The Book Lists

In my first semester of grad school, a prof, the most intimidating prof the KU Religious Studies department had to offer at that time, asked the class whether we had read a particular novel (I don't remember which). None of us had. He sneered. "How can you consider yourselves well-read Americans if you haven't read [my favorite novel]?!" To this day, I wish I had answered back, "Have you ever read Delta Wedding? Or The Optimist's Daughter? Or even 'A Worn Path'? How can you consider yourself a well-read American if you've read nothing by Eudora Welty?! Jackass." (Perhaps it would be relevant to point out that "A Worn Path" was the short story that sent me in the direction of majoring in English and my senior thesis was a comparison of Delta Wedding and The Optimist's Daughter.

Obviously the conceit that one has to have read a set list of books to qualify as "well read" is arbitrary and ridiculous. No list will adequately encompass the full experience of fiction available. But I love a hopeless challenge, so with that in mind, I present the three lists that more or less govern my life: the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Book Award (fiction only), and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I'm not reading in any particular order, or list by list. I jump around as it suits me, and skip what I like. (Sorry, Pulitzer people, but I have no desire to read The Road or The Hours.) And I frequently jump off the lists as need or desire arises. In fact the serious under-representation of people who aren't European men makes jumping off these lists from time to time a necessity. Plus, if I told my book group that I only want to read books from these lists from now on, they would probably start "forgetting" to tell me where the meetings are.

But when in doubt, I return to the lists.

Nobel Prize in Literature
2012 Mo Yan
2011 Tomas Tranströmer
2010 Mario Vargas Llosa
2009 Herta Müller
2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
2007 Doris Lessing
2006 Orhan Pamuk
2005 Harold Pinter
2004 Elfriede Jelinek
2003 John M. Coetzee
2002 Imre Kertész
2001 Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
2000 Gao Xingjian
1999 Günter Grass
1998 José Saramago
1997 Dario Fo
1996 Wislawa Szymborska
1995 Seamus Heaney
1994 Kenzaburo Oe
1993 Toni Morrison
1992 Derek Walcott
1991 Nadine Gordimer
1990 Octavio Paz
1989 Camilo José Cela
1988 Naguib Mahfouz
1987 Joseph Brodsky
1986 Wole Soyinka
1985 Claude Simon
1984 Jaroslav Seifert
1983 William Golding
1982 Gabriel García Márquez
1981 Elias Canetti
1980 Czeslaw Milosz
1979 Odysseus Elytis
1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer
1977 Vicente Aleixandre
1976 Saul Bellow
1975 Eugenio Montale
1974 Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson
1973 Patrick White
1972 Heinrich Böll
1971 Pablo Neruda
1970 Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
1969 Samuel Beckett
1968 Yasunari Kawabata
1967 Miguel Angel Asturias
1966 Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Nelly Sachs
1965 Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov
1964 Jean-Paul Sartre
1963 Giorgos Seferis
1962 John Steinbeck
1961 Ivo Andric
1960 Saint-John Perse
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo
1958 Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
1957 Albert Camus
1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez
1955 Halldór Kiljan Laxness
1954 Ernest Miller Hemingway
1953 Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
1952 François Mauriac
1951 Pär Fabian Lagerkvist
1950 Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell
1949 William Faulkner
1948 Thomas Stearns Eliot
1947 André Paul Guillaume Gide
1946 Hermann Hesse
1945 Gabriela Mistral
1944 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
1943 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1942 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1941 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1940 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1938 Pearl Buck
1937 Roger Martin du Gard
1936 Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
1935 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1934 Luigi Pirandello
1933 Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin
1932 John Galsworthy
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1930 Sinclair Lewis
1929 Thomas Mann
1928 Sigrid Undset
1927 Henri Bergson
1926 Grazia Deledda
1925 George Bernard Shaw
1924 Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont
1923 William Butler Yeats
1922 Jacinto Benavente
1921 Anatole France
1920 Knut Pedersen Hamsun
1919 Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler
1918 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1917 Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan
1916 Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam
1915 Romain Rolland
1914 No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1913 Rabindranath Tagore
1912 Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann
1911 Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck
1910 Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse
1909 Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf
1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken
1907 Rudyard Kipling
1906 Giosuè Carducci
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz
1904 Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray y Eizaguirre
1903 Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson
1902 Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen
1901 Sully Prudhomme

