West Bloomfield Township Public Library
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Awards - Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists (2021)

Read the finalists and winners for the Pulitzer Prizes for excellence in fiction, history, biography, poetry, and non-fiction.

The night watchman : a novel by Louise Erdrich

Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new 'emancipation' bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn't about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a 'termination' that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans 'for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run'?

A registry of my passage upon the earth : stories by Daniel (Daniel Philippe) Mason

Collects nine of the author's tales, including National Magazine Award- and Pushcart Prize-winning stories

Franchise : the golden arches in black America by Marcia Chatelain

"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. Often blamed for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among black Americans, fast food restaurantslike McDonald's have long symbolized capitalism's villainous effects on our nation's most vulnerable communities. But how did fast food restaurants so thoroughly saturate black neighborhoods in the first place? In Franchise, acclaimed historian Marcia Chatelain uncovers a surprising history of cooperation among fast food companies, black capitalists, and civil rights leaders, who- in the troubled years after King's assassination- believed they found an economic answer to the problem of racial inequality.With the discourse of social welfare all but evaporated, federal programs under presidents Johnson and Nixon promoted a new vision for racial justice: that the franchising of fast food restaurants, by black citizens in their own neighborhoods, could finally improve the quality of black life. Synthesizing years of research, Franchise tells a troubling success story of an industry that blossomed the very moment a freedom movement began to whither"--

The deviant's war : the homosexual vs. the United States of America by Eric Cervini

Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, Eric Cervini's The Deviant's War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. It traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.

The dead are arising : the life of Malcolm X by Les Payne

"An epic biography of Malcolm X finally emerges, drawing on hundreds of hours of the author's interviews, rewriting much of the known narrative. 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 Nationof 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 hisNebraska 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"--

Red comet : the short life and blazing art of Sylvia Plath by Heather L Clark

"An engrossing new biography of Sylvia Plath focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual growth and achievement, restoring the vivid creative woman behind the longtime Plath myths perpetuated by a pathology-based approach to her life and art. With a wealth of never-before-accessed materials, Heather Clark here brings to life the brilliant daughter of Wellesley, MA who had poetic ambition from a very young age, and was an accomplished, published writer of poems and stories before she became the star English student at Smith College. Determined not to read Plath's work as if her every act, from childhood on, was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark presents new materials about Plath's scientist father, her juvenile writings, and her psychiatric treatment, and evokes a culture in transition in the mid-twentieth century, in the shadow of the atom bomb and the Holocaust, as she explores Sylvia's world: her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her conflicted ties to her well-meaning, widowed mother; her troubles at the hands of an unenlightened mental health industry; her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes, a marriage of true minds that would change the course of poetry in English; and much more. Clark's clear-eyed sympathy for Hughes, his lover Assia Wevill, and other demonized players in the arena of Plath's suicide promotes a deeper understanding of her final days, with their outpouring of first-rate poems. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark's meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over"--

A treatise on stars by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

"Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's A Treatise on Stars extends the intensely phenomenological poetics of 'The Star Field' in Empathy, which appeared over thirty years ago. The book is structured as a continuous enfolding of poems, each made up of numbered serial parts, their presiding poetic consciousness moving from the desert arroyo of New Mexico to the white-tailed deer of Maine and between conversations with daughter, husband, friends, pets (corn snake and poodle), and a woman, or star-visitor, beneath a tree who calls 'any spirit in matter ... star-walking.' These are poems of deep listening and patient waiting, open to the channeling of daily experience, to gestalt and angel, dolphins and extraterrestrials. Here, family is a type of constellation and 'thoughtis a form of organized light.' All our senses are activated by Berssenbrugge's light absorbing lines, lines that map a geography of interconnected intelligence-interdimensional intelligence-that exists in all sentient objects and sustains us. This is notnew age poetry but poetry for a new age, rigorous of thought and grounded in the physical world where 'days fill with splendor, and earth offers its pristine beauty to an expanding present.'"--

Postcolonial love poem by Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages―bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers―be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.

Wilmington's lie : the murderous coup of 1898 and the rise of white supremacy by David Zucchino

"By 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, was a shining example of a mixed-race community-a bustling port city with a thriving African American middle class and a government made up of Republicans and Populists, including black alderman, police officers, and magistrates. But across the state-and the South-white supremacist Democrats were working to reverse the advances made by former slaves and their progeny. They were plotting to take back the state legislature in the November 8th election and then use a controversial editorial published by black newspaper editor Alexander Manly to trigger a "race riot" to overthrow the elected government in Wilmington. With a coordinated campaign of intimidation and violence, the Democrats sharply curtailed the black vote and stuffed ballot boxes to steal the 1898 mid-term election. Two days later, more than 2,000 heavily armed white nightriders known as Red Shirts swarmed through Wilmington, terrorizing women and children and shooting at least sixty black men dead in the streets. The rebels forced city officials and leading black citizens to flee at gun point while hundreds of local African Americans took refuge in nearby swamps and forests. This brutal insurrection is the only violent overthrow of an elected government inU.S. history. It halted gains made by blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another seventy years. It was not a "race riot" as the events of November 1898 came to be known, but rather a racially-motivated rebellion launched by white supremacists. In Wilmington's Lie, David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper reports, diaries, letters, and official communications to create a gripping narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate, fear, and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history"--

Minor feelings : an Asian American reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

"Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition--ifsuch a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays togetheris Hong's theory of "minor feelings." As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality--when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. With sly humor and a poet's searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche--and of a writer's search to both uncover and speak the truth"--

Yellow Bird : oil, murder, and a woman's search for justice in Indian country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

"When Lissa Yellow Bird was released from prison in 2009, she found her home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, transformed by the Bakken oil boom. In her absence, the landscape had been altered beyond recognition, her tribal government swayed by corporate interests, and her community burdened by a surge in violence and addiction. Three years later, when Lissa learned that a young white oil worker, Kristopher 'KC' Clarke, had disappeared from his reservation worksite, she became particularly concerned. No one knew where Clarke had gone, and no one but his mother was actively looking for him. Unfolding like a gritty mystery, Yellow Bird traces Lissa's steps as she obsessively hunts for clues to Clarke's disappearance. She navigates twoworlds -- that of her own tribe, changed by its newfound wealth, and that of the non-Native oil workers, down on their luck, who have come to find work on the heels of the economic recession. Her pursuit becomes an effort at redemption -- an atonement forher own crimes and a reckoning with generations of trauma. Yellow Bird is both an exquisitely written, masterfully reported story about a search for justice and a remarkable portrait of a complex woman who is smart, funny, eloquent, compassionate, and --when it serves her cause -- manipulative. Ultimately, it is a deep examination of the legacy of systematic violence inflicted on a tribal nation and a tale of extraordinary healing"--
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National Medal Recipient of the National Medal, the nation's highest honor for libraries.