The decision to award the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to Louise Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the decision for Poetry to Natalie Diaz, a mojave registered with the Gila River Indian Tribe, can be read as an additional small compensation. belated to a forgotten world (the first native to be awarded in fiction was the great Scott Momaday, in 1969).

Erdrich and Diaz belong to two generations of Native American descent far from each other – Louise born on June 7, 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota; Natalie on September 4, 1978 in Needles, California – but they share the same urgency to tell the pain that the wounds of the past continue to cause in their communities.

The Night Watchman (2020) by award-winning former Louise Erdrich, which Feltrinelli will publish in Italy next autumn, belongs to the trend of historical fiction. The novel set in the period infamously known as the Termination Era: an era between the 1940s and 1960s, during which the American government launched a series of policies with the aim of assimilating the natives to the customs of society American. The protagonists of the book, ordinary men and women, try to oppose the umpteenth subtraction of a part of their land, which they consider sacred (one of the protagonists, Thomas Wazhushk, inspired by Erdrich’s grandfather).

Natalie Diaz, awarded for the collection Postcolonial Love Poem (2020), starts from the same background, the massacre of indigenous peoples, to reach a more intimate dimension: in the background of the story personal defeats and desires come alive. An even more prestigious recognition, in the year in which the role of graduate poet of the USA occupied by the first native, Joy Harjo.

It was inevitable that 2020, marked in America not only by the pandemic but also by the protests of the Black Lives Matter Movement, left a trace in the sensitivity of the Pulitzer jury, which reached its 105th edition this year. Darnella Frazier, the teenager who films George Floyd’s death on a Minneapolis street on May 25 last year, received a special commendation (Special Citation), a sign that American society, and not just the cultural establishment, ready to come to terms with the history of oppression she carries on her shoulders.

In the twenty-two categories of Pulitzer 2021, announced yesterday but originally scheduled for April 19, the racial theme was dominant, together with the tale of the pandemic from Covid-19. The Associated Press won two Pulitzers for photography, as it recounted the protests of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the price the older section of the population had to pay as a result of the pandemic. The New York Times won in the prestigious section of the Public Service, the only one for which the silver medal covered by a layer of 24-karat gold was foreseen (the other winners receive $ 15,000 and a certificate), while the Star Tribune of Minneapolis won in the Breaking News Reporting section, for coverage of Floyd’s murder. Among the award-winning publications: Tampa Bay Times, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic.

June 11, 2021 (change June 11, 2021 | 22:34)



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