The 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners were recently announced, highlighting the remarkable contributions of Latina and Latino Pulitzer winners like Silvia Foster-Frau, Arelis Hernández, Brandon Som, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Médar de la Cruz. Their work has impacted journalism and literature, showcasing the rich and diverse Latino community's voices. Past winners from our Latino community have included Oscar Hijuelos for 1990's The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Junot Díaz for 2008's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

What is a Pulitzer Prize? The Pulitzer Prizes are two-dozen annual awards given by Columbia University in New York for achievements in the United States in "journalism, arts and letters." They were established in 1917 by the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, according to a definition on Wikipedia. Globally, winning a ‘Pulitzer’ is revered as a major achievement to those who produced, written USA or North American high quality journalism, books and even music. 

Here Are Our Latina and Latino Pulitzer Prize Winners:

Silvia Foster-Frau and Arelis Hernández: Award-Winning Investigation of the AR-15

Latinas Silvia Foster-Frau and Arelis Hernández, national investigative reporters at the Washington Post, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their profound examination of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. 

Their work stands out for its meticulous investigation and compelling storytelling, which forced readers to confront the devastating effects of this weapon often used in mass shootings across the United States.

Foster-Frau's investigative reporting delves into how local, state, and federal governments serve America's diversifying population, especially in the face of shifting demographics and cultural dynamics.

Hernández has a track record of covering critical issues such as hurricanes, mass shootings, and the aftermath of natural disasters, including the significant digital project "Sin Luz: Life without power" following Hurricane Maria.

Silvia Foster-Frau's Journalism Journey

Silvia Foster-Frau joined the Washington Post in February 2021. She quickly established herself as a leading voice on multiculturalism and demographic changes in the U.S. 

Before her tenure at the Post, she worked at the San Antonio Express-News, covering immigration and border affairs. 

Her notable achievements include receiving the NAHJ Elaine Rivera Civil Rights and Social Justice Award in 2022 and being named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors in 2019.

Arelis Hernández's Acclaimed Reporting

Arelis Hernández's career is marked by her deep commitment to covering significant issues affecting communities, particularly in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Southern border. Her awards and recognitions include:

  • The Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity in 2013.
  • The World Press Photo Award for Innovative Storytelling for "Sin Luz: Life without Power" in 2018.

In addition to her notable achievements, Hernández has also covered critical stories from Venezuela, providing insights into the country's political and social upheavals. 

Her early work at the San Antonio Express-News, particularly her in-depth reporting on immigration and border affairs, set the foundation for her current role and showcased her commitment to thorough and impactful journalism.

Arelis Hernández - Washington Post Journalist
Image Credit: X

Brandon Som: Celebrating Heritage through Poetry

Literary Latines must know Brandon Som, awarded for his poetry collection "Tripas: Poems," which brings to life the complexities of his dual Mexican and Chinese heritage. 

His work honors the dignity of his family's working lives. Som's poetry enacts a cómo se dice poetics, listening to heritage languages and transcribing family memory, weaving narratives of transnational communities.

Brandon Som's Literary Contributions

Brandon Som holds a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. His previous works include:

  • "The Tribute Horse," winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
  • "Babel's Moon," winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Award.

Som's poetry is celebrated for its innovative blending of cultural narratives, drawing from his Mexican and Chinese heritage. As the Anne Newman Sutton Weeks Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College, he has inspired a new generation of poets. 

Additionally, his fellowships at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and Civitella Ranieri highlight his dedication to the craft and influence in the literary community.

Cristina Rivera Garza: A Sister's Search for Justice

"Liliana's Invincible Summer: A Sister's Search for Justice" not only delves into personal tragedy but also serves as a powerful commentary on the global epidemic of femicide and intimate partner violence. A must-read for any Latina reader collective or book clubs.

In this moving narrative, Christina recounts the murder of her 20-year-old sister by a former boyfriend and her determination to seek justice for her sister’s death.

  • The book is a finalist for the National Book Award and has been recognized as a New York Times Notable Book.
  • Rivera Garza's work is celebrated for its poetic biography and deep emotional resonance.

The Latina Pulitzer winner added an innovative narrative structure to her book, which combines memoir, true crime, and poetic prose, offers readers a deeply immersive and thought-provoking experience. It highlights the enduring impact of loss and the relentless pursuit of justice.

Cristina Rivera Garza Black and White photo
Image Credit: Facebook

Rivera Garza's Distinguished Career

Cristina Rivera Garza is an acclaimed author and professor with numerous awards, including:

  • The MacArthur Fellowship.
  • The Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize.

Rivera Garza's extensive academic contributions include her role as the M. D. Anderson Distinguished Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston, where she directs the PhD program in creative writing in Spanish.

Médar de la Cruz: Humanizing Rikers Island through Art

Médar de la Cruz, a Dominican-American cartoonist and illustrator, won the Pulitzer for his visually driven story "The Diary of a Rikers Island Library Worker," published in The New Yorker. His bold black-and-white images humanize prisoners and staff, highlighting their hunger for books.

  • De la Cruz works part-time with the Brooklyn Public Library's Outreach Department, providing book cart services to incarcerated individuals.
  • He is working on a graphic novel about his experiences on Rikers Island.

The Latino Pulitzer winner’s graphic novel in progress promises to offer further insights into the lives of incarcerated individuals, continuing his mission to shed light on often overlooked stories through compelling, empathetic illustrations.

Médar de la Cruz's Artistic Impact

Medar de la Cruz's background includes graduating with a degree in illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, serving as an educator, and conducting community workshops across New York City.

De la Cruz's artistic influence also extends to his contributions as a part-time educator, where he inspires young artists to explore social justice themes through their work. 

The Latino artist and Latino Pulitzer winner’s commitment to using art as a medium for change and his hands-on involvement in the community underscores the profound impact of his visual narratives.

The Long-Lasting Impact of Latino Pulitzer Winners Speaks To The Importance of Representation

Silvia Foster-Frau, Arelis Hernández, Brandon Som, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Médar de la Cruz's achievements exemplify the profound contributions of Latino Pulitzer winners in journalism, art, and literature. 

Their works not only highlight critical social issues but also celebrate and preserve cultural heritage, making a significant impact on readers and communities alike. These distinguished individuals continue to inspire and pave the way for future generations of Latina and Latino writers, artists, and journalists.

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