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1973 Pulitzer prize for Fiction Winner

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

       
 

Publisher: Virago

Length: 180 pages

About: Judge’s daughter stirs old memories

Style: 3rd person

Where: US (Mississippi)

When: 1930s-50s

 

Publisher’s synopsis:

Judge McKelva was seen as a reassuring figure. People looked at him, with his wife Becky and daughter Laurel, and they felt good: that was how well bred people ought to be. But when, 10 years after his wife's death, the Judge marries silly young Fay, everyone is disconcerted - especially Laurel. Years later back at her childhood home, Laurel stirs old memories and comes to understand the peculiarities of her upbringing, and the true relationship between her parents and herself.

 

Extract:

Judge McKelva was seen as a reassuring figure. People looked at him, with his wife Becky and daughter Laurel, and they felt good: that was how well bred people ought to be. But when, 10 years after his wife's death, the Judge marries silly young Fay, everyone is disconcerted - especially Laurel. Years later back at her childhood home, Laurel stirs old memories and comes to understand the peculiarities of her upbringing, and the true relationship between her parents and herself.

 

Reviews:

Good:

'a miracle of compression, the kind of book, small in scope but profound in its implications, that rewards a lifetime of work.'

Howard Moss, New York Times

 

Not so good:

...Nothing she writes is without merit and for those who have the patience and the inclination to analyze and dissect what they read "The Optimist's Daughter" has much to offer.

Bev Thacker, Alton Evening Telegraph, 9th June 1972


About the author

April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001. 

Near the time of her high school graduation, Eudora moved with her family to a house built for them at 1119 Pinehurst Street, which would remain her permanent address until her death. Wyatt C. Hedrick designed the Welty's Tudor Revival style home, which is now known as the Eudora Welty House.

 

From 1925 to 1927, Welty studied at the Mississippi State College for Women, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin to complete her studies in English Literature. She studied advertising at Columbia University at the suggestion of her father. Because she graduated at the height of the Great Depression, she struggled to find work in New York. Soon after she returned to Jackson in 1931, her father died of leukemia. She took a job at a local radio station and wrote about Jackson society for the Tennessee newspaper Commercial Appeal.

 

In 1935, she began work for the Works Progress Administration. As a publicity agent, she collected stories, conducted interviews, and took photographs of daily life in Mississippi. It was here that she observed the Southern life and human relationships that she would later use in her short stories. During this time she also held meetings in her house with fellow writers and friends, a group she called the Night-Blooming Cereus Club. Three years later, she left her job to become a full-time writer.

 

Her new-found success won her a seat on the staff of The New York Times book review and as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship grant that allowed her to travel to France, England, Ireland, and Germany. While abroad, she spent some time as a resident lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1960, she returned home to Jackson once again to care for her elderly mother and two brothers.

 
 

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<1972> -  <1974>

 

 

Ratings

Adventure

 1

Filmability

 2

Historical

 2

Humorous

 0

Intellectuality

 5

Life-changing

 5

Page turner

 5

Readability

 8

Romance

 5

 

Age guide: U

 

 

 

Novels by same author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptations:

None to date

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© PWF.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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