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LSU Press’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Tradition

Claudia Emerson’s Pulitzer Prize for Late Wife is the fourth Pulitzer win for LSU Press and continues an impressive streak that spans three decades. LSU Press’s first Pulitzer came in 1981, when John Kennedy Toole’s novel A Confederacy of Dunces became the first book published by a university press to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Published more than a decade after Toole’s suicide, and after rejection by countless New York publishing houses, A Confederacy of Dunces remains one of LSU Press’s bestselling titles. Today, more than two million copies of the book are in print worldwide, in 22 languages, including a 20th anniversary edition with a new introduction by New Orleans writer and LSU professor Andre Codrescu and a large print edition.

In 1986, Virginia native Henry Taylor’sThe Flying Change won the Press’s second Pulitzer and its first in poetry. LSU Press remains the only university press to have won Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and poetry. The Flying Change explores the possibilities inherent in both the trivial and the grave and includes not only funny stories called “snapshots” but also extended meditations on change and death. Taylor, a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a recent winner of the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, continues to publish with LSU Press. His eighth collection, Crooked Run, appeared in 2006.

When Lisel Mueller’s Alive Together: New and Selected Poems was released by LSU Press in 1996, Booklist said that “her marvelous, lyric talent deserves much wider acclaim.”  This acclaim came in full when the book won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.  A German native who became a U. S. citizen, Mueller grew up in Nazi Germany and moved to Indiana when she was 15.  Representing more than 35 years of her writing life, Alive Together explores Mueller’s cultural and family history and reflects her fascination with music and language. In 2002, Mueller continued her prize-winning ways by earning the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious and largest literary awards in the English language.

In the years since A Confederacy of Dunces thrust LSU Press into the national spotlight, its books and authors have garnered more than 400 national and international accolades. Readers in search of the next award-winning book — perhaps even the next Pulitzer honoree — need look no further than the latest LSU Press catalog to find literary treasures.

Barbara Outland | LSU Press | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Summer 2007

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