Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Tracy Kidder, USA


ďIím a little suspicious of the great, overarching view. It always leaves something out. What interests me is trying to catch the reflection of the human being on the page. Iím interested in how ordinary people live their lives.Ē
ďA lot of the job of a person trying to write stories that are true is to make what's true believable. It isn't enough to say, well, it actually happened. You have to make it believable on the page; you have to bring people to life and scenes to life.Ē

Writer, reporter, and journalist. Tracy Kidder was born in New York City in 1945. He spent his childhood growing up in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where his father was a lawyer and his mother a teacher. He attended Harvard where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1967. From 1967 until 1969, he served as first lieutenant in Vietnam, and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Following the war, Kidder obtained his Masters from the University of Iowa, where he participated in the Writers' Workshop, a program known for the literary lustre of both its staff and alumni. It was there that Kidder met Atlantic Monthly Contributing Editor Dan Wakefield, who helped him get his first assignment for the magazine as a freelance writer. Kidder's articles in the Atlantic have covered a broad array of topics, ranging from railroads, to energy, architecture, the environment, and more.

His first book, The Road to Yuba City: A Journey into the Juan Corona Murders, published in 1974, grew out of an assignment about a mass-murder trial in California. His second publication, The Soul of a New Machine (1981) won him both a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1982. Other bestselling works of non-fiction include House (1985), Among Schoolchildren (1989), Old Friends (1993), and Home Town (1999).

Kidder has also received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (1990), the Ambassador Book Award (1990) and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award (1998), among others. Three of his books have been considered by the New York Times Book Review to be one of the best books published in their respective years. He has also written several short works of fiction.

Kidderís most recent work, Mountains Beyond Mountains, is a journey into the life work of Dr. Paul Farmer, an American doctor who has dedicated himself to fighting global health problems and who established hospitals and new health care structures in several countries, in favour of the poorest of the poor. More than a biography, the book described his pragmatic attempts under difficult circumstances to create real forms of progress, and to increase awareness world-wide concerning these issues.

Kidder also writes for the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review. He is a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Massachusetts, Springfield College, and Clarkson University.

He is currently working on a book about his experiences in Vietnam.

Tracy Kidder lives with his wife and family in western Massachusetts and Maine.

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"Literary reportage is an engagement with reality with a novelistís eye but with a journalistís discipline."Pedro Rosa Mendes (jury member 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006)