Since receiving notification that the Peter White Public Library is one of five libraries in the United States receiving the National Medal for Library Service in 2010, awards have been on our minds. Annual book awards can lead to some prize reads.
The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to books in a number of categories. This year's fiction prize went to Paul Harding for his book Tinkers. Better known as drummer for the band Cold Water Flat, his debut novel centers on George Washington Crosby as he is dying in his New England home surrounded by his family. Family history and the grandfather's memories weave in and out to create a picture of the past.
The Pulitzer Prize for history goes to Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed. The author has been a professional investment manager for 25 years and has also worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He has degrees in economics from Harvard and Cambridge universities. Ahamed traces the current economic crisis back to what he identifies as its roots from the liquidity crisis of 1914 and through World War II. He uses the lives and careers of four bankers to personalize the tale of how financial decisions and policy can affect the world for 100 years.
The Dead Hand by David Hoffman is the winner of the Pulitzer for nonfiction. The title refers to a sophisticated semi-automatic defense plan developed by the Soviet Union's military. If the Kremlin was destroyed by a nuclear explosion, the automated system would send a number of nuclear SS-18s to targets in western Europe and the U.S. Hoffman also details germ warfare experimentation that was undertaken, against all international laws, during this period. The author is a contributing editor for the Washington Post and has over 30 years of journalism experience.
Sherman Alexie received the Faulkner Award for Fiction and the National Book Award for his War Dances. Alexie's life reads like an exciting novel. He was born with water on the brain and was not expected to survive surgery at the age of 6 months. He did survive, with severe side effects, and set his sights on becoming a medical doctor. Unfortunately, he was prone to fainting in anatomy classes and needed a new direction. A poetry workshop led to his writing career. "War Dances" is a compilation of short stories and poetry. Reviewers suggest that readers unfamiliar with Alexie's work might want to also read "The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
Mystery lovers are familiar with the Edgar Allan Poe Awards. To win an Edgar is the mystery writer's highest honor. John Hart always wanted to be a writer, but life kept getting in his way. He has found success with his third novel, The Last Child. The Edgar award winner for best novel is the story of the Merrimon family. Johnny and his twin sister, Alyssa, lived a mundane life until Alyssa was snatched. Johnny is sure he can put his family's life back together - if he can only discover what happened to his sister - in this compelling novel.
The Edgar for Best First Novel was awarded to attorney Stefanie Pintoff. In the Shadow of Gotham is set in 1905 and combines fiction with real-life events and history. Pintoff's hero is suburban police officer Simon Ziele. This novel combines criminal science and the seamy side of New York City in the first of a series the author promises will follow.
Other award-winning books can be found at the PWPL website www.pwpl.info under the Books and Blogs tab. Click on Book Links for other lists of award winning books and recommended titles.
- Pam Christensen