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

1968 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron


Publisher: Vintage Classics

Length: 417 pages

About: Memoirs of death row slave

Style: 1st person

Where: US (Virginia)

When: 1831



Publisher’s synopsis:

In the late summer of 1831, in a remote section of southeastern Virginia, there took place the only effective, sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery... The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region. The Confessions of Nat Turner is narrated by Nat himself as he lingers in jail through the cold autumnal days before his execution. The compelling story ranges over the whole of Nat's Life, reaching its inevitable and shattering climax that bloody day in August.



The man who had been reading my confessions aloud now paused and turned and stared at me, obviously relishing the pause, his own sparkling gaze, the total effect. His face was filled with hatred and disgust. I returned his gaze without faltering, though with no emotion.




"It should be, and will be, widely read and discussed.... Mr. Styron, white and Southern, has made the leap into a Negro's mind re-created out of history and has given coherent voice to a catastrophe we hardly knew had happened."

New York Times, 10th March 1967


Not so good:

But the book’s deepest deception is the most sought-after lie in all literature. The leader of a murderous rebellion who is at the same time a most gentle and sensitive fellow, and the slave masters who thus appear through his eyes in the full regalia of their self-justifcations, alike provide ficticious proof that a man’s actions have nothing to do with his true nature, and so lift from the reader’s shoulders the burden of responsibility. I doubt that it is possible to write a more harebrained, insensitive, not to say impertinent book about human suffering.

The Times, David Levine, May 4th 1968


About the author

William Styron was born on June 11, 1925 in Newport News, Virginia. His father was a shipyard engineer who suffered from depression and his mother passed away when he was only thirteen. Moving from school to school, he eventually ended up at Duke University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts. The next year he enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he became a first lieutenant during World War II. After leaving the service, he moved to New York, where he supported his fledgling writing career working at McGraw-Hill Publishing. He also began taking classes with Hiram Haydn at the New School for Social Research. William Styron died on November 1st, 2006. He was 81 years old.






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<1967> -  <1969>















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Age guide: 15



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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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