Adam Johnson wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction

Read about the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction here.

And here’s the article:

Alumnus of creative writing program wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction

04/26/2013 02:25 pm

Florida State University’s Department of English is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation. That golden reputation was burnished recently when an alumnus of the department’s creative writing program won one of the most coveted of all literature prizes.

“My time at FSU was very important and formative for me — I was lucky to have an amazing set of teachers and peers, and the support to get a great deal of work done,” Johnson said.

Adam Johnson, who earned a doctorate in creative writing from Florida State’s Department of English in 2001, learned on April 15 that he is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his novel “The Orphan Master’s Son.”

Johnson is now an associate professor of English with an emphasis in creative writing at Stanford University. His novel, published in 2012 by Random House, deals with intertwined themes of propaganda, identity and state power in North Korea. Johnson provides a “riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love,” according to the publisher.

In one of many glowing reviews of the novel, The Washington Post stated that “Adam Johnson has taken the papier-mâché creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable.”

“We are all incredibly proud of Adam for both the artistic achievement of ‘The Orphan Master’s Son’ and for the recognition that this novel has earned,” said Florida State English Professor James Kimbrell, director of the university’s creative writing program. “That it has now garnered a Pulitzer Prize brings us great satisfaction and, no doubt, will inspire FSU creative writing students for generations to come.”

For his part, Johnson said he remembered his time at Florida State, and in Tallahassee, fondly.

“My time at FSU was very important and formative for me — I was lucky to have an amazing set of teachers and peers, and the support to get a great deal of work done,” he said. “I truly found my voice in Tallahassee, and I really do treasure those years: readings at The Warehouse, gathering for workshops, thinking about stories as I rode my bike down the St. Marks Trail.

“I miss you, FSU!”

Florida State English Professor Emeritus Janet Burroway, who served as Johnson’s dissertation director, praised him as “truly talented.” 

“He arrived at FSU with everything he needed: voice, style, command and a prodigious imagination — the Miracle-Gro of imaginations,” said Burroway, who was nominated in 1970 for a Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Buzzards.” “‘Teaching’ him was a matter of asking a few questions and identifying favorite phrases. The only advice I ever gave him, really, was at his dissertation orals when I said, ‘There is no way you can fall short. The only danger is over the top.’”

Robert Olen Butler, Florida State’s Francis Eppes Professor of English, taught Johnson at McNeese State University in Louisiana before joining the faculty at Florida State.

“In the three years I taught Adam in Louisiana, I was particularly struck by his ravenous engagement with life experience,” said Butler, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1993 for a collection of short stories, “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.” “As impressed as I was by his emerging talent in the workshop, it was his avid exploration of everything from cockfighting to zydeco music that spoke to me of his nascent genius.”

The Joseph Pulitzer Medal

FSU’s creative writing program, located within the College of Arts and Sciences, has long been recognized as one of the nation’s best, especially in its graduate programs. In 2007, the program was ranked in the top five doctoral programs in the country by The Atlantic magazine, which also ranked it in the top 10 all around for graduate creative-writing programs.

More recently, FSU’s creative writing program fared well in the 2012 Poets & Writers survey of doctoral programs in creative writing, ranking No. 2 in the nation overall and No. 1 for “Creative Writing Job Placement Rate.”

“We take a great deal of pride in these rankings, especially in a less-than-stellar hiring climate,” Kimbrell said. “This is what happens when you mix exceedingly talented students with faculty who are committed to both the artistic growth of these students and their professional development. You don’t just graduate from Florida State and find yourself on your own; we stick with our students for the long haul, and that has made all the difference.”





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