Today is Pulitzer Day. Columbia University will be holding the ceremonies to honor this year's winners of the Pulitzer Prizes.
My wife asked if I was nervous. No, not nervous; I was at the National Book Award ceremony, when we didn't know the winners in advance. Now I'm mainly worried about how my son will hold up with his godmother, while we are inside, and I'm eager to meet the other writers. But that's not all.
It's a hell of a thing, winning a prize like this. As I've said before, I don't kid myself that I was the only choice; a lot of deserving writers, including the finalists, could easily have won. What I do feel is a sense of validation for my approach to writing. Like, I'm absolutely sure, every other winner and finalist past and present, I believe that scholarly and literary qualities can co-exist in a book, and actually strengthen each other. That marriage of literature and scholarship is the classic sense of letters, the category of Pulitzer that I've been honored with.
The Pulitzer prizes are important not just because they grant recognition to this book or help the career of that struggling author. They matter because they remind us of the importance of letters. For that reason, I've always found them to be exciting. This year, it's a little more than that.
I'm in daunting company now. Which means I'll have to work even harder.