The Pulitzer Prize winners were finally announced yesterday (May 9th), with so many incredible journalists being named, as well as some genius book authors. The winner for the coveted prize for Fiction went to Joshua Cohen’s sixth novel The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family.

The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen / Image credit: Fitzcarraldo Editions

The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen / Image credit: Fitzcarraldo Editions

Released in June 2021 through New York Review Books (US) and Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK), the book beat finalists Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman and Palmares by Gayl Jones. 

Pulitzer wrote: “A mordant, linguistically deft historical novel about the ambiguities of the Jewish-American experience, presenting ideas and disputes as volatile as its tightly-wound plot.”

This brilliantly funny novel tells the story of a Jewish historian named Ruben Blum living in New York at the turn of the 1960s. Don’t get it twisted, though; he’s a Jewish historian, but he is far from an expert in Jewish history. Despite this, he is forced onto a hiring committee to look over the application of a scholar from Israel who specialises in the Spanish Inquisition. Exiled from his homeland, the mysterious Benzion Netanyahu brings along his family, and Blum is expected to host these new guests - which he does so, albeit grudgingly. What follows is a new challenge for Blum; facing the realities of his culture with themes of Zionism, the diaspora and the Holocaust.

While it is a fictional account, Benzoin Netanyahu and his family are actually real people. Benzoin was an activist in Revisionist Zionism before his later interest in Medieval Spanish Jewry.

New Jersey-born author Cohen - whose other books include Moving Kings, Book of Numbers, Witz, A Heaven of Others, and Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto - also won the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for his latest work.

MORE: World Book Day 2022: ‘Little Box of Books’ sheds light on lack of representation and accessibility

Meanwhile, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to James Ijames’ play Fat Ham, while frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss landed the Poetry prize, and the winning Biography was Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist's Memoir of the Jim Crow South by the late Winfred Rembert as told to Erin I. Kelly.

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