The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It recognizes distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, published during the preceding calendar year.

As the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (awarded 1918–1947), it was one of the original Pulitzers; the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year [1] (no Novel prize was awarded in 1917, the first one having been granted in 1918).[2]

The name was changed to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, and eligibility was expanded to also includes short stories, novellas, novelettes, and poetry, as well as novels.

Finalists have been announced since 1980, usually a total of three.[2]


As defined in the original Plan of Award, the prize was given "Annually, for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood," although there was some struggle over whether the word wholesome should be used instead of whole, the word Pulitzer had written in his will.[3] In 1927, the advisory board quietly instituted Pulitzer's word choice, replacing wholesome with whole.

With 1929 came the first of several much more substantive changes. The board changed the wording to "preferably one which shall best present the whole atmosphere of American life" and deleted the insistence that the novel portray "the highest standard of American manners and manhood". In 1936, emphasis was changed again, with the award going to "a distinguished novel published during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life". In 1948, the advisory board widened the scope of the award with the wording "For distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life."[3] This change allowed the prize to go to a collection of short stories for the first time, James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific.


In 31 years under the "Novel" name, the prize was awarded 27 times; in its first 69 years to 2016 under the "Fiction" name, 62 times. There have been 11 years during which no title received the award. It has never been shared by two authors.[2] Four writers have won two prizes each in the Fiction category: Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner, John Updike, and Colson Whitehead.

