2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners
From fiction to drama, history to poetry, 2009 was a great year for books! Here are the winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Letters.
2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners
Who Was Joseph Pulitzer?
"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light." — Joseph Pulitzer

The Pulitzer Prize honors the journalistic prowess of the Hungarian-born newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer, who played a pivotal role in creating the world's first journalism school at the University of Missouri and the prestigious Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917—six years after his death—and while many notable writers, dramatists and journalists have received the prize, John F. Kennedy remains the only Pulitzer Prize–winning president. His book, Profiles in Courage, won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. 

Meet this year's Pulitzer Prize for Letters winners
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Fiction: Tinkers
Paul Harding's debut novel, Tinkers, is a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son use their suffering and joy to transcend their imprisoning lives. From his death bed, the main character shares his passion for repairing antique clocks, hallucinations and memories to open up a new way of viewing his life.

Tinkers is the first small press novel to win the Pulitzer Prize since John Kennedy O'Toole's posthumous win in 1981 for A Confederacy of Dunces. Harding, who teaches at the University of Iowa, once studied under his now colleague and fellow Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson, author of the novel Gilead.

Finalists in this category were Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet and In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin.
Next to Normal - music by Tom Kitt, book by Brian Yorkey
Drama: Next to Normal
This year's prize went to a musical that had not been nominated by the jury. Based on the book by Brian Yorkey, the Broadway hit Next to Normal, with music by Tom Kitt, is a powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals. Next to Normal also won three Tony awards this year.

Finalists in this category were The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph and In the Next Room or the vibrator play, by Sarah Ruhl.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
History: Lords of Finance
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed is a compelling account of how four powerful bankers played crucial roles in triggering the Great Depression and ultimately transforming the United States into the world's financial leader.

A Harvard graduate who was born in Kenya, Ahamed dreamed of being a writer while he worked as an investment manager. This is his first mass market book. It was also nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Britain's leading nonfiction book award. Now, Ahamed is working on another book about economic history.

Finalists in this category were Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 by Gordon S. Wood.
The First Tycoon by T.J. Stiles
Biography: The First Tycoon 
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles is a penetrating portrait of a complex, self-made titan who revolutionized transportation, amassed vast wealth and shaped the economic world in ways still felt today. Stiles describes the man as "a paradox—both a creator and a destroyer."

Stiles also wrote Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War and has written for the New York Times Book Review and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in San Francisco.

Finalists in this category were Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey and Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr.
Versed by Rae Armantrout
Poetry: Versed
Versed by Rae Armantrout is described by the Pulitzer Prize jury as, "striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading."

Versed was also cited this year by the National Book Critics Circle Prize. Armantrout has written 10 books of poetry, including Next Life, which was selected by The New York Times as a notable book of 2007. Armantrout has taught at the University of California at San Diego for almost 20 years.

Finalists in this category were Tryst by Angie Estes and Inseminating the Elephant by Lucia Perillo.
The Dead Hand by David E. Hoffman
Nonfiction: The Dead Hand
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman is a well-documented narrative that examines the terrifying doomsday competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and how weapons of mass destruction still imperil humankind.

Hoffman, a contributing editor at The Washington Post, began thinking about the events detailed in the book while serving as the Post's Moscow bureau chief from 1995 to 2001.

Finalists in this category were How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy and The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.
Woman with stack of books
Past Pulitzer Prize Winners
Here are some other great Pulitzer Prize winners that are not to be missed!

Cormac McCarthy's 2007 novel The Road

Paul Muldoon, 2003 winner for poetry

Jeffrey Eugenide's 2002 novel Middlesex

Seamus Heaney, 1995 winner for poetry

Anna Quindlen, 1992 winner for commentary

Toni Morrison's 1987 novel Beloved

Larry McMurtry's 1985 novel Lonesome Dove

John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath

Pearl S. Buck's 1931 novel The Good Earth