Starz network recently ran the 2017 documentary, The Pulitzer at 100. Its 90 minutes is made up of asynchronous blocks describing Pulitzer’s immigration to America, yellow journalism vs journalism-as-academic-discipline, winners’ reflections on career effects, and dramatic readings, photos, and musical samplings from past winning works. The documentary assumes a cursory knowledge of the writing prize, but beyond that does give a sufficient survey of the institution (albeit an over self-congratulatory one).
One non-fiction highlight was the reference to Sheri Fink’s article about the deaths at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Juno Diaz’s commentary was another high point. This week, he happens to have an arresting essay in the New Yorker about being raped as a child and its effects on his life, relationships, and writing.
In sum, while writing prizes are somewhat arbitrary and limiting by nature of the temporal structure (genius is not meted out equally each year, but prizes are), retrospectives such as this one can be both a reminder of classic works worth a revisit, and as a means of discovering something new.