Since 1917, the Pulitzer Prize has been the most prestigious and coveted award in American letters. A Monday announcement by Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism revealed that The Overstory by Richard Powers won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Powers will receive $15,000 as part of the prize, which is awarded each year to "distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life."
Richard Powers’ The Overstory tells the story of a small circle of individuals whose lives have been changed — and are now connected to — the trees they have sworn to protect from logging and other existential threats. It is a book of the climate change era, and it’s win couldn’t come at a more pivotal moment. In her announcement on Monday, Canedy called The Overstory "An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story, whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them."
The book has received previous awards and nominations, which include being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the ALA Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Now, The Overstory has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, a first for author Powers, whose National Book Award-winning novel, The Echo Maker, was a 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction finalist.
‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers
The Overstory beat out prominent contenders to win this year’s award. Third-party Pulitzer website PPrize had Powers’ novel at the No. 9 spot on its list of predicted 2019 winners, behind The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (No. 1), There There by Tommy Orange (No. 2), and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (No. 5).
The other 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning books in the Arts and Letters categories are:
- Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury, in Drama
- Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight, in History
- The New Negro by Jeffrey C. Stewart, in Biography
- Be With by Forrest Gander, in Poetry
- Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold, in Nonfiction
In taking home the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory joins an elite class of award-winning, American novels. Recent winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction include Andrew Sean Greer’s Less in 2018, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad in 2017, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer in 2016, and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See in 2015. Powers’ win marks the fifth year in a row since a novel by a woman took home the coveted prize.
You can pick up the latest Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Richard Powers’ The Overstory, today from your favorite bookseller.
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