Penn Alumna Jennifer Egan wins Pulitzer Prize for fiction

Jennifer Egan, a 1985 College graduate, has won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction by an American author for her inventive rock ‘n’ roll novel, "A Visit from the Goon Squad" originally published in June 2010.

Penn Alumna Jennifer Eagan wins Pulitzer Prize for fiction

Pieter M. Van Hattem/Visalux

In its citation, the Pulitzer jury called Egan's novel "an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed." The book also experiments with format, with an entire chapter structured as a PowerPoint presentation.

“Goon Squad” circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman who works for him.  Readers discover their pasts in intimate detail, as their lives intersect with a host of characters over many years in locations such as New York, San Francisco, Naples and Africa.

Egan’s work has won high praise from both critics and the public. Her first novel, “The Invisible Circus,” published in 1995, was released as a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001. The book was based on her college years traveling in China, the former USSR, Japan and Europe.

In 2001, Egan’s novel “Look at Me” was nominated for the National Book Award and her 2006 novel “The Keep” quickly became a bestseller. Earlier this year, “Goon Squad” won the National Book Critics Circle Prize.

Egan has published short stories in leading magazines, including The New Yorker and Harpers. She is also a frequent contributor of journalism for the New York Times Magazine. Listen to Egan read from her work during a recent visit to Kelly Writers House.

Egan is scheduled to visit Penn again on May 14, for an Alumni Weekend reading at Kelly Writers House. She and fellow Penn alumnus Sam Donsky, a poet and 2007 College grad, will read from their work and join in a post-reading reception. Reservations are required and can be made at or 215-746-POEM.

Originally published on April 21, 2011