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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Books Awarded

From Pulitzer to Kiriyama
By Deepika Shetty
The first of April, is the season for the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes in the US. The Annual Awards by Columbia University recognise the best work published in the US and the recognition crosses several genres of writing right from fiction, biography, general non-fiction, history, poetry to journalism and letters.

As expected the competition is intense and making their mark this year in the Letters and Drama Prizes was Oscar-winning writer John Patrick Shanley. He won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for 'Doubt' which also happens to be his first Broadway play. Shanley, who has written a number of successful plays, had won the Academy Award for best screenplay for "Moonstruck" in 1988.

The Pulitzer for fiction went to Marilynne Robinson for "Gilead," her poetic, modern-day tale of a dying Iowa preacher. While Professor David Hackett Fischer, won the prize for history for his work "Washington's Crossing."

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan won in the biography category for "de Kooning: An American Master." Their sweeping biography of the artist took 10 years to finish. It follows de Kooning, the man drawing from his work as an abstract expressionist right through his battles with alcoholism and Alzheimer's. Stevens is currently the art critic for New York magazine, while Swan is a veteran magazine writer who has worked for Time and Newsweek.

National poet laureate Ted Kooser won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for "Delights and Shadows." And Steve Coll collected his second Pulitzer, winning in general nonfiction for "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001." In 1990, while serving as South Asia bureau chief for The Washington Post, Coll captured a Pulitzer for explanatory journalism. The author of four books, is now an associate editor at the Post.

In the Journalism and Letters category, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal each picked up two Pulitzers.

Another notable literary contest is the Kiriyama Prize. Two South Asian immigrants were declared joint winners of this prestigious award. Both wrote about emotion and desperation underlying racial and religious conflicts.

Pacific Rim voices, the San Francisco-based independent group which gives out this prize strives to promote greater understanding among the people of Asia and the Pacific. And it believes both books will 'spark a dialogue that is crucial for our times'.

Pakistan-born Nadeem Aslam's novel, 'Maps for Lost Lovers,' was the fiction winner, while India-born Suketu Mehta's 'Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found' swept the non-fiction category of the annual awards. Aslam and Mehta will share the 30,000 dollar cash prize.

London-based Aslam's novel took eleven years to complete. Critics say it is both a moving love story and a sophisticated murder mystery set against the backdrop of a poor South Asian enclave in a British city.

'In Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found', New York-based journalist Mehta returns to Bombay, the city of his birth, only to find it drastically altered from the city he knew as a young boy. And the transformation has taken place largely due to religious differences between Hindus and Muslims.

To put a human face on the world's third largest city, Mehta offers his own experiences and impressions together with a series of personal interviews with a variety of Bombays citizens. These include top cops, rich entertainers, gangsters and their victims, Bollywood stars, journalists and prostitutes alike. Gripping in parts, distressing in others, it is a compelling read of a city that continues to draw thousands of people into its fold each year.