2015 Finalists

Letters, Drama, and Music

Fiction
Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford (Ecco)
An unflinching series of narratives, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, insightfully portraying a society in decline.

The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami (Pantheon)
A creative narrative of the ill-fated 16th Century Spanish expedition to Florida, compassionately imagined out of the gaps and silences of history.

Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco)
A rich collection of stories told from many rungs of the social ladder and distinguished by their intelligence, language and technique.
Drama
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks
A distinctive and lyrical epic about a slave during the Civil War that deftly takes on questions of identity, power and freedom with a blend of humor and dignity.

Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison
A sly and surprising work about technology and artificial intelligence told through images and ideas that resonate.
History
Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert (Alfred A. Knopf)
A work of staggering scholarship arguing that slavery was crucial to the dynamism of the industrial revolution.

An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America by Nick Bunker (Alfred A. Knopf)
A bifocal perspective on the countdown to the American Revolution, placing the war within a broader crisis of globalization.
Biography or Autobiography
Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism by Thomas Brothers (W.W. Norton)
The masterfully researched second volume of a life of the musical pioneer, effectively showing him in the many milieus where he lived and worked in the 1920s and 1930s.

Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 by Stephen Kotkin (Penguin Press)
A superbly researched tour de force of pre- and post-revolutionary Russian history told through the life of Joseph Stalin.
Poetry
Reel to Reel by Alan Shapiro (University of Chicago Press)
Finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse.

Compass Rose by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press)
A collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our inter-connected world.
General Nonfiction
No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal (Metropolitan Books)
A remarkable work of nonfiction storytelling that exposes the cascade of blunders that doomed America’s misbegotten intervention in Afghanistan.

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The story of a vast country and society in the grip of transformation, calmly surveyed, smartly reported and portrayed with exacting strokes.
Music
Xiaoxiang by Lei Liang (Schott Music Corporation)
A concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra, inspired by a widow’s wail and blending the curious sensations of grief and exhilaration.

The Aristos by John Zorn
A parade of stylistically diverse sounds for violin, cello and piano that create a vivid demonstration of the brain in fluid, unpredictable action.

Journalism

Public Service
The Boston Globe
For its stories, videos, photos and graphics exposing a poorly regulated, profit-driven housing system that subjected thousands of college students in Boston to unsafe, and even deadly, conditions.

The Wall Street Journal
For "Deadly Medicine," a stellar reporting project that documented the significant cancer risk to women of a common surgery and prompted a change in the prescribed medical treatment.
Breaking News Reporting
The Buffalo News Staff
For a superbly reported and written account of a lake-effect snowstorm, using human detail to illuminate the story and multimedia elements to help readers through the storm.

Los Angeles Times Staff
For a quick but thoughtful response to a shooting spree, beginning with minute-by-minute digital storytelling and evolving into print coverage that delved into the impact of the tragedy.
Investigative Reporting
David Jackson, Gary Marx and Duaa Eldeib of the Chicago Tribune
For their exposé of the perils faced by abused children placed in Illinois’s residential treatment centers.
Explanatory Reporting
John Ingold, Joe Amon and Lindsay Pierce of The Denver Post
For an intimate and troubling portrayal of how Colorado’s relaxed marijuana laws have drawn hundreds of parents to the state to seek miracle cures for desperately ill children.

Joan Biskupic, Janet Roberts and John Shiffman of Reuters
For using data analysis to reveal how an elite cadre of lawyers enjoy extraordinary access to the U.S. Supreme Court, raising doubts about the ideal of equal justice.
Local Reporting
Joe Mahr, Joseph Ryan and Matthew Walberg of the Chicago Tribune
For their probe into government corruption in a Chicago suburb, using public records, human stories and shoe-leather reporting to lay out the consequences.

Ziva Branstetter and Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa World
For courageous reporting on the execution process in Oklahoma after a botched execution – reporting that began a national discussion.
National Reporting
Marisa Taylor, Jonathan Landay and Ali Watkins of McClatchy Newspapers
For timely coverage of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture, demonstrating initiative and perseverance in overcoming government efforts to hide the details.

Walt Bogdanich and Mike McIntire of The New York Times
For stories exposing preferential police treatment for Florida State University football players who are accused of sexual assault and other criminal offenses.
International Reporting
Richard Marosi and Don Bartletti of the Los Angeles Times
For reporting on the squalid conditions and brutal practices inside the multibillion dollar industry that supplies vegetables from Mexican fields to American supermarkets.

Ned Parker and a team from Reuters
For intrepid reports of the disintegration of Iraq and the rise of ISIS, linking the developing catastrophe to a legacy of sectarianism, corruption and violence seeded by the U.S. invasion.
Feature Writing
Sarah Schweitzer of The Boston Globe
For her masterful narrative of one scientist's mission to save a rare whale, a beautiful story fortified by expansive reporting, a quiet lyricism and disciplined use of multimedia.

Jennifer Gonnerman of The New Yorker
For a taut, spare, devastating re-creation of the three-year imprisonment of a young man at Rikers Island, much of it spent in solitary confinement, after he was arrested for stealing a backpack.
Commentary
The late David Carr of The New York Times
For columns on the media whose subjects range from threats to cable television’s profit-making power to ISIS’s use of modern media to menace its enemies.

Matthew Kaminski of The Wall Street Journal
For columns from Ukraine, sometimes reported near heavy fighting, deepening readers’ insights into the causes behind the conflict with Russia and the nature and motives of the people involved.
Criticism
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times
For film criticism that rises from a sweeping breadth of knowledge – social, cultural, cinematic – while always keeping the viewer front and center.

Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice, a New York City weekly
For film criticism that combines the pleasure of intellectual exuberance, the perspective of experience and the transporting power of good writing.
Editorial Writing
Tony Messenger and Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
For editorials that brought insight and context to the national tragedy of Ferguson, MO, without losing sight of the community’s needs.

Jill Burcum of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis
For well-written and well-reported editorials that documented a national shame by taking readers inside dilapidated government schools for Native Americans.
Editorial Cartooning
Kevin Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun
For simple, punchy cartoons with a classic feel lampooning the hypocrisy of not just his subjects but also his readers.

Dan Perkins, drawing as Tom Tomorrow, of Daily Kos
For cartoons that create an alternate universe -- an America frozen in time whose chorus of conventional wisdom is at odds with current reality.
Breaking News Photography
Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev and Uriel Sinai of The New York Times
For photographs that portrayed the conflict in Ukraine in an intimate way, showing how the battle for power crushed the lives of people.

Tyler Hicks, Sergey Ponomarev and Wissam Nassar of The New York Times
For capturing key moments in the human struggle in Gaza and providing a fresh take on a long, bloody conflict.
Feature Photography
Bulent Kilic of Agence France-Presse in Washington, D.C.
For his compelling photographs of Kurds fleeing ISIS attacks in small Kurdish towns on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Bob Owen, Jerry Lara and Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News
For chilling photographs that document the hard road Central American migrants must follow to seek refuge in the United States.