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Anthony Doerr and Elizabeth Kolbert win 2015 Pulitzer Prizes

Anthony Doerr won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday for his World War II novel "All the Light We Cannot See," published by Scribner, which the Pulitzer committee called "an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology."

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, reviewer Steph Cha called Doerr's book "ambitious and majestic without bluntness or overdependence on heartbreak." The finalists for the fiction prize were Joyce Carol Oates for "Lovely, Dark, Deep," Richard Ford for "Let Me Be Frank With You" and UC Riverside creative writing professor Laila Lalami for "The Moor's Account."

The winner in the general nonfiction category was "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert, published by Henry Holt. The biography prize was awarded to "The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe" by David...

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Tennessee Senate kills proposal to make the Bible official state book

The Tennessee Senate has killed a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book, essentially guaranteeing that the controversial legislation will not be passed this year. Senators voted 22-9 to send the bill, which earlier passed in the state House of Representatives, to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Tennessean reports.

The vote to kill the legislation came after high-ranking Tennesee Republicans voiced their opposition to the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said it would be "a dark day" if the bill passed, adding: "All I know is that I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief. You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you're on your way to where he wants you."

The bill was also opposed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbert Slatery, both Republicans. Ron Ramsey, the state's lieutenant governor, also spoke out against the legislation, saying, "We don't need to...

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Festival of Books: Writing about America's criminal underbelly

How the panelists on "Writing American Crime" found their sources became a fun topic Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Ruben Castaneda said he smoked cracked cocaine while he was covering crime in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s before kicking the addiction.

For his book "S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C.," he revisited the block where he bought drugs and spoke with a pastor who was protected by a local drug dealer named Baldy.

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Sam Quinones had no trouble speaking with drug users for his book "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic."

The Mexican drug traffickers in federal prison proved tougher nuts to crack. He wrote to dozens and ultimately convinced some to talk after he mentioned his last writings about Mexican singer Chalino Sanchez, who is idolized by drug traffickers. 

The panel talked about the criminal underbelly of America and the intensive research needed to write about it with gusto and authority. 

...

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Festival of Books: Bring on the anxiety for Khakpour, Doten and Nicholson

On Sunday afternoon, a panel called "On the Fringe" brought together three novelists: Mark Doten, author of "The Infernal," a darkly twisted novel in which the major players in the Iraq war come alive; Porochista Khakpour, author of two critically acclaimed novels, including “The Last Illusion,” which imagined the life of a so-called “bird boy” navigating a version of New York leading up to the events of Sept. 11; and Geoff Nicholson, author of "The City Under the Skin," a novel in which the urban space he builds is a kind of mirror for whichever character is doing the seeing. 

Why were they all in the same room? They are united by a certain level of experimentation in their writing. A certain comfort with the strange and the absurd. A level of commitment to the darker stories we can all tell about each other. And a feeling like the stories they’re telling aren’t easy but probably aren’t wrong.

“We all write out of our anxieties,” Nicholson said, referring to his co-panelists and perhaps...

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Festival of Books: Female writers talk 'mansplaining,' un-motherhood

Rebecca Solnit didn’t invent the term "mansplaining." Nor does she necessarily appreciate the idea she gave birth to it. "I’m its aunt, anyway."

The question of neologistic genealogy came up during Sunday’s panel, hosted by Times Books and Culture Editor Joy Press, who asked the San Francisco-based essayist and author of 17 books about the enduring power of her piece, "Men Explain Things to Me," also the title of her new book.

(Solnit said although the essay was probably her most widely read of all time, she was originally paid just $125 for it.)

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Solnit was just one of what Press called the "most brilliant, thought-provoking and ornery women" at this past weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Also present was Times columnist Meghan Daum, similarly uninterested in the supposed powers or honor of mothering. She is the editor of "Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids," as well as author of the new essay...

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Festival of Books: Malcolm Gladwell discusses fame, writing and three strikes

Author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell sat down with Times' film critic Kenneth Turan at the inaugural Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange on Sunday during the Festival of Books at USC.

In typical Gladwell style, they discussed a variety of seemingly random topics that weaved into a cohesive conversation, all centered around his latest bestseller "David and Goliath."

"The whole process of my writing has been an exercise in delaying the moment in which I draw a conclusion about someone," Gladwell told Turan.

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The goal of the Ideas Exchange is to engage bright people in an enlivening conversation. More events will be held throughout the year in a series of ticketed lectures.

Here are some highlights of the exchange:

On fame’s effect:

"I think it becomes very hard to be a good person after a certain point. Or at least it’s not impossible, it’s just harder to work. Just as, in 'David and Goliath,' I talk about what it means to be, how hard it is, weirdly,...

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