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MCLS Booklists

In honor of our 75th Anniversary, we present:
Award-Winning Fiction through the Decades:
Each of the titles below is a Pulitzer and/or National Book Award winner.

1930s:
The Good Earth
Buck, Pearl
A Chinese peasant overcomes the forces of nature and the frailties of human nature to become a wealthy landowner.
Alternate Format: AudioCassette, DVD
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The Yearling
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan
A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet.
Alternate Format: Large Print, VHS
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1940s:
The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck, John
The saga of the Joad family and its struggle to escape the dustbowl and reestablish roots in California during the Depression.
Alternate Format: AudioCassette, AudioDisc, DVD
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Tales of the South Pacific
Michener, James
The stories upon which the Broadway musical "South Pacific" is based explore the people and beauty of the Pacific's Coral Islands as seen though the eyes of a young naval lieutenant.
Alternate Format: Large Print
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1950s:
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway, Ernest
In this beautiful, symbolic story an old fisherman catches a giant marlin, only to have sharks strip it to the bone.
Alternate Format: AudioCassette
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From Here to Eternity
Jones, James
A portrait of a military camp stationed in Hawaii just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Alternate Format: DVD, VHS
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1960s:
Advise and Consent
Drury, Allen
Explores the reactions of those in and around the United States Senate to the controversial nomination of Robert Leffingwell, a former Communist Party member, to be United States Secretary of State.
The Reivers
Faulkner, William
This grand misadventure is the story of three unlikely thieves, or reivers: 11-year-old Lucius Priest and two of his family's retainers. In 1905, these three set out from Mississippi for Memphis in a stolen motorcar. The astonishing and complicated results reveal Faulkner as a master of the picaresque.
Alternate Format: DVD
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1970s:
The Optimist’s Daughter
Welty, Eudora
Laurel McKelva Hand is a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.
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Killer Angels
Shaara, Michael
Long considered the most important Civil War novel, this title explores the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history as two armies fight for two conflicting dreams. One dreams of freedom, the other of a way of life…more than men fall on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty are also the casualties of war.
Alternate Format: AudioDisc, DVD, VHS
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1980s:
The Executioner’s Song
Mailer, Norman
Follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America's prisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, then killing them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on dying for his crime.
Alternate Format: DVD
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Beloved
Morrison, Toni
Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistently haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.
Alternate Format: AudioCassette, Large Print, DVD, VHS
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1990s:
A Thousand Acres
Smiley, Jane
When an aging father passes the family farm to his three daughters, the generous gift ignites events that threaten to tear the family apart.
Alternate Format: Large Print, AudioDisc, VHS
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The Shipping News
Proulx, Annie
When Quoyle's two-timing wife meets her just desserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life…a vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family.
Alternate Format: AudioDisc, DVD, Book Club Kit
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2000s:
In America
Sontag, Susan
In 1876, 35-year-old Maryna Zalewska, Poland's brilliant, revered actress, packs up her 14-person entourage, including husband, child, maid, and assorted relatives and admirers, and emigrates to Anaheim, CA, determined to shed her glittering life and disappear into the unglamorous anonymity borne of the radical, hard-scrabble work of her commune. After a couple of years, with the failure of the farm looming, Maryna returns to the stage in a dazzling U.S. comeback. Based on the life of Helena Modrzejewska (stage name Helena Modjeska).
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Gilead
Robinson, Marilynne
Reverend John Ames of Gilead, Iowa, a grandson and son of preachers, now in his seventies, is afraid he hasn't much time left to tell his young son about his heritage. And so he takes up his pen, as he has for decades and vividly describes his prophet-like grandfather, who had a vision that inspired him to go to Kansas and make himself useful to the cause of abolition. He recounts the death of his first wife and child, marvels over the variegated splendors of earth and sky, and offers moving interpretations of the Gospel. And then, as he struggles with his disapproval and fear of his namesake and shadow son, Jack, the reprobate offspring of his closest friend, his letter evolves into a full-blown apologia punctuated by the disturbing revelation of Jack's wrenching predicament.
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