The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is awarded each year to an American author whose book in some way captures the spirit of American life. Early in 2009, I wondered what sort of snapshot of the U.S. one could develop by reading each of this past decade's winners. So I did. And what did America look like in the Aughts?
For adults fond of pictures and art accompanying their reading, there is the graphic novel—what Daniel Clowes calls a "marketing moniker" in his depressingly hilarious 2005 book Ice Haven. "Are comics a valid form of expression?," he asks. "The jury's still out, I'm afraid. There exists for some an uncomfortable impurity in the combination of two forms of picture-writing (i.e. letter shapes that form 'words') while to others it's not that big a deal." The past decade saw abundant excellence in adult comic books. Below are a selection of 10 critics' favorites, volumes which also come with the Alibi seal of approval. In alphabetical order:
What America watched, heard, said, read, ate and died from in the first 10 years of the 2000s
Take a bow, 2000 to 2009 A.D. You’ve given this millennium one hell of a first act to follow. Here in the U.S., the decade brought terrorism, biblical floods and two wars—the sort of hardships we always assumed (or pretended) we were exempt from. We no longer have the luxury of that thinking. Yet the decade also ushered some of our wildest dreams into reality—medical and technological breakthroughs that are redefining life as we know it, and a president whose election changed the very face of politics.
Publishers Weekly Best Selling-Books, Fiction, Hardcover
2009: The Lost Symbol Dan Brown 2008: The Appeal John Grisham 2007: A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini 2006: For One More Day Mitch Albom 2005: The Broker John Grisham 2004: The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown 2003: The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown 2002: The Summons John Grisham 2001: Desecration Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye 2000: The Brethren John Grisham
2009: Pittsburgh Steelers 2008: New York Giants 2007: Indianapolis Colts 2006: Pittsburgh Steelers 2004 and 2005: New England Patriots 2003: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002: New England Patriots 2001: Baltimore Ravens 2000: St. Louis Rams
2009: NASA Ares 1 rocket, netbook, AIDS vaccine 2008: Large Hadron Collider, retail DNA test 2007: iPhone 2006: Nintendo Wii, Sony eBook Reader, Facebook 2005: YouTube 2004: SpaceShipOne, Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, blogging 2003: Toyota Prius, camera phone, MySpace 2002: Segway, Bluetooth wireless headset, Roomba 2001: iPod, XM satellite radio 2000: ASIMO humanoid robot, PET scan
2009: Fearless Taylor Swift 2008: Tha Carter III Lil Wayne 2007: Noel Josh Groban 2006: High School Musical Soundtrack various artists 2005: The Emancipation of Mimi Mariah Carey 2004: Confessions Usher 2003: Get Rich or Die Tryin’ 50 Cent 2002: The Eminem Show Eminem 2001: Hybrid Theory Linkin Park 2000: No Strings Attached 'N Sync
2009: Cheerleaders 2008: Debbie Does Dallas ... Again 2007: Pirates 2006: The Masseuse 2005: 1 Night in Paris 2004: The Fashionistas 2003: Brianna Loves Jenna 2002: Island Fever 2001: Dream Quest 2000: The Devil in Miss Jones 6