The Orphan Master's Son, a novel by American Adam Johnson about propaganda and state power in North Korea, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The win for the widely acclaimed novel in 2013 follows a year in which the Pulitzer committee did not award a prize for fiction. The Pulitzer committee said in 2012 that it did not consider any of the contenders worthy of the $10,000 US prize.


Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer for fiction for The Orphan Master's Son. Random House

This year's jury cited The Orphan Master's Son as an "exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart."

Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University and his fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House and Granta magazines. Based in San Francisco, he has written a short story collection and an earlier novel, Parasites Like Us.

Other Pulitzer Prizes for arts announced Monday:

  • Drama: Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar.
  • History: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall (Random House).
  • Biography: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (Crown).
  • Poetry: Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds (Alfred A. Knopf).
  • Nonfiction: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (Harper)  
  • Music: Partita for 8 Voices by Caroline Shaw.

Disgraced,  a play about a successful Pakistani-American lawyer pondering why he hides his Muslim heritage as a dinner party at his house careens out of control, debuted at the American Theatre Company in Chicago in 2012.

The Pulitzer Prize board said it beat out drama contenders such as Rapture, Blister, Burn, by Gina Gionfriddo and 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog.  

Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices was written for vocal group Roomful of Teeth and released on their self-titled debut album.

"Partita is a simple piece, Born of a love of surface and structure, of the human voice, of dancing and tired ligaments, of music ..." ," Shaw says of the work.  It is the first Pulitzer for Shaw and follows two years in which opera compositions took the prize.

Devil in the Grove is the story of four black men accused of rape in the Florida town of Groveland in 1949, which drew a civil rights crusader, and eventual Supreme Court justice, into the legal battle.

The Pulitzer Prize comes with $10,000 US in cash. There were also winners named Tuesday in journalism and photography.

With files from The Associated Press