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

1996 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

Independence Day by Richard Ford

       
 

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Length: 464 pages

About: Divorcee estate agent's trials & tribulations

Style: 1st person

Where: US New Jersey

When: 1990s

 

 

Publisher’s synopsis:

In this visionary sequel to The Sportswriter, Richard Ford deepens his portrait of one of the most unforgettable characters in American fiction, and in so doing gives us an indelible portrait of America. Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an "Existence Period," selling real estate in Haddam, New Jersey, and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy. But over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life.Independence Day is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of astonishing empathy and perception.

 

Extract:

I myself, Frank Bascombe, was mugged on Coolidge Street, one street over, late in April, spiritedly legging it home from a closing at our realty office just at dusk, a sense of achievement lightening my step, stiff hoping to catch the evening news, a bottle of Roederer-a gift from a grateful seller I'd made a bundle for-under my arm. Three young boys, one of whom I thought I'd seen before-an Asian-yet couldn't later name, came careering ziggy-zaggy down the sidewalk on minibikes, conked me in the head with a giant Pepsi bottle, and rode off howling. Nothing was stolen or broken, though I was knocked silly on the ground, and sat in the grass for ten minutes, unnoticed in a whirling daze.

 

Reviews:

Good:

Beneath the novel's richly comic surface is a profoundly serious meditation on the price of independence and the value of connectedness. It is Ford's continuing triumph that, with Frank Bascombe, he has again shown that cynicism and isolation are not necessarily the inheritance of the average white guy as the sun sets on his American empire.

The Sunday Times, Stephen Amidon 2nd July 1995

 

Not so good:

In the Daily Telegraph, Donna Tartt agreed that 'Independence Day lacks ironic detachment, possibly because Ford is over-fond of Bascombe's voice, which vacillates between the elegiac and a cranky opinionated bray.' It seems that even, or rather especially, for his previous admirers, Ford has not heightened the impact of The Sportswriter but diluted it. They may even find, in retrospect, their sense of the first book affected for the worse.

Guardian, David Sexton, 14th July 1995

 

About the author

Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi (February 16, 1944), the only son of Parker Carrol Ford, a traveling salesman for Faultless Starch, a Kansas City company. When Ford was eight years old, his father had a major heart attack, and thereafter Ford spent as much time with his grandfather, a former prizefighter and hotel owner in Little Rock, Arkansas, as he did with his parents in Mississippi. Ford's father died of a second heart attack in 1960.[1]

 

Ford received a B.A. from Michigan State University. Having enrolled to study hotel management, he switched to English. After graduating he taught junior high school in Flint, Michigan, and enlisted in the US Marines but was discharged after contracting hepatitis. At university he met Kristina Hensley, his future wife; the two married in 1968.[2]

 

Despite mild dyslexia, Ford developed a serious interest in literature. He has stated in interviews that his dyslexia may, in fact, have helped him as a reader, as it forced him to approach books at a slow and thoughtful pace.[3]

 

Ford briefly attended law school but dropped out and entered the creative writing program at the University of California, Irvine, to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree, which he received in 1970.


 
 

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<1995> -  <1997>

 

 


Ratings

Adventure

 3

Filmability

 5

Historical

 3

Humorous

 7

Intellectuality

 5

Life-changing

 7

Page turner

 7

Readability

 5

Romance

 3

 

Age guide: 12

 

 

 

 

 

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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