List of Books by, or About, People African Descent to Win Pulitzer Prizes (includes Finalists)

Pulitzer Prize Medal

Since 1917 the Pulitzer Prize has honored excellence in journalism and the arts. The first award was presented in 1918. The Prize recognizes American authors in six “Letters and Drama” categories; Biography/Autobiography, Fiction, General Non-Fiction, History, Poetry, and Drama (technically not a book award, but plays are all available as books and have been included here).

The first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize in any of the above categories was Gwendolyn Brooks who received the award for poetry for her collection Annie Allen in 1950.


3 Books were Finalists or Winners of Pulitzer Prizes in 2021

Winner - History

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America
by Marcia Chatelain

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $28.95
    Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781631493942
    Imprint: Liveright Publishing Corporation
    Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
    Parent Company: Liveright Publishing Corporation
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    Read a Description of Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America


    Book Description: 

    New York Times, "Times Critics Top Books of 2020": "Smart and capacious history…. A cautionary tale about relying on the private sector to provide what the public needs." - Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

    From civil rights to Ferguson, Franchise reveals the untold history of how fast food became one of the greatest generators of black wealth in America.

    Franchise is a stunning story of post-1960s urban black America, a tale of triumph and good intentions, but also of tragic consequences for race relations, poverty, and dietary health. Marcia Chatelain has done superb research and writes as a great storyteller. This is an important book, showing that civil rights successes led to burgers under black ownership as much as ballots for social change. Chatelain makes us see black capitalism in all its mixed blessings.—David W. Blight, Yale University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom



    Winner - Biography

    The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
    by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $35.00
      Format: Hardcover, 640 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      ISBN13: 9781631491665
      Imprint: Liveright Publishing Corporation
      Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
      Parent Company: Liveright Publishing Corporation
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      Read a Description of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X


      Book Description: 

      “Les Payne’s The Dead Are Arising is a brilliant and indispensable depiction of the life of Malcolm X. Payne, one of America’s most acclaimed journalists, is at the very top of his game in these pages, using the fruits of decades of interviews to bring new information and perspectives on one of the most fascinating, and often misunderstood, figures in American history.’ —Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of history, Harvard University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

      Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X—all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world. His goal was ambitious: to transform what would become over a hundred hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction.

      The result is this historic biography that conjures a never-before-seen world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase Malcolm X used when he saw his Hartford followers stir with purpose, as if the dead were truly arising, to overcome the obstacles of racism. Setting Malcolm’s life not only within the Nation of Islam but against the larger backdrop of American history, the book traces the life of one of the twentieth century’s most politically relevant figures "from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary."

      In tracing Malcolm X’s life from his Nebraska birth in 1925 to his Harlem assassination in 1965, Payne provides searing vignettes culled from Malcolm’s Depression-era youth, describing the influence of his Garveyite parents: his father, Earl, a circuit-riding preacher who was run over by a street car in Lansing, Michigan, in 1929, and his mother, Louise, who continued to instill black pride in her children after Earl’s death. Filling each chapter with resonant drama, Payne follows Malcolm’s exploits as a petty criminal in Boston and Harlem in the 1930s and early 1940s to his religious awakening and conversion to the Nation of Islam in a Massachusetts penitentiary.

      With a biographer’s unwavering determination, Payne corrects the historical record and delivers extraordinary revelations—from the unmasking of the mysterious NOI founder “Fard Muhammad,” who preceded Elijah Muhammad; to a hair-rising scene, conveyed in cinematic detail, of Malcolm and Minister Jeremiah X Shabazz’s 1961 clandestine meeting with the KKK; to a minute-by-minute account of Malcolm X’s murder at the Audubon Ballroom.

      Introduced by Payne’s daughter and primary researcher, Tamara Payne, who, following her father’s death, heroically completed the biography, The Dead Are Arising is a penetrating and riveting work that affirms the centrality of Malcolm X to the African American freedom struggle.





      Finalist - Fiction

      Telephone
      by Percival Everett

        Publication Date:
        List Price: $16.00
        Format: Paperback, 224 pages
        Classification: Fiction
        ISBN13: 9781644450222
        Imprint: Graywolf Press
        Publisher: Graywolf Press
        Parent Company: Graywolf Press
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        Read a Description of Telephone


        Book Description: 

        An astonishing new novel of loss and grief from “one of our culture’s preeminent novelists” —Los Angeles Times

        Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area—the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon—he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches.

        After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter’s slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he’s ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission.

        A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.




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