Fiction Friday: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” and other Pulitzer Prize Winners

While I had heard a million great things about “THE HELP,” I have heard very mixed reviews about “A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD” by Jennifer Egan. Which, I have to admit, really intrigued me as to why most people seem to either absolutely love or absolutely hate this book.

I can’t quite say that I loved this book, but I did enjoy it once I got the hang of it. It is quite hard to understand and get into at the beginning. Each of the 13 chapters is narrated by a different character, who is generally a minor character from the previous chapter. If you don’t know this ahead of time (like I didn’t) it takes a few chapters to learn that and to really understand. It makes for a frustrating read at the beginning – especially since Egan usually doesn’t reveal the character’s name until a page or two into the chapter. But, once you understand that’s what’s going on, it can almost become a game to figure out who the next character is going to be.

Which brings me to a couple of my main issues with this book. Barring one or two exceptions, the characters are not likeable. I was actually almost glad when chapters were ending and I got to meet a different character. I also did not enjoy chapter 10, which was the only chapter written in second person. In a book where enough different things are going on, I felt it was a little extreme. If you can get past the unlikeability of the characters and the odd Chapter 10, it does make for an interesting read.

Image courtesy of Savidge ReadThere’s been lots of chatter about the chapter done in Power Point and whether or not people like it. I’ve even read some speculation that the Power Point is the only reason that this book won the Pulitzer Prize. I was intrigued. But the presentation, within context of the book, actually makes sense. It is actually part of the narrator, Ally’s, life. I enjoyed the chapter, and it once again reminded me that sometimes simple words and phrases can have a much deeper meaning and resonate further than long, drawn-out sentences.

In all, I did find this book to be an interesting and overall enjoyable read. I did want to read to the very last page, which is sometimes a difficult thing for me. That said, I can definitely understand how this is not a book for everyone. It’s a book that the reader must concentrate on, figure out how to navigate, and read with an open mind.

Here are some other Pulitzer Prize winners worth a read:

2010 “TINKERS” by Paul Harding

2009 “OLIVE KITTERIDGEby Elizabeth Strout


2007 “THE ROADby Cormac McCarthy

2006 “MARCH by Geraldine Brooks

2005 “GILEADby Marilynne Robinson

2004 “THE KNOWN WORLDby Edward P. Jones

2003 “MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides

2002 “EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo



Click here for a more complete list of the winners since it all began in 1948.  

What did you think? Did you love or hate “A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD?” Can you think of any similar books in style and taste? Better yet, what’s your favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning novel? Make a comment below to enter for a chance to win a free book! Just enter your name and email address and tell me which is your favorite Pulitzer Prize winning book. Winner will be randomly selected.

— Kristen B.

17 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” and other Pulitzer Prize Winners

  1. I've been reading Pulitzer Prize-winning novels as a way to challenge myself. I thought many of the books would be pretentious and challenging (like "The Known World" was), but most books have been easy to read and interesting. I love the Lahiri and Eugenides books, but my favorite was Larry McMurtury's "Lonesome Dove." I didn't think I would love a Western, but this book captivated me from the start.

  2. My favorite is definitely To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm looking forward to my oldest reading it for school this coming year.

  3. I don't generally like literary fiction, which is what most of the winners seem to be. However, I did kind of like To Kill a Mockingbird.

  4. I absolutely love love love A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. A real bummer that it was a posthumous release and I'll never get to see/read what Toole could've done with his great talent.

  5. I really enjoyed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Chabon. And as a reader of comics and graphic novels I was really excited that The Escapist was turned into a comic book series as well!

  6. Congratulations to our Fiction Friday Giveaway winner, Jessica DeLeon! We'll be contacting you via the email address you provided so we can get your prize on its way to you! Thanks again to all that participated. Stay tuned to HPB on Facebook, Twitter and the Half Price Blog for more fun giveaways like this one!

  7. Absolutely hated "A Visit from the Good Squad." Generally, I enjoy clever graphics in books (Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" comes to mind). But these characters were more than unlikeable. And, to me, that ruined any other cleverness the book might possess.

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