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

1984 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction Winner

Ironweed by William Kennedy


Publisher: Penguin

Length: 227 pages

About: Survival of 1930s alcoholic vagrant

Style: 3rd person

Where: US (Albany NY)

When: 1938



Publisher’s synopsis:

Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers' strike. He ran away again after accidentally -- and fatally -- dropping his infant son. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and the present.



The brothers read also in Francis's face the familiar scars of alcoholic desolation, which both had developed in their graves. For both had been deeply drunk and vulnerable when the cutthroat Muggins killed them in tandem and took all their money: forty-eight cents.




The guilty-father-innocent-son theme is effectively elaborated without all the earlier novel's ruminations on Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. Instead of using rhetoric to call up both Francis's and Albany's past, Mr. Kennedy relies more on the age-old device of ghosts. The result is an altogether starker, less cluttered fiction - a novel that goes straight for the throat, and the funnybone.

New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt 10th January 1983

Not so good:

Marred in places by a certain sentimentality, Ironweed is nonetheless a fascinating portrait of an individual facing up to the actions of his past.

16th July 2002 www.geocites .com click here to view full review

About the author

Born Jan 16th 1928, in Albany, New York. Kennedy brought his native city to literary life in many of his works. After serving in the Army, Kennedy lived in Puerto Rico where he met his mentor, Saul Bellow, who encouraged him to write novels. Kennedy is a professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.























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<1983> -  <1985>















Page turner







Age guide: 18



Novels by same author:



1987 Film directed by Hector Babenco starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep








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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