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

1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole


Publisher: Penguin

Length: 429 pages

About: Eloquent, unemployable obese New Orlean

Style: 1st & 3rd person

Where: US (New Orleans)

When: 1960s



Publisher’s synopsis:

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly: flatulent, eleoquent and pretty much unemployable... The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged as well. Ignatius ignores them as he heaves his vast bulk through the city's fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ingnorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him. Ignatius must get a job. Undaunted, he uses his new-found employment to further his mission - and now he has a pirate costume and a hot-dog cart to do it with ...




Ignatius himself was dressed comfortably and sensibly. The hunting cap prevented head colds. The voluminous tweed trousers were durable and permitted unusually free locomotion. Their pleats and nooks contained pockets of warm, stale air that soothed Ignatius. The plaid flannel shirt made a jacket unnecessary while the muffler guarded exposed Reilly skine between earflap and collar. The oputfit was acceptable by any theological and geometrical standards, however abstruse, and suggested a richer inner life.





... John Kennedy Toole, killed himself because his novel was rejected and won a posthumous literary prize for it... Toole's commedia is witty, exuberant, broad-humoured and addictive. The author has a perfect ear for street language and the absurdity of local slang. He treats gutter and parlour life with equal gusto and compassion. The city of his birth (New Orleans) has received a mocking eulogy fromn the best writer it has bred in decades.

The Times, Andrew Sinclair, 4th June 1981

Not so good:

I know I'm out on my own on this one, but I detest this book. I really think it glorifies whining to an extent never before seen in the human condition. Everyone I know loves this book, and I know I am in a minority here. But Christ... That this book is so popular with people in my age bracket and not so popular with people older or younger really makes me wonder if it is part of the problem or a reflection of the boring, whiny apathy of my generation. But if this book has any redeemable aspects at all, it is that it highlights just how lazy and worthless my generation is. It's reflected in the reverence people my age give this book, a book whose central lesson seems to be "whining is funny, and doing things is bad".

Nathan's Review/ Good Reads  2007 (click here to see full review)


About the author

Born in New Orleans in 1937 and died in 1969. He received a master's degree in English from Columbia Univeristy and taught at Hunter College and at the University of Southwestern Louisana. He wrote Confederacy of Dunces in the early sixties and tried unsuccessfully to get his novel published; depressed by his failure, he committed suicide. After his death his mother got the book published.


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Age guide: 15






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Theatre Production in West End 1985 
























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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