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The 2016 Pulitzer Prizes Are In. Here’s Your Reading List

The Pulitzer Prize announcement is a great guide to what we should have read so far this past year but haven’t.


Every year, the Columbia School of Journalism administers the Pulitzer Prizes — awards in 24 categories of literature, journalism and music. Winning gets you $10,000 and a seat at a damn accomplished table: Robert Frost won four times for Poetry, Samuel Barber twice for Music, William Faulkner twice for Fiction, Barbara Tuchman twice for History. For the rest of us, it’s a great guide to what we should have read so far this past year but haven’t. Below are the awards.

Letters, Drama and Music

Fiction, Biography, Poetry and More

Fiction: The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
“A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’ — and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.” Buy Now

Drama: Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda
“A landmark American musical about the gifted and self-destructive founding father whose story becomes both contemporary and irresistible.” Buy Now

History: Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, T.J. Stiles
“A rich and surprising new telling of the journey of the iconic American soldier whose death turns out not to have been the main point of his life.” Buy Now

Biography/Autobiography: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan
“A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.” Buy Now

Poetry: Ozone Journal, Peter Balakian
“Poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that undergird a global age of danger and uncertainty.” Buy Now

General Nonfiction: Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, Joby Warrick
“A deeply reported book of remarkable clarity showing how the flawed rationale for the Iraq War led to the explosive growth of the Islamic State.” Buy Now

Music: In for a Penny in for a Pound, Henry Threadgill
“Recording released on May 26, 2015 by Zooid, a highly original work in which notated music and improvisation mesh in a sonic tapestry that seems the very expression of modern American life.” Buy Now


Breaking News Reporting and Photography, Feature Writing, Editorial Cartooning and More

Migrants arrive by a Turkish boat near the village of Skala, on the Greek island of Lesbos. The Turkish boat owner delivered some 150 people to the Greek coast and tried to escape back to Turkey; he was arrested in Turkish waters (Sergey Ponomarev, The New York Times - November 16, 2015)

Public Service: “Are Slaves Catching the Fish You Buy?” Associated Press
Reporting that set out to investigate where American supermarkets and restaurants sourced their seafood uncovered labor abuses and freed 2,000 slaves. Read Now

Breaking News Reporting: Coverage of the San Bernardino Terrorist Attacks, Los Angeles Times
After two terrorists killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year, the Los Angeles Times reported on the story from the scene, during the aftermath and well into its repercussions, nationally and internationally. Read Now

Investigative Reporting: “Insane. Invisible. In Danger.” Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Two news organizations collaborated to report on violence and neglect in Florida state mental hospitals. Read Now

Explanatory Reporting: “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project
The story of one survivor of a serial rapist reveals “law enforcement’s enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims.” Read Now

Local Reporting: “Failure Factories” Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner of Tampa Bay Times
Exposing a local school board’s culpability in turning some county schools into failure factories, with tragic consequences for the community. Read Now

National Reporting: Creating and Using a National Database on Police Shootings, The Washington Post staff
A multitude of stories using data and graphics as well as reporting to examine the who, what, when, where and why of police shootings in America. Read Now

International Reporting: “Honor Killings and Mob Justice Against Women in Afghanistan” Alissa J. Rubin of The New York Times
Moving accounts of the deadly dangers women face every day in Afghanistan. Read Now

Feature Writing: “The Really Big One” Kathryn Schulz of The New Yorker
For “an elegant scientific narrative of the rupturing of the Cascadia fault line.” Read Now

Commentary: The Legacy of Busing in Boston, Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe
A number of articles that examine the legacy of racial busing in Boston, from an effect on the police force to Donald Trump’s relationship with the city. Read Now

Criticism: Television Writing, Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker
“For television reviews written with an affection that never blunts the shrewdness of her analysis or the easy authority of her writing.” Read Now

Editorial Writing: A Deadly Assault on an Inmate by Charlotte Correctional Institution Officers, John Hackworth of Sun Newspapers, Charlotte Harbor, FL
“Fierce, indignant editorials” that reported to the public that 10 correctional officers who had killed an inmate during an assault were still on payroll. Read Now

Editorial Cartooning: Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee
“For cartoons that convey wry, rueful perspectives through sophisticated style that combines bold line work with subtle colors and textures.” Read Now

Breaking News Photography: Photographs of the Refugee Crisis, Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter of The New York Times
Their photos captured the scale and deadly drama of the European migrant crisis. Read Now

Breaking News Photography: Photographs of the Refugee Crisis, Photography Staff of Thomson Reuters
For more powerful photos on the same topic of the European migrant crisis. Read Now

Feature Photography: “The Life and Times of Strider Wolf” Jessica Rinaldi of The Boston Globe
A portrait of a young boy struggling find his way after abuse by those he loved. Read Now

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