Pulitzer Prizes recognize authors, journalist originally from Kansas

photo by: AP File Photo

Signage for the Pulitzer Prizes is pictured in this file photo from Monday April 16, 2018, at Columbia University in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Two authors and a freelance journalist from Kansas were recognized by judges of some of the most prestigious writing awards in the country on Monday.

Anne Boyer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, while Ben Lerner was shortlisted as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Both Boyer and Lerner are originally from Topeka.

Boyer received the award for her book “The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care.” The memoir focuses on Boyer’s breast cancer diagnosis and shines a light on the culture and business of health care for cancer patients.

The book is an “elegant and unforgettable narrative about the brutality of illness and the capitalism of cancer care in America,” the Pulitzer Prizes said on its website.

Boyer lives in Kansas City, Mo., and is an associate professor of creative writing at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Lerner was recognized for his novel “The Topeka School,” which places Lerner’s recurring protagonist, a writer named Adam Gordon, into a school environment reminiscent of Lerner’s own years at Topeka High School in the 1990s. But it also touches on current issues, such as exploring the state of white male anger and identity.

The Pulitzer Prizes called the novel a “brilliant and ambitious exploration of language, family and American identity as exemplified by the life of a Midwestern high school debate champion.”

Lerner now lives in New York City and works as an English professor for Brooklyn College. His parents, clinical psychologists Harriet and Steve Lerner, both currently live and work in Lawrence. His mother is also an acclaimed author.

Lerner told the Journal-World in an email that he was honored his work was recognized by the awards.

“And I’m particularly pleased to see my fellow Kansan Anne Boyer won the prize in nonfiction,” Lerner said. “The Topekan Renaissance continues!”

Another Kansan, Chloe Cooper Jones, was also recognized by the Pulitzer Prizes for her work in journalism. Cooper Jones was named a finalist for the feature writing award for her article in The Verge about Ramsey Orta, the man who recorded the New York Police Department’s killing of Eric Garner.

Cooper Jones, a freelance journalist, is originally from Tonganoxie but now lives in New York City. She is a graduate of Lawrence High School and the University of Kansas, where she earned a master’s degree in creative writing in 2009 and a doctorate in English in 2012, according to the university.

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