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An Open Letter from the Community


Dear Pulitzer Prizes for Literature,


We, the undersigned, are readers and lovers of literature, undocumented writers, first and second generation immigrants, Native and Black writers, past winners and honorees of Pulitzer prizes and major national awards. We are supremely grateful for the decades’ work the Pulitzer has done to uplift books and authors.


From this place of gratitude, and in hopes to speak to your alignment with the past work you have done, we implore you to update your requirements for the Pulitzer Prize to include the work of our peers who through accidents of geography, of violence perpetrated on our lands, and the personal familial reckonings with survival, have come to have or have been born into a mixed or undocumented status.


We were dismayed to learn, through Javier Zamora’s op-ed piece, It’s Time for the Pulitzer Prize for Literature to Accept Noncitizens, that in the categories of Fiction, Biography, Memoir, Poetry, and General Nonfiction, the Pulitzer prize requires authors to be United States citizens.


Along the way of awarding new work, the Pulitzer has a hand, and an opportunity, in creating a new canon. Works that are honored by a prize and nomination are not only honored momentarily, but they become part of our canonical reading.


We, the undersigned, believe that we have a duty to ask what constitutes the literature of a nation, and in asking this question, we believe it is essential to veer away from the definitions the State provides as to what it thinks constitutes U.S. selfhood.


Whether undocumented writers are writing about the border or not, their voices are quintessentially part of what it means to belong and struggle to belong in this and to this nation.


In an increasingly nativistic world, we look to the Pulitzer to continue to guide us, and we hope you will see your way to changing the prize requirements.


We write to you with dismay and with admiration and hope. Thank you for considering and listening.

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