Critical Mass

Early Week Kudos


Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won this year’s NBCC award in fiction, has also won the Pulitzer in fiction.

NBCC member Gregg Barrios saw it coming in his review in the San Antonio Express-News:

Does Díaz pull this off? Is a degree in comic book heroes and villains mandatory? Is the ability to translate urban Spanglish glossolalia required? Does the reader need to have a thumb-worn copy of Dominican History for Dummies at the ready?

While this novel may leave some reeling, for the more adventuresome, Díaz’s geek tragicomedy will both delight and astonish — with each additional reading.

This is the kind of writing from which Pulitzers are forged.”

Diaz joins Marilynne Robinson (“Gilead”) and Edward P. Jones (“The Known World”) as joint NBCC-Pulitzer awardees in fiction. Daniel Walker Howe, an NBCC finalist in nonfiction this year for “What Hath God Wrought,” won the Pulitzer in history. And Alex Ross, whose “The Rest Is Noise” won this year’s NBCC award in criticism, was a finalist in nonfiction.

And meanwhile, NBCC member Tony D’Souza has just been awarded a Guggenheim Foundation grant in fiction. (He wrote here about J.M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace” last week.)