1910s to 1970s

Year Winner Work Genre(s) Author's origin
Ernest Poole.jpg
Ernest Poole
His Family Macmillan (1917) Novel Illinois
Booth Tarkington cph.3b27122.jpg
Booth Tarkington
The Magnificent Ambersons Doubleday, Page & Co. (1918) Novel Indiana
1920 Not awarded[a]
Edith wharton face.jpg
Edith Wharton
The Age of Innocence D. Appleton & Company (1920) Novel New York
Booth Tarkington cph.3b27122.jpg
Booth Tarkington
Alice Adams Doubleday, Page & Co. (1921) Novel Indiana
Willa Cather - The Borzoi.jpg
Willa Cather
One of Ours Alfred A. Knopf (1922) Novel Virginia
1924 Margaret Wilson
The Able McLaughlins Harper & Brothers (1923) Debut novel Iowa
Edna Ferber
So Big Grosset & Dunlap (1924) Novel Michigan
Sinclair Lewis
Arrowsmith[b] Harcourt Brace & Co. (1925) Novel Minnesota
Louis Bromfield
Early Autumn Amereon Ltd (1926) Novel Ohio
Thornton Wilder - 1948.jpg
Thornton Wilder
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Albert & Charles Boni (1927) Novel Wisconsin
Julia Peterkin.jpg
Julia Peterkin
Scarlet Sister Mary Bobbs-Merrill Company (1928) Novel South Carolina
1930 Oliver La Farge
Laughing Boy Houghton Mifflin (1929) Novel New York
1931 Margaret Ayer Barnes
Years of Grace Houghton Mifflin (1930) Novel Illinois
Pearl Buck (Nobel).jpg
Pearl S. Buck
The Good Earth John Day Company (1931) Historical fiction West Virginia
T. S. Stribling.jpg
T. S. Stribling
The Store Doubleday, Doran (1932) Novel Tennessee
1934 Caroline Miller
Lamb in His Bosom Harper & Brothers (1933) Debut novel Georgia
1935 Josephine Winslow Johnson
Now in November Simon & Schuster (1934) Debut novel Missouri
1936 Harold L. Davis
Honey in the Horn Harper & Brothers (1935) Debut novel Oregon
Margaret Mitchell NYWTS.jpg
Margaret Mitchell
Gone with the Wind Macmillan Publishers (1936) Novel Georgia
1938 John Philips Marquand
The Late George Apley Little, Brown and Company (1937) Epistolary novel Delaware
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.jpg
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Yearling Charles Scribner's Sons (1938) Young adult novel Washington, D.C.
John Steinbeck 1939 (cropped).jpg
John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath Viking Press (1939) Novel California
1941 Not awarded[c]
Portrait of Ellen Glasgow.jpg
Ellen Glasgow
In This Our Life Jonathan Cape (1941) Novel Virginia
Upton Sinclair 1.jpg
Upton Sinclair
Dragon's Teeth Viking Press (1942) Historical fiction Maryland
1944 Martin Flavin
Journey in the Dark Harper & Brothers (1943) Novel California
Portrait of John Hersey LCCN2004663004.jpg
John Hersey
A Bell for Adano Alfred A. Knopf (1944) War novel New York
(born in Tianjin, China)
1946 Not awarded[d]
Robert Penn Warren.jpg
Robert Penn Warren
All the King's Men Harcourt, Brace & Company (1946) Political fiction Kentucky
James Albert Michener · DN-SC-92-05368.JPEG
James A. Michener
Tales of the South Pacific Macmillan Publishers (1947) Interrelated short stories,
