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

1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler


Publisher: Minerva

Length: 249 pages

About: Vietnamese-Americans narrate variety of tales

Style: 1st person

Where: US (Louisana) and Vietnam

When: 1980s


Publisher’s synopsis:

A collection of lyrical and poignant stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its enduring impact on the Vietnamese. Written in a soaring prose, Butler's haunting and powerful stories blend Vietnamese folklore and contemporary American realities, creating a vibrant panorama that is epic in its scope.



I was once able to bring fire from heaven. My wife knew that and her would-be lovers soon learned that, though dometimes the lesson was a hard one for them. But that was in Vietnam, and when the need arose once more, here in America, I had to find a new way.




The book has attracted such acclaim not simply because it is beautifully and powerfully written, but because it convincingly pulls off an immense imaginative risk: the stories are first-person narratives of Vietnamese emigres to the United States, men and women now settled in Louisiana, where Butler himself lives. He has, for the first time, given voices to those who, in losing the war, lost their homes.

Guardian, Clare Messud 9th June 1993

Not so good:

….BUT there are risks in the simpler tales. They sometimes tend toward melodrama: large, obvious emotions are generated by manipulations of plot. And Mr. Butler can't always resist sentimental endings…..

New York Times, George Packer 7th June 1992

About the author

Born in January 20, 1945. He served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971, first as a counter-intelligence special agent for the Army and later as a translator. He rose to the rank of sergeant in the Army Military Intelligence Corps. Butler told The New York Times in 1993. 'The Vietnamese were the warmest, most open and welcoming people I've ever met, and they just invited me into their homes and into their culture and into their lives.



















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Age guide: 12





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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.

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

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