Lots of surprises in the 2006 Pulitzer Prizes. Geraldine Brooks won the prize in fiction for her novel, March, about the father of the girls portrayed in Little Women. The book had been acclaimed, but was not as popular as Brook’s fabulous book, The Year of Wonders. Brooks is a nimble writer who used to report for the Wall Street Journal. She has also written a number of books of non-fiction, including Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. She is Australian and is married to another marvelous writer, Tony Horowitz.
I don’t know Geraldine, but she is a friend of many of my friends. She provided a blurb for Neil MacFarquhar’s new novel, the Sand Café, which came out last week.
The Pulitzer judges awarded two prizes in Public Service for Hurricane Katrina coverage. They went to the Biloxi, Mississippi Sun-Herald and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The staff of the Times-Picayune was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting. The staff of the Dallas Morning News won a breaking news photography prize for documenting the effects of Katrina.
Another one I am particularly happy about is the prize for National Reporting. It went to New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their stories on domestic eavesdropping. (When I was fresh out of journalism school, I moved to Ithaca, New York, where Lichtblau was a Cornell student. He was covering the region for the Syracuse Newspapers and when he left I took over his job. He went to the Los Angeles Times and then the New York Times.)
The Washington Post won four Pulitzers, one more than the Times, including one for commentary for Robin Givhan. She writes about fashion, but in a way no one else does.
Post reporters Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith won an investigative reporting prize for their stories on lobbyist Jack Abramoff. David Finkel won the prize in Explanatory Journalism for his stories on how the U.S. tried to bring democracy to Yemen. Dana Priest won in the beat reporting category for her stories on CIA's use of secret prisons in Eastern Europe to interrogate terror suspects
The New York Times won a total of three Pulitzers, including one in commentary for Nicholas D. Kristof for his reporting on the genocide in Darfur.
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin won the biography prize for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking was a finalist in this category.