Norwich Public Library
Norwich Public Library

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2020 Pulitzer Prize Books @ NPL

Fifteen books were recognized as winners or finalists for the Pulitzer Prize on May 4, in the categories of fiction, general history, biography, poetry and general nonfiction. At NPL, we have several of these selections, and we've provided them here with descriptive language from the NYTimes.

The Nickel Boys / Colson Whitehead
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The Nickel Boys / Colson Whitehead

In his latest novel, the “Underground Railroad” writer fictionalized the story of a Florida school where dozens of black boys were tortured and buried in a secret graveyard. “Were Whitehead’s only aim to shine an unforgiving light on a redacted chapter of racial terrorism in the American chronicle, that would be achievement enough,” wrote the NYTimes reviewer. But Whitehead “applies a master storyteller’s muscle not just to excavating a grievous past but to examining the process by which Americans undermine, distort, hide or ‘neatly erase’ the stories he is driven to tell.”

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The Nickel Boys / Colson  Whitehead
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The Nickel Boys / Colson Whitehead

e-Book version available via GMLC's Overdrive collection.

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The Dutch House / Ann Patchett
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The Dutch House / Ann Patchett

This novel explores the dynamics of a blended family living in a glass house outside Philadelphia in midcentury. “I can’t pluck out one sentence worth quoting, but how effective they are when woven together — these translucent lines that envelop you like a spider’s web,” wrote the NYTimes reviewer. “It can feel old-fashioned: her style, her attachment to a very traditional kind of storytelling,” but “like the family’s Dutch house, it’s an enduring structure, which gives an added dimension to the references in the text — its way of gesturing toward a lineage.”

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The Dutch House / Ann Patchett
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The Dutch House / Ann Patchett

e-Book version via GMLC's Overdrive collection.

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The Topeka School / Ben Lerner
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The Topeka School / Ben Lerner

Lerner’s “exhilarating” novel, also selected by the NYTimes Book Review as one of the 10 best books of 2019, features a familiar protagonist to his readers, Adam Gordon, this time as a high school student. Lerner’s questions about art and authenticity are carried through to this book, but in “The Topeka School,” “Adam’s faithlessness can no longer be written off as cosmopolitan neurosis. It is instead a symptom of a national crisis of belief, in which structures of understanding crumble and ‘regimes of meaning collapse into the spread.’”

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The Topeka School / Ben Lerner
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The Topeka School / Ben Lerner

e-Book version available via GMLC's Overdrive collection.

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Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement / Albert Woodfox
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Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement / Albert Woodfox

This “uncommonly powerful” memoir details Woodfox’s young life of crime and his time in various prisons, including four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. “If the ending of this book does not leave you with tears pooling down in your clavicles, you are a stronger person than I am,” wrote the NYTimes reviewer. “More lasting is Woodfox’s conviction that the American justice system is in dire need of reform.”

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Our man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American century / George Packer.
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Our man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American century / George Packer.

“Our Man” — a biography as “charming, brilliant, cocksure and exasperating” as its subject, the American diplomat Richard Holbrooke — isn’t a book you’re supposed to dip into piecemeal, searching for information; it’s best appreciated like a novel, consumed whole.

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Elderhood / Louise Aronson
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Elderhood / Louise Aronson

In this book, Aronson, a geriatrician, draws from her 25 years of caring for patients, as well as history, science and popular culture, to paint a humanistic picture of old age.

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