Jason Kelly | July 4, 2019
Carlos Lozada ’93, the nonfiction book critic at the Washington Post, was a Pulitzer finalist when we wrote about his “American Political Journalism” class in 2018. This year, he took the top spot, earning the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in criticism “for trenchant and searching reviews and essays that joined warm emotion and careful analysis.” Our latest Questionnaire delves into the reviewer’s work.
How do you define your role as a nonfiction book critic?
I try to define it as broadly as possible. Given the political moment we’re experiencing and the fact that I work at The Washington Post, I’ve definitely been writing a lot about political books, but I try to range widely within that category. That means going beyond the campaign books and the policy debates and all the inside-the-White-House volumes that are coming out, and instead grappling with works that are trying to explain the cultural and social and historical forces that have brought us here. Through that lens, a history of the arms industry in America can be a political book. A study on the technology behind protest movements can be deeply political. The memoir of a Border Patrol agent is political, too.
In a practical sense, that means I strive for a balance between reading significant books that are coming out throughout the year and choosing big themes that I am personally interested in and finding a way to interrogate them through books. That could mean finding old books that are newly relevant, or reading several books on a related subject and trying to put them all together. Last year I wrote about bigger themes like truth and anger and identity, but also about new books on the 2016 race and Washington memoirs like James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty. That mix keeps the job varied and fun.
Read more here.