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Pulitzers Go to Books About 2 Giants of American History

Works on Frederick Douglass and Alain Locke recognized
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2019 4:38 PM CDT
In this April 8, 1975 file photo, singer Aretha Franklin performs during the 47th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo, File)
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(Newser) – Aretha Franklin received an honorary Pulitzer Prize on Monday, as judges praised the Queen of Soul "for her indelible contribution to American music and culture." Franklin, who died last summer, was the first woman singled out for an honorary Pulitzer, which has been given to Bob Dylan and John Coltrane among others, reports the AP. Competitive Pulitzers were awarded to books about two other giants of American history: Frederick Douglass and Alain Locke. David W. Blight's 900-page Frederick Douglass was named the best work of history, while the biography prize went to Jeffrey C. Stewart's The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke. Richard Powers' innovative novel The Overstory, which shows us the world through the perspective of nature, won for fiction.

The drama prize went to Fairview, by Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Eliza Griswold's Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America won for general nonfiction. Ellen Reid's opera p r i s m, which tackles sexual and emotional abuse, was given the music award, and Forrest Gander's elegiac Be With the poetry prize. The lives of Franklin, Douglass, and Locke spanned and helped define more than a century of political and social change: Douglass was the country's leading abolitionist of the 19th century, Locke the so-called "Dean" of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, and Franklin a transcendent and inspiring voice of the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The AP has much more on the authors here.

(Read more Pulitzer Prize stories.)

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