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.

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