Book debut
1949 James Gould Cozzens
Guard of Honor Harcourt, Brace & Company (1948) War novel Illinois
A. B. Guthrie 1923 (page 32 crop).jpg
A. B. Guthrie
The Way West William Sloane Associates (1949) Western fiction Indiana
1951 Conrad Richter
The Town Alfred A. Knopf (1950) Novel Pennsylvania
Herman Wouk (cropped).jpg
Herman Wouk
The Caine Mutiny Doubleday (1951) Historical fiction New York
Ernest Hemingway 1950 crop.jpg
Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea Charles Scribner's Sons (1952) Short novel Illinois
1954 Not awarded[e]
Carl Van Vechten - William Faulkner (greyscale and cropped).jpg
William Faulkner
A Fable Random House (1954) Novel Mississippi
MacKinlay Kantor (1950).jpg
MacKinlay Kantor
Andersonville Penguin Books (1955) Historical fiction Iowa
1957 Not awarded[f]
1958 James Agee
A Death in the Family
(posthumous win)
McDowell, Obolensky (1957) Autobiographical novel Tennessee
1959 Robert Lewis Taylor
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters Doubleday (1958) Historical fiction Illinois
1960 Allen Drury
Advise and Consent Doubleday (1959) Political fiction,
Debut novel
Harper Lee Nov07.JPG
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird J. B. Lippincott & Co. (1960) Southern Gothic,
Debut novel
1962 Edwin O'Connor
The Edge of Sadness Little, Brown and Company (1961) Novel Rhode Island
Carl Van Vechten - William Faulkner (greyscale and cropped).jpg
William Faulkner
The Reivers
(posthumous win)
Random House (1962) Novel Mississippi
1964 Not awarded[g]
Shirley Ann Grau LCCN97503400.jpg
Shirley Ann Grau
The Keepers of the House Alfred A. Knopf (1964) Novel Louisiana
1966 Katherine Anne Porter
Collected Stories Harcourt Brace (1965) Short story collection Texas
Bernard Malamud portrait.jpg
Bernard Malamud
The Fixer Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1966) Novel New York
William Styron, author, cropped (2).jpg
William Styron
The Confessions of Nat Turner Random House (1967) Novel Virginia
1969 N. Scott Momaday
(b. 1934)
House Made of Dawn Harper & Row (1968) Novel Oklahoma
1970 Jean Stafford
Collected Stories Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1969) Short story collection California
1971 Not awarded[h]
1972 Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose Doubleday (1971) Novel Iowa
Eudora Welty
The Optimist's Daughter Random House (1972) Short novel Mississippi
1974 Not awarded[i]
1975 Michael Shaara
The Killer Angels David McKay Publications (1974) Historical fiction New Jersey
Saul Bellow (Herzog portrait).jpg
Saul Bellow
Humboldt's Gift Viking Press (1975) Novel Illinois
(born in Quebec, Canada)
1977 Not awarded[j]
1978 James Alan McPherson
Elbow Room Little, Brown (1977) Short story collection Georgia
John Cheever
The Stories of John Cheever Alfred A. Knopf (1978) Short story collection Massachusetts

1980s to 2020s

Entries from this point on include the finalists listed for each year.

