Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1950 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

The Way West by A.B. Guthrie Jr


Publisher: Mariner Books

Length: 340 pages

About: Pioneers head west to Oregon

Style: 3rd person

Where: US (Missouri, Oregon)

When: 1846


Publisher’s synopsis:

Early Americana (short stories) (1936)

The sequel to THE BIG SKY, this celebrated novel charts a frontiersman's return to the untamed West in 1846. Dick Summers, as pilot of a wagon train, guides a group of settlers on the difficult journey from Missouri to Oregon. In sensitive but unsentimental prose, Guthrie illuminates the harsh trials and resounding triumphs of pioneer life. With THE WAY WEST, he pays homage to the grandeur of the western wilderness, its stark and beautiful scenery, and its extraordinary people.



Dick’s eyes were never quiet. They ran to right and left and looked ahead and back, and what they missed, Evans imagined, wasn’t much. When they crossed a trail that ran north and south, Dick gave it just a glance, but Evans had a notion that Dick knew from just one quick look just about when it had been travelled last.




With sure skill, with absolute command of every detail of equipment, custom, speech and thought, with artful simplicity and eloquent feeling, Mr Guthrie has written a stirring and tenderly moving book.

New York Times, Orville Prescott, 10th October 1949


Not so good:

None found to date



About the author

January 13, 1901 – April 26, 1991 called himself "Bud" because he felt that Alfred Bertram was "a sissy name."

A. B. Guthrie, Jr. was born in Bedford, Indiana, and relocated with his parents to Montana when he was six months old. His father was a graduate of Indiana University, his mother from an Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana. Nine Guthrie children were born, but most of them died as infants. A.B. was a sickly child and the Guthries relocated their children to Ontario, California, for their health. Two months later their 13-year-old daughter died from a tick bite and the Guthries relocated back to Montana. There, some months later, their youngest son also died. Only three of the nine children survived to adulthood.

A constant reader, Guthrie tried to write while in high school, "fiction pretty much, some essays, but I majored in journalism. My father had been a newspaper man for four years in this little town in Kentucky, and I guess he thought it was the way to become a writer," an idea his son disputed because the crafts are so different.

Guthrie won the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, while working as the executive editor of the newspaper Lexington Leader in Kentucky. While at Harvard he made friends with Theodore Morrison, an English professor, "who knew so much about writing, probably more than I ever will. And somehow, he took me under his wing. With patience and guidance and always deliberation, he taught me the language of fiction."

After working 22 years as a news reporter and editor for the Lexington Leader, Guthrie wrote his first novel. Guthrie died during 1991, at age 90, at his ranch near Choteau.


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<1949> -  <1951>















Page turner







Age guide: 12



Novels by same author:



1968 film starring Kirk Douglas and robert Mitchum






2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

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