Angeles Times book prize just this weekend, and most prestigiously, was awarded the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal. Both The Great Believers and There There ranked among EW’s Top 10 Books of 2018.

Elsewhere among this year’s Pulitzer winners in books, Jeffrey C. Stewart’s biography of Alain Locke, The New Negro, won the prize for Biography, following up on its National Book Award win, and David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass volume was named the prize-winner for History. On the drama side, Jackie Sibblies Drury pulled off an upset with a victory for her Off Broadway play Fairview, which the Pulitzer Committee celebrated as “a hard-hitting drama that examines race in a highly conceptual, layered structure, ultimately bringing audiences into the actors’ community to face deep-seated prejudices.” (A notable finalist in Drama was Heidi Schreck for her breakout play What the Constitution Means to Me, currently on Broadway.)

Finally, Aretha Franklin received a posthumous special citation, “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”

Check out the full list of winners below.


Public service: Staff of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Breaking news reporting: Staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Investigative reporting: Matt Hamilton, Harriet Ryan and Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times

Explanatory reporting: David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner of the New York Times

Local reporting: Staff of the Advocate

National reporting: Staff of the Wall Street Journal

International reporting: Maggie Michael, Maad al-Zikry and Nariman El-Mofty of the Associated Press, and the staff of Reuters

Feature writing: Hannah Dreier of ProPublica

Commentary: Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Criticism: Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post

Editorial writing: Brent Staples of the New York Times

Editorial cartooning: Darrin Bell, a freelancer cartoonist

Breaking news photography: Photography staff of Reuters

Feature photography: Lorenzo Tugnoli of The Washington Post

Special citation: Staff of the Capital Gazette


Fiction: The Overstory by Richard Powers

Nonfiction: Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold

Drama: Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury

History: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

Autobiography or Biography: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

Poetry: Be With by Forrest Gander

Drama: Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury

Music: p r i s m by Ellen Reid

Special citation: Aretha Franklin

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