Pulitzer on the Road: American Stories Then & Now
In collaboration with The Library Foundation and The Pulitzer Prizes, PEN Austin presented author Hernan Diaz and journalist Eli Saslow to discuss the craft of storytelling in different genres through their Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism and historical fiction. The conversation was moderated by Marjorie Miller, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.
Diaz and Saslow explored the crucial aspect of truth in journalism and historical fiction; American loneliness and omnipotence; whose narratives get told and prioritized, and how they bring their “characters” to life on the page.
The event was followed by a reception.
ELI SASLOW — In his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage for The Washington Post, and now for The New York Times, Eli Saslow, “one of the great journalists in America,” covers the impact of some of the most pressing national issues on individual lives, from racism and poverty to addiction and school shootings. Saslow’s book, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, charts the rise of white nationalism through the experiences of one person who abandoned everything he was taught to believe. Of the book, Ibram X Kendi says, “The story of Derek Black is the human being at his gutsy, self-reflecting, revolutionary best, told by one of America’s best storytellers at his very best….This book is an inspiration.” Saslow’s latest book is Voices from the Pandemic: Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience, an extension of his oral history project for The Washington Post of the same name. Drawn from interviews with a cross-section of Americans, it documents a country struggling in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Saslow has twice won the Pulitzer Prize: first in 2014 for Explanatory Reporting for a yearlong series about America’s food stamp program for The Washington Post, later collected into the book American Hunger; and in 2023 for Features for his evocative coverage of homelessness, addiction, and inequality. He is also a screenwriter, most recently of the movie Four Good Days, starring Glen Close and Mila Kunis.
HERNAN DIAZ — is the Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Trust. Translated into more than thirty languages, Trust also received the Kirkus Prize, was longlisted for the Booker Prize, and was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and Time magazine, and it was one of The New Yorker’s 12 Essential Reads of the Year and one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year. Trust is currently being developed as a limited series for HBO. Diaz’s previous novel, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and it won the William Saroyan International Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. He has received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
MAJORIE MILLER, formerly vice president and global enterprise editor at The Associated Press, has been administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes since April, 2022.
Miller has had a long and celebrated career in journalism. She was a reporter in the United States and a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe, before becoming an editor. She was the Times’s Foreign Editor when the paper won a Pulitzer Prize for Russia coverage and was a finalist for Iraq War coverage. She also wrote editorials on international affairs.
In Partnership with