Year Winner Work Genre(s) Author's origin Finalists
Norman Mailer 1948 (cropped).jpg
Norman Mailer
The Executioner's Song Little, Brown (1979) True crime novel New Jersey
1981 John Kennedy Toole
A Confederacy of Dunces
(posthumous win)
Louisiana State University Press (1980) Picaresque novel Louisiana
John Updike with Bushes new.jpg
John Updike
Rabbit Is Rich Alfred A. Knopf (1981) Novel Pennsylvania
Alice Walker.jpg
Alice Walker
(b. 1944)
The Color Purple Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1982) Epistolary novel Georgia
1984 William Kennedy
(b. 1928)
Ironweed Viking Press (1983) Novel New York
1985 Alison Lurie
Foreign Affairs Random House (1984) Novel Illinois
1986 Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove Simon & Schuster (1985) Western novel Texas
Peter Taylor in 1941 (cropped).jpg
Peter Taylor
A Summons to Memphis Alfred A. Knopf (1986) Novel Tennessee
Toni Morrison.jpg
Toni Morrison
Beloved Alfred A. Knopf (1987) Novel Ohio
1989 Anne Tyler
(b. 1941)
Breathing Lessons Alfred A. Knopf (1988) Novel Minnesota
Oscar Hijuelos
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1989) Novel New York
John Updike with Bushes new.jpg
John Updike
Rabbit At Rest Alfred A. Knopf (1990) Novel Pennsylvania
Jane smiley 2009.jpg
Jane Smiley
(b. 1949)
A Thousand Acres Alfred A. Knopf (1991) Domestic Realism California
Robert Olen Butler 2016.jpg
Robert Olen Butler
(b. 1945)
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Henry Holt (1992) Short story collection Illinois
E. Annie Proulx
(b. 1935)
The Shipping News Charles Scribner's Sons (1993) Novel Connecticut
1995 Carol Shields
The Stone Diaries Random House (1993) Novel Illinois
Ford, Richard -MBFI.jpg
Richard Ford
(b. 1944)
Independence Day Alfred A. Knopf (1995) Novel Mississippi
1997 Steven Millhauser
(b. 1943)
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer Crown Publishers (1996) Novel New York
Philip Roth - 1973.jpg
Philip Roth
American Pastoral Houghton Mifflin (1997) Novel New Jersey
Michael Cunningham JB by David Shankbone.jpg
Michael Cunningham
(b. 1952)
The Hours Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1998) Historical fiction Ohio
Jhumpa Lahiri (2015).png
Jhumpa Lahiri
(b. 1967)
Interpreter of Maladies Houghton Mifflin (1999) Short story collection Rhode Island
(born in London, United Kingdom)
(lives in Rome, Italy)
Michael Chabon by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Michael Chabon
(b. 1963)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Random House (2000) Historical fiction Washington, D.C.
Richard Russo.jpg
Richard Russo
(b. 1949)
Empire Falls Alfred A. Knopf (2001) Novel New York
Jeffrey Eugenides 2017.jpg
Jeffrey Eugenides
(b. 1960)
Middlesex Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2002) Family saga Michigan
2004 Edward P. Jones
(b. 1950)
The Known World Amistad Press (2003) Historical fiction Washington, D.C.
Marilynne robinson 8405.jpg
Marilynne Robinson
(b. 1943)
Gilead Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2004) Epistolary Novel Idaho
Geraldine Brooks 2002.jpg
Geraldine Brooks
(b. 1955)
March Viking Press (2005) Historical fiction New York
(born in Sydney, Australia)
Cormac McCarthy (Child of God author portrait - high-res).jpg
Cormac McCarthy
(b. 1933)
The Road Alfred A. Knopf (2006) Post-apocalyptic fiction Rhode Island
Junot Díaz (cropped).jpg
Junot Díaz
(b. 1968)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Riverhead Books (2007) Novel New Jersey
(born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Elizabeth Strout 2015.jpg
Elizabeth Strout
(b. 1956)
Olive Kitteridge[k] Random House (2008) Interrelated short stories Maine
2010 Paul Harding
(b. 1967)
Tinkers[l] Bellevue Literary Press (2009) Debut novel Massachusetts
Jennifer Egan BBF 2010 Shankbone.jpg
Jennifer Egan
(b. 1962)
A Visit from the Goon Squad[m] Alfred A. Knopf (2010) Interrelated short stories Illinois
2012 Not awarded[11]
Adam Johnson Writer Water Meter.JPG
Adam Johnson
(b. 1967)
The Orphan Master's Son[n] Random House (2012) Novel South Dakota
2014 Donna Tartt
(b. 1963)
The Goldfinch[o] Little, Brown and Company (2013) Novel Mississippi
Anthony Doerr (2015).jpg
Anthony Doerr
(b. 1973)
All the Light We Cannot See[p] Charles Scribner's Sons (2014) War novel Ohio
Viet Thanh Nguyen - 2015 National Book Festival.JPG
Viet Thanh Nguyen
(b. 1971)
The Sympathizer[q] Grove Press (2015) Debut novel California
(born in Buôn Ma Thuột, Vietnam)
Colson whitehead 2009.jpg
Colson Whitehead
(b. 1969)
The Underground Railroad[r] Doubleday (2016) Alternate historical novel New York
Andrew Sean Greer
(b. 1970)
Less[s] Little, Brown and Company (2017) Satirical novel Washington, D.C.
Richard Powers (author).jpg
Richard Powers
(b. 1957)
The Overstory[t] W. W. Norton & Company (2018) Novel Illinois
Colson whitehead 2009.jpg
Colson Whitehead
(b. 1969)
The Nickel Boys[u] Doubleday (2019) Novel New York
Louise erdrich 8199.jpg
Louise Erdrich
(b. 1954)
The Night Watchman[v] Harpercollins (2020) Novel Minnesota
Joshua Cohen BBF 2010 Shankbone.jpg
Joshua Cohen
(b. 1980)
The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family[w] New York Review Books (2021) Novel New Jersey

