Pulitzer Prize Authors Featured in SDHC Lending Library

Add Winners of Iconic Award to Your List of Book Club Suggestions

Editor's Note: This post is a part of an ongoing series highlighting selections from the South Dakota Humanities Council Lending Library, which features books in a variety of genres for book clubs and other groups. The lending library selections mentioned in these posts can be borrowed for a $50 application fee as a "Book Club to Go." Click here for more information.

SDHC's Book Club to Go Lending Library is full of good books to read, including selections that won or were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

As the Pulitzer Prize continues to play an integral role in SDHC programming, we encourage you to check out the Pulitzer Prize-winning books featured as Book Club to Go selections in our Lending Library.

SDHC featured Pulitzer Prize winners at events throughout the year – culminating at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books – as part of its 2018 "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" initiativeThe series of programs began April 26 with events featuring Martin Baron at the University of South Dakota. Baron, Pulitzer Prize-winning executive editor of The Washington Post, received the 2017 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in The Media. 

Meanwhile, in 2016, a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes allowed SDHC to expose audiences to the brilliant work of an unprecedented 13 Pulitzer Prize-winning authors who visited the state, including six who participated in the Festival of Books.

A 2016 panel at the Festival of Books featured Pulitzer Prize winners Ted Kooser, Shirley Christian, Michael Dirda, Robert Olen Butler and T.J. Stiles

A 2016 panel at the Festival of Books featured, from left to right, Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Dirda, Robert Olen Butler, Shirley Christian, Ted Kooser and T.J. Stiles. SDHC brought more Pulitzer winners to the state in 2018, and the SDHC Book Club to Go Lending Library features numerous Pulitzer selections. 

Pulitzer Books Part of Expansive Library for Book Clubs

In addition to attending Pulitzer-related events as they come up in humanities programs and the Festival of Books, your book club can learn more about the type of writing that wins the prestigious Pulitzer by "checking out" past winners through the SDHC Lending Library.

The South Dakota Humanities Council's Lending Library contains more than 70 potential book club books available as part of the "Book Club to Go" program for a $50 application fee. These titles include three Pulitzer Prize-winning books and nine authors who have won Pulitzer Prizes, been Pulitzer Prize finalists, or received a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize jury. Book Club to Go provides up to 30 copies of any title from the council's lending library and an SDHC scholar, if desired, to lead a book discussion.

If your group is looking for books to read, you can't go wrong with these selections:

Pulitzer Prize Winning Titles:

  • "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson (2005, Fiction)
  • "March" by Geraldine Brooks (2006, Fiction)
  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (1961, Fiction)

Pulitzer Prize Winners (with featured title listed and Pulitzer information in parentheses):

  • Willa Cather, "My Antonia" ("One of Ours," 1923, Novel - category later renamed to Fiction)
  • Dexter Filkins, "The Forever War" (New York Times, 2009, International Reporting)
  • Tracy Kidder, "Old Friends" ("The Soul of a New Machine," 1982, General Nonfiction)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Namesake" ("Interpreter of Maladies," 2000, Fiction)
  • James M. McPherson, "Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam" ("Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era," 1989, History)
  • Jane Smiley, "Some Luck" ("A Thousand Acres," 1992, Fiction)

Finalists (with featured title listed and Pulitzer information in parentheses):

  • Dexter Filkins, "The Forever War" (The New York Times, 2002, International Reporting)
  • Edward L. Ayers, "America's War" ("The Promise of the New South," 1993, History)
  • Louise Erdrich, "The Master Butcher's Singing Club" ("The Plague of Doves," 2009, Fiction)
  • Dave Eggers, "What Is the What" ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," 2001, General Nonfiction)


  • Ray Bradbury, "Farenheit 451" (Pulitzer Prize special citation for author, 2007)
Jhumpa Lahiri, Pulitzer Winner, is featured in the SDHC Lending Library.

Pulitzer Prize Featured Author Jhumpa Lahiri: Winner at 32

Author Jhumpa Lahiri dismisses the term "immigrant fiction."

"All American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction," said Lahiri in an interview with The New York Times. "The stranger is an archetype in epic poetry, in novels. The tension between alienation and assimilation has always been a basic theme."

Lahiri, an Indian American author, is quite acquainted with this tension. Growing up amidst both Bengali and American culture, Lahiri often felt pulled between the two. Her desire to express the experience of cultural divide has fueled much of her work.

Born in London to immigrants from West Bengal, Lahiri was raised in Rhode Island from the age of two. "Like many immigrant offspring I felt intense pressure to be two things, loyal to the old world and fluent in the new," said Lahiri in an interview with Newsweek.

She went on to study the humanities, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English literature before earning several master's degrees in literature and writing, and a doctorate in Renaissance Studies. In 2000, Lahiri was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her debut collection of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies." This made Lahiri one of the youngest winners of the Prize at age 32. She was also awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2014 for "enlarging the human story."

Lahiri's short stories address the cultural gaps first-and second-generation Indian Americans face in their everyday experiences. Each story provides an intimate look into the lives of her characters, reminiscent of the familiar desire for belonging.

Lahiri expands on the Indian American immigrant experience in her first novel, "The Namesake," released in 2003.

The novel follows a Bengali couple as they immigrate to the United States, where they give birth to a son and daughter. Their son, Gogol, struggles to balance his native culture with his American surroundings. Ultimately, Gogol must choose between estranging his family for the American dream or embracing his Bengali roots.

Copies of "The Namesake" are available from the SDHC's Lending Library through the Book Club to Go program.

Apply to Host a "Book Club to Go" Today

With a diverse selection of literature, the South Dakota Humanities Council offers a packaged reading program for book clubs or other interested groups. Whether the events are organized by individuals or by organizations, Book Club to Go provides up to 30 copies of any title from the council's Lending Library and an SDHC scholar, if desired, to lead a book discussion. For a $50 application fee, the group gains access to any of the council's 70-plus titles.

For more information on the application and to apply, click the button below.