Workshop alumna Jayne Anne Phillips has won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and three other Iowa Writers' Workshop graduates were named finalists for Pulitzer literary awards, which were announced May 6.
Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Written by Sara Epstein Moninger


Phillips, who earned an MFA in 1978, was recognized for her novel Night Watch. The Pulitzer judges described the book as “a beautifully rendered novel set in West Virginia’s Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the aftermath of the Civil War where a severely wounded Union veteran, a 12-year-old girl, and her mother, long abused by a Confederate soldier, struggle to heal.”

Yiyun Li, who graduated with a Master of Science in 2000 and two MFAs (fiction and nonfiction) in 2005, was a finalist in fiction for her book of short stories Wednesday’s Child. Li’s short stories and novels have won numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Book of Goose. She currently serves as director of Princeton University’s creative writing program.

Additionally, two alumnae were recognized as finalists for the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry:

Jorie Graham, who graduated with an MFA in 1978 and won a Pulitzer in 1996 for The Dream of the Unified Field, was named a finalist for To 2040. Graham, one of the most celebrated poets of her generation, is a former longtime faculty member in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Among her poetry collections are The End of Beauty, Place, and Sea Change. She currently is the Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric at Harvard University.

Robyn Schiff, who graduated with an MFA in 1999, was named a finalist for Information Desk: An Epic, a book-length poem in three parts set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Schiff, who has been a visiting faculty member in the UI Department of English, also is the author of Worth, Revolver, and A Woman of Property, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She teaches at the University of Chicago and co-edits Canarium Books.

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually to honor achievements in journalism, literature, and music. See the full list of 2024 Pulitzer winners.