Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Updated June 14, 2021 | Infoplease Staff

The premier prize for American fiction

The Pulitzer Prize for fiction, first given in 1918, is widely recognized as one of the biggest prizes in the American publishing industry. Before 1948, the prize was only given to novels. It was later expanded to include short fiction collections, with the first anthology win being the collected stories of Katherine Porter in 1966.

A common feature one might notice on this list (and many awards lists) is that many authors won the Pulitzer for books that are not often their most studied or widely acclaimed. William Faulkner, for example, has only won Pulitzers for some of his more minor works. It's not uncommon for authors to win prizes that are felt to be "overdue," if the author was overlooked when they published books that went on to be classics. In Faulkner's case, the administrator for the prize convinced the committee to overturn their choice in 1955 for that exact reason. Likewise Ernest Hemingway didn't win a prize until the 1950s.

1918 His Family, Ernest Poole
1919 The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington
1921 The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
1922 Alice Adams, Booth Tarkington
1923 One of Ours, Willa Cather
1924 The Able McLaughlins, Margaret Wilson
1925 So Big, Edna Ferber
1926 Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis
1927 Early Autumn, Louis Bromfield
1928 The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
1929 Scarlet Sister Mary, Julia Peterkin
1930 Laughing Boy, Oliver La Farge
1931 Years of Grace, Margaret Ayer Barnes
1932 The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
1933 The Store, T. S. Stribling
1934 Lamb in His Bosom, Caroline Miller
1935 Now in November, Josephine Winslow Johnson
1936 Honey in the Horn, Harold L. Davis
1937 Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
1938 The Late George Apley, John Phillips Marquand
1939 The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
1940 The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
1942 In This Our Life, Ellen Glasgow
1943 Dragon's Teeth, Upton Sinclair
1944 Journey in the Dark, Martin Flavin
1945 A Bell for Adano, John Hersey
1947 All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
1948 Tales of the South Pacific, James A. Michener
1949 Guard of Honor, James Gould Cozzens
1950 The Way West, A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
1951 The Town, Conrad Richter
1952 The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
1953 The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
1955 A Fable, William Faulkner
1956 Andersonville, MacKinlay Kantor
1958 A Death in the Family, James Agee
1959 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Robert Lewis Taylor
1960 Advise and Consent, Allen Drury
1961 To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
1962 The Edge of Sadness, Edwin O'Connor
1963 The Reivers, William Faulkner
1965 The Keepers of the House, Shirley Ann Grau
1966 Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Anne Porter
1967 The Fixer, Bernard Malamud
1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron
1969 House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday
1970 Collected Stories, Jean Stafford
1972 Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
1973 The Optimist's Daughter, Eudora Welty
1975 The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
1976 Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow
1978 Elbow Room, James Alan McPherson
1979 The Stories of John Cheever, John Cheever
1980 The Executioner's Song, Norman Mailer
1981 A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
1982 Rabbit Is Rich, John Updike
1983 The Color Purple, Alice Walker
1984 Ironweed, William Kennedy
1985 Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie
1986 Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
1987 A Summons to Memphis, Peter Taylor
1988 Beloved, Toni Morrison
1989 Breathing Lessons, Anne Tyler
1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos
1991 Rabbit at Rest, John Updike
1992 A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
1993 A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler
1994 The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
1995 The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
1996 Independence Day, Richard Ford
1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, Steven Millhauser
1998 American Pastoral, Philip Roth
1999 The Hours, Michael Cunningham
2000 Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
2002 Empire Falls, Richard Russo
2003 Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
2004 The Known World, Edward P. Jones
2005 Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
2006 March, Geraldine Brooks
2007 The Road, Cormac McCarthy
2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
2009 Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
2010 Tinkers, Paul Harding
2011 A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
2013 The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson
2014 The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
2015 All the Light we Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
2016 The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
2017 The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
2018 Less, Andrew Sean Greer
2019 The Overstory, Richard Powers
2020 The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
2021 The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich
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