A University of Montana graduate has won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Andrew Sean Greer's novel, "Less," is "a generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love," according to Monday's announcement on the Pulitzer website.
Greer, in a series of tweets, said he was stunned that his novel had won.
“I was working at my job here (in) Italy, and had just persuaded a dog to let me put her into polka dot pajamas (not my dog) when I heard the news. I didn’t believe it. So I called my friend Michael Chabon, who screamed. I asked if it was true, and he said yes! And I asked what do I do now? And he said Andy, now you write whatever you want to. And then I went and drank a lot of red wine.
"I hope somebody put some money on me because they have surely made a fortune now. Let’s be honest: it was an incredible year for books, and writers like Jesmyn Ward, Celeste Ng, Min Jin Lee, George Saunders, Elif Batuman and Hernan Diaz all deserve mention here, as well as dozens of other amazing books.
"As for my book, all I can say is that it is about the foolishness of American myopia, the uneasiness of being gay in the world, the difficulties of love, but most of all it is about joy. A writer friend once said the hardest thing to write about is joy. I took it as a challenge. It’s tough year, and a tough time in the world. And perhaps it is foolish to believe, but I do believe, despite all this, in the possibility of joy."
The novel concerns a novelist named Arthur Less who accepts invitations to obscure literary events across the globe to avoid an ex-boyfriend's wedding, according to his website.
"Thus begins an around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia that will take Arthur Less to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India and Japan and put thousands of miles between him and the problems he refuses to face. What could possibly go wrong?" the site says.
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The other finalists were "In the Distance" by Hernan Diaz and "The Idiot" by Elif Batuman.
Greer, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from the University of Montana in 1996 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.
One of his professors at UM, Dee McNamer, said Greer "was from the get-go was one of the brightest, quickest young writers I've ever worked with." She praised his range and said it's a credit to Greer and the program.
One of his peers was J. Robert Lennon, now a creative writing professor at Cornell University. Lennon's most recent novel, "Broken River," earned positive reviews in the New York Times, the Guardian and more.
In an email, Lennon wrote, "In short, Andy is a great writer — I’m not remotely surprised this prize has come his way. His work was moving, adventurous, and brilliant when we were all young, and it’s all of those things now, and then some. I’d like to think this award is acknowledging not just this excellent new book but an increasingly exciting career. He deserves the accolades!"
Greer joins a select company of UM graduates who've won a Pulitzer in the book categories. In 2016, New Yorker writer William Finnegan won the Pulitzer for autobiography. He earned a creative writing MFA from UM in 1978. Before him, A.B. Guthrie Jr. won prize for fiction in 1950 for "The Way West."
Greer lives in San Francisco and is also executive director of the Santa Maddalena Foundation writer's residency in Tuscany, according to his site.
"Less" is his sixth book. His other novels are "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells," "The Confessions of Max Tivoli," "The Story of a Marriage," and "The Path of Minor Planets." He's also published a collection of stories, "How It Was For Me."