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Adam Johnson, who graduated from McNeese State in 1996, was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel '''The Orphan Master’s Son,'' which is set in North Korea. (Associated Press)

Adam Johnson, who graduated from McNeese State in 1996, was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel '''The Orphan Master’s Son,'' which is set in North Korea. (Associated Press)

Adam Johnson, who graduated from McNeese in 1996, was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel '''The Orphan Master’s Son,'' which is set in North Korea. (Associated Press)

Adam Johnson, who graduated from McNeese in 1996, was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel '''The Orphan Master’s Son,'' which is set in North Korea. (Associated Press)

McNeese graduate snags Pulitzer Prize for fiction

Last Modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 6:31 PM

Special to the American Press

A McNeese State University alumnus snagged the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Adam Johnson, who graduated from McNeese in 1996 with a Master’s of fine Arts in creative writing, was awarded for his novel “The Orphan Master’s Son,” which is set in North Korea.

Johnson, who also attended Arizona State University and Florida State University, is now a professor at Stanford University.

The Pulitzer committee called Johnson’s book an “exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.”

Robert Olen Butler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former McNeese MFA professor, taught Johnson at McNeese and said he knows “no American writer who is more deserving of the Pulitzer Prize than (Johnson.)”

“His brilliance was clear to me from the moment I read his application to McNeese,” he said in a news release. “But brilliance alone does not make a great writer. He also had a remarkable work ethic, a ravenous engagement with life experience and an ever-deepening wisdom about the human condition.”

Butler went on to say that he is “proud” of Johnson and of the McNeese creative writing program “which remains one of the finest in the country.”

Amy Fleury, McNeese’s MFA director, was a former classmate of Johnson said “not only do I admire Adam as a writer and human being, but I’ve also enjoyed knowing him as a friend for almost 20 years.”

“I wasn’t surprised that he won the award,” she said. “His book is just that good. I am delighted and happy for my friend.”

Jacob Blevins, McNeese English department head and former classmate, said he “could not be more proud” of Johnson.

“Adam’s winning the most prestigious literary prize in America speaks of Adam’s talent and incomparable work ethic,” he said. “It also confirms that McNeese’s MFA program has always played an integral role in the development of the raw talent that comes here to study.”

John Wood, founder and former MFA director, said Johnson’s win is “great news.”

“We all knew from the start that Adam was one of the finest students that we ever had in the program and that great things were before him,” he said. “So, he wins the Pulitzer ... no telling what’s next for Adam. Nothing would surprise me.”

Johnson was also named the 2013 Guggenheim Fellow in Creative Arts for Fiction, the recipient of a Swarthout Writing Award, a Kingsbury Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Other books by Johnson include “Emporium,” and “Parasites Like Us.”

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