The Pulitzer Prize: America’s Storytellers

“Anthracite Fields” — Julia Wolfe (credit:

The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually to America’s brightest journalists, novelists, photographers, and artists. The pieces selected for the prizes typically investigate an aspect of American life. This year, on April 20, twenty-one prizes were awarded to pieces ranging from Breaking Reporting to Music.

The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service is awarded annually to a newspaper or news site that provides an act of public service through their stories, photography, etc. This year’s Public Service award has been awarded to Charleston, SC’s The Post and Courier. The Post and Courier published a journalism series discussing the dangers of being a woman in South Carolina. South Carolina is one of the deadliest states in America for women, an issue that hadn’t been addressed by the state. The series, “Till Death Do Us Part,” was so influential that state government has put the issue of women’s safety on their agenda.

The Prize for Breaking News Photography is bestowed upon a newspaper or journalism site that best portrays breaking news worldwide. Some finalists for this category were Lima, Ponomarev, and Sinai of The New York Times, whose photographs depicted the conflict in Ukraine and Hicks, Ponomarev, and Nassar of The New York Times, whose photographs portrayed the bloody conflict in Gaza. The winner for this category was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They were awarded for their depiction of the conflict in Ferguson, MO. Their photography helped the nation get an inside look on the racial riots there.

All of the finalists of the Feature Photography category were nominated for the award due to their fascinating photography, showing different viewpoints of issues around the world. Some finalists were Bulent Kilic of the Agence France-Presse in Washington, D.C. and Bob Owen, Jerry Lara, and Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News. However, the winner of this category was Daniel Berehulak of The New York Times. Berehulak was awarded for his captivating photographs of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is annually awarded to an American author that gives readers a glance into an aspect of American life through their work. This year the winner was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction was “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. “All the Light We Cannot See” is a fiction novel about the terrors of World War II. In these horrors, the novel investigates the truth behind human nature and focuses on the conflicting viewpoints revolving around technology. Previous winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction include “The Goldfinch,” by Donna Tartt, the 2014 winner, and “The Orphan Master’s Son,” by Adam Johnson, the 2013 winner.

Similar to the fiction award, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama is awarded to an American author whose drama is based on an aspect of American life. Some finalists for this category were Jordan Harrison for “Marjorie Prime” and Suzan-Lori Parks for “Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3).” The winner of the award was Stephen Adly Guirgis for “Between Riverside and Crazy.” This drama investigates the life of a retired police officer that is confronted with eviction. The drama also takes a closer look at the questions of life and death. “Between Riverside and Crazy” has been extremely successful thus far; it’s showing at the Atlantic Theater Company was completely sold-out.

The Pulitzer Prize for music was awarded to Julia Wolfe for her piece, “Anthracite Fields.” The composition premiered on April 26, 2014 in Philadelphia and discusses the life of a Pennsylvania coal miner during the 20th Century. Julia Wolfe, the composer of “Anthracite Fields,” combines elements from folk, classical and rock music in her compositions, making them more unique than other pieces. The other runners-up for this award were “Xiaoxiang,” by Lei Liang and “The Aristos,” by John Zorn. “Xiaoxiang” premiered on March 28, 2014, in Boston and tells the tale of a widow after the loss of her husband. “The Aristos,” premiered on December 21, 2014 in New York City. Although this piece doesn’t have a specific story behind it, the music is thrilling and breathtaking.

The Pulitzer Prize highlights the great achievements that are made annually by American journalists, artists, and novelists. These accomplishments may have previously been unknown to the public, but thanks to the Pulitzer Prize their works are being recognized all Americans.