Repeat winners

Four writers to date have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction multiple times, one nominally in the novel category and two in the general fiction category. Ernest Hemingway was selected by the 1941 and 1953 juries, but the former was overturned and no 1941 award was given.[c]


  1. ^ First-time fiction juror Stuart P. Sherman initially recommended Joseph Hergesheimer's Java Head for the award; he rescinded his recommendation when the other jurors informed him that the word "whole" in a key phrase of the original description of the award, "the whole atmosphere of American life", had been subsequently been changed to "wholesome".[4]
  2. ^ Lewis declined the prize.[5]
  3. ^ a b The fiction jury had recommended the 1941 award be shared by The Trees by Conrad Richter and The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. While the Pulitzer Board initially intended to give the award to the jury's third choice, Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, persuaded the board to reverse its judgment because he deemed the novel offensive, and no award was given that year.[4][6]
  4. ^ Though Apartment in Athens by Glenway Wescott, The Wayfarers by Dan Wickenden, and Black Boy by Richard Wright were each championed by at least one juror, the jury as a whole could not reach a consensus; one point of contention over Black Boy specifically was that the book is a memoir, not a novel.[4]
  5. ^ The two-man fiction jury could not agree on a single book to recommend to the Advisory Board, so no award was given; among the books recommended by juror Eric P. Kelly were Ramey by Jack D. Ferris, The Sands of Karakorum by James Ullman, The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow, and The Four Lives of Mundy Tolliver by Ben Lucien Burman, while juror Harris F. Fletcher recommended The Street of the Three Friends by Myron Brinig and The Deep Sleep by Wright Morris[4]
  6. ^ The fiction jury had recommended the 1957 award to Elizabeth Spencer's The Voice at the Back Door, but the Pulitzer board, which has sole discretion for awarding the prize, made no award.
  7. ^ "Among the books the judges most seriously considered were the following: (1) Norman Fruchter's Coat Upon a Stick…, (2) May Sarton's novella Joanna and Ulysses…, (3) Sumner Locke Elliott's Careful, He Might Hear You…, [and] (4) John Killens' And Then We Heard the Thunder… If a prize were to be awarded for a 1963 novel we felt these to be the most serious candidates." However, the fiction jury ultimately recommended that no award be given because "no one of them imposes itself upon us as demanding recognition as 'distinguished fiction'…."[4]
  8. ^ The three novels the Pulitzer committee put forth for consideration to the Pulitzer board were: Losing Battles by Eudora Welty; Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow; and The Wheel of Love by Joyce Carol Oates. The board rejected all three and opted for no award.[7]
  9. ^ The fiction jury had unanimously recommended the 1974 award to Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, but the Pulitzer board, which has sole discretion for awarding the prize, made no award.[6]
  10. ^ The fiction jury had recommended the 1977 award to Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through It, but the Pulitzer board, which has sole discretion for awarding the prize, made no award. That same year, however, Alex Haley's iconic family saga Roots was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize.[6]
  11. ^ "A collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating."[8]
  12. ^ "A powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality."[9]
  13. ^ "An inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed."[10]
  14. ^ "An exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart."[12]
  15. ^ "A beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters that follows a grieving boy's entanglement with a small famous painting that has eluded destruction, a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart."[13]
  16. ^ "An imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology."[14]
  17. ^ "A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a "man of two minds" -- and two countries, Vietnam and the United States."[15]
  18. ^ "For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America."[16]
  19. ^ "A generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love."[17]
  20. ^ "An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them."[18]
  21. ^ "A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption."[19]
  22. ^ "A majestic, polyphonic novel about a community’s efforts to halt the proposed displacement and elimination of several Native American tribes in the 1950s, rendered with dexterity and imagination."[20]
  23. ^ "A mordant, linguistically deft historical novel about the ambiguities of the Jewish American experience, presenting ideas and disputes as volatile as its tightly-wound plot."[21]


  1. ^ "1917 Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  2. ^ a b c "Pulitzer Prize for the Novel". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  3. ^ a b Fischer, Erika J.; Fischer, Heinz D., eds. (2007). Chronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction: Discussions, Decisions and Documents. Munich, Germany: K. G. Saur Verlag. pp. 3–11. ISBN 978-3-598-30191-9. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hohenberg, John (1974). The Pulitzer Prizes: A History of the Awards in Books, Drama, Music, and Journalism, Based on the Private Files Over Six Decades. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 55, 143–44, 198, 204, 258. ISBN 0231038879.
  5. ^ McDowell, Edwin (1984-05-11). "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  6. ^ a b c McDowell, Edwin. "PUBLISHING: PULITZER CONTROVERSIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-04-19. [I]n 1941, after both the jury and the board voted to give the fiction prize to Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia and ex-officio chairman of the board, forced the board to change its vote because he found the book offensive.
  7. ^ Fischer, Heinz Dietrich; Fischer, Erika J. (1997). Novel/Fiction Awards 1917–1994: From Pearl S. Buck and Margaret Mitchell to Ernest Hemingway and John Updike. The Pulitzer Prize Archive. Vol. 10 (in part D, "Belles Lettres"). München: K.G. Saur. pp. LX–LXI. ISBN 9783110972115. OCLC 811400780.
  8. ^ "2009 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  9. ^ "2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  10. ^ "2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  11. ^ "2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  12. ^ "2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  13. ^ "2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  14. ^ "2015 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  15. ^ "2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  16. ^ "2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  17. ^ "2018 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  18. ^ "2019 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  19. ^ "2020 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  20. ^ "2021 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  21. ^ "2022 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes ( Retrieved 9 May 2022.