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
2011 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Alfred A.. Knopf)
2010 Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)
2009 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead Books)
2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf)
2006 March by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar)
2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Amistad/ HarperCollins)
2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar)
2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Alfred A. Knopf)
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (Random House)
2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin)
1999 The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
1998 American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)
1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (Crown)
1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford (Alfred A. Knopf)
1995 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Viking)
1994 The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Charles Scribner's Sons)
1993 A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler (Henry Holt)
1992 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Alfred A. Knopf)
1991 Rabbit At Rest by John Updike (Alfred A. Knopf)
1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos (Farrar)
1989 Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Alfred A. Knopf)
1988 Beloved by Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)
1987 A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (Alfred A. Knopf)
1986 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster)
1985 Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie (Random House)
1984 Ironweed by William Kennedy (Viking)
1983 The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace)
1982 Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike (Knopf)
1981 A Confederacy of Dunces by the late John Kennedy Toole (a posthumous publication) (Louisiana State U. Press)
1980 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (Little)
1979 The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (Knopf)
1978 Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson (Atlantic Monthly Press)
1977 (No Award)
1976 Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow (Viking)
1975 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (McKay)
1974 (No Award)
1973 The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (Random)
1972 Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (Doubleday)
1971 (No Award)
1970 Collected Stories by Jean Stafford (Farrar)
1969 House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (Harper)
1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (Random)
1967 The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Farrar)
1966 Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (Harcourt)
1965 The Keepers Of The House by Shirley Ann Grau (Random)
1964 (No Award)
1963 The Reivers by William Faulkner (Random)
1962 The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor (Little)
1961 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Lippincott)
1960 Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Doubleday)
1959 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor (Doubleday)
1958 A Death In The Family by the late James Agee (a posthumous publication) (McDowell, Obolensky)
1957 (No Award)
1956 Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (World)
1955 A Fable by William Faulkner (Random)
1954 (No Award)
1953 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner)
1952 The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (Doubleday)
1951 The Town by Conrad Richter (Knopf)
1950 The Way West by A. B. Guthrie (Sloane)
1949 Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens (Harcourt)
1948 Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener (Macmillan)
National Book Award for Fiction 
1950: The Man With The Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
1951: The Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner
1952: From Here to Eternity by James Jones
1953: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
1954: The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
1956: Ten North Frederick by John O'Hara
1957: The Field of Vision by Wright Morris
1958: The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
1959: The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
1960: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
1961: The Waters of Kronos by Conrad Richter
1962: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
1963: Morte D'Urban by J.F. Powers
1964: The Centaur by John Updike
1965: Herzog by Saul Bellow
1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
1968: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
1969: Steps by Jerzy Kosinski
1970: Them by Joyce Carol Oates
1971: Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow
1972: The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor
1973: Chimera by John Barth
Augustus by John Williams
1974: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
1975: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
1976: JR by William Gaddis
1977: The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
1978: Blood Tie by Mary Lee Settle
1979: Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien

1984: Victory over Japan: A Book of Stories by Ellen Gilchrist
1985: White Noise by Don DeLillo
1986: World's Fair by E. L. Doctorow
1987: Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann
1988: Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
1989: Spartina by John Casey
1990: Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
1991: Mating by Norman Rush
1992: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
1993: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
1994: A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
1995: Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth
1996: Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andrea Barrett
1997: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
1998: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
1999: Waiting by Ha Jin
2000: In America by Susan Sontag
2001: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
2002: Three Junes by Julia Glass
2003: The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
2004: The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
2005: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
2006: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
2007: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
2008: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
2009: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
2010: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
2011: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Fiction (Hardcover)
1980: Sophie's Choice by William Styron
1981: Plains Song by Wright Morris
1982: Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Fiction (Paperback)
1980: The World According to Garp by John Irving
1981: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
1982: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
1983: Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
First Novel
1980: Birdy by William Wharton
1981: Sister Wolf by Ann Arensberg
1982: Dale Loves Sophie to Death by Robb Forman Dew
1983: The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
First Work of Fiction
1984: Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
1985: Easy in the Islands by Bob Shacochis

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