American author Colson Whitehead became only the fourth writer to have won two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction twice on May 4. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Pulitzer Prizes were announced remotely by Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy honouring African-American author for his book The Nickel Boys after he was given the award in the same category in 2017 for Underground Railroad. Before the 50-year-old New Yorker, only Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner and John Updike had acquired Pulitzer for fiction twice.
The Pulitzer Prizes are one of the greatest honours for journalists and writers based in the United States. Whitehead created history with the book that was inspired by the true events that took place at Dozier School for Boys in Florida, where kids found guilty of committing minor offences were subjected to violent abuse. According to Pulitzer committee, Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys was the winner because of its “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".
Michael R Jackson’s A Strange Loop won in the drama category and Pulitzer committee lauded the book as “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”. W Caleb McDaniel claimed the award in history category with Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America. It is a “masterfully researched meditation on reparations based on the remarkable story of a 19th-century woman” who survived kidnapping and re-enslavement.
Jericho Brown won in the poetry category with the “collection of masterful lyrics” in The Tradition. According to the prize committee, Brown’s book combines “delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence”. Meanwhile, Ida B Wells received Pulitzer in Special Awards and Citation s category “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans”.