UI graduate's novel 'The Overstory' earns Pulitzer Prize for fiction

UI graduate's novel 'The Overstory' earns Pulitzer Prize for fiction

It had been 60 years since a University of Illinois alum was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction — Robert Lewis Taylor, from the Class of 1933.

Monday, it happened for a second time, when Richard Powers ('78) received one of writing's highest honors for his 2018 novel, "The Overstory."

It's just the latest honor for the 61-year-old author, a 1989 MacArthur genius grant recipient and 2006 National Book Award winner, whose 12th book was hailed by Pulitzer judges as "an ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them."

The Pulitzer comes with a $15,000 prize.

Powers is an UI emeritus professor of English and one-time Beckman Institute adjunct. He earned two degrees from the UI — both in English, in 1978 and '80 — after originally enrolling as a physics major.

Monday marked the sixth time in nine years a UI grad has won a Pulitzer. Previously honored for combined efforts:

— Leonora LaPeter Anton (2016, investigative reporting, Tampa Bay Times).

— Julie Westfall (2016, breaking-news reporting, Los Angeles Times).

— Nathaniel Lash (2014, local reporting, Tampa Bay Times).

— Glenn Howatt (2013, local reporting, Minneapolis Star Tribune).

— John Kim (2011, local reporting, Chicago Sun-Times).

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