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Jennifer Egan's novel "A Visit from the Goon Squad" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday, honored for its "big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed."
Egan, a native of Chicago, has been highly praised for her searching and unconventional narratives about modern angst and identity. Her other novels include "The Invisible Circus," "Look at Me" and "The Keep."
Critics were especially taken with "A Visit From the Goon Squad," with its leaps across time and its experiments with format, notably a long section structured like a power point presentation. Earlier this year, she won the National Book Critics Circle prize.
The play "Clybourne Park" by Bruce Norris, which examines race relations and the effects of modern gentrification, won the drama prize. The work imagines what might have happened to the family that moved out of the house in the fictitious Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park, which is where Lorraine Hansberry's Younger clan is headed by the end of her 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun. Raisin
The Pulitzer for history was awarded to "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery," by Eric Foner. It was cited as "a well orchestrated examination of Lincoln's changing views of slavery, bringing unforeseeable twists and a fresh sense of improbability to a familiar story."
The biography award went to "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow, "a sweeping, authoritative portrait" of Gen. George Washington. Kay Ryan's "The Best of It: New and Selected Poems," won the poetry prize, which was called "a treasure trove of an iconoclastic and joyful mind."
The general nonfiction prize was given to "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," by Siddhartha Mukherjee, while the music prize went to Zhou Long for "Madame White Snake."
Finalists in the fiction category included The Privileges," by Jonathan Dee and "The Surrendered," by Chang-Rae Lee. Jonathan Franzen, whose novel "Freedom" was the most talked about literary novel of 2010, did not make the list.
Finalists for the drama prize included the Broadway-bound "Detroit" by Lisa D'Amour and "A Free Man of Color" by John Guare, which was produced at Lincoln Center.