Pulitzer Prize

Press-Democrat Staff on Surviving the Fires and Winning Pulitzer

The North Bay fires were national news mere hours after they ignited early in the morning of October 9. The dawn sun, glimmering wanly through the pall of smoke cloaking Sonoma and Napa Counties, illuminated the smoldering ruins of hundreds of homes. No relief was imminent: the hot, dry winds that had sent the flames howling from Calistoga to Santa Rosa continued unabated, and the forecast was for more of the same.  This was a natural catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina—possibly worse.

Debugging the Novel

When Vikram Chandra started writing his best-selling novel, Sacred Games (2006), he knew it was going to be a big book. And he was right: All told, the novel is 947 pages, includes over 100 characters, and spans a 60-year timeline. To make the writing process smoother, Chandra set out to find a software program he could use to store, organize, and keep track of the details of his novel. But no off-the-shelf program met his needs.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal

In describing  poet Tracy K. Smith’s work, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says: “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Hayden named Smith  the 22 nd U.S. poet laureate this Wednesday. 

Shane Bauer Puts the Teeth Back Into Undercover Reporting

Seven hours before Shane Bauer was to start his 6 a.m. shift at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana, his wife shook him awake. “Something’s wrong,” she said. His colleague from the magazine Mother Jones, James West, hadn’t returned from shooting nighttime footage of the private prison where Bauer worked. Had officials there discovered that Bauer wasn’t just a regular guard, but an investigative reporter from San Francisco?

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Filmmaker Dan Krauss Documents Ethical Quagmires

Moral complexity often rests at the heart of truly great films, and Dan Krauss has consistently gravitated toward documenting powerful stories on dubious ethical ground, where we see shades of grey, rather than sharp black and white.

Vietnam Stories: Writing the “Disremembered” Histories of War

When telling a story, and it doesn’t matter if that story is long or short, fiction or nonfiction, the marginalized writer must be defiant.

So says writer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Defiant is not the first descriptor that comes to mind for this particular writer, a Vietnamese refugee and UC Berkeley alumnus, who in fall 2016 wore a royal blue suit, purple tie, and orange socks at the Pulitzer awards banquet in Manhattan to accept the Fiction award for his debut novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015). Flamboyant, maybe. Defiant, no.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.
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