Gregory Kirschling
April 18, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Czechs love their beers. When novelist Jeffrey Eugenides (left) realized he’d be in Prague when the Pulitzer Prize winners were announced, he imagined uncapping a cold one. ”My idea was that if I didn’t win I could drown my sorrow in Czech beer,” he says. ”It turns out I was lucky enough to win, so we had Bohemian champagne instead.”

Eugenides, 43, took the fiction prize for Middlesex, a generations-spanning epic framed around a Greek-American hermaphrodite first called Callie, then Cal. The novel appeared nine years after his first book, The Virgin Suicides, made his name and spawned a movie. ”I took a lot of grief about the nine-year writing period,” said Eugenides on the phone from Prague, where he was attending a writers’ festival, the day after his big win. ”Getting this after all of that is a wonderful testament that I haven’t wasted the last 10 years of my life. Believe me, some of the time I did feel that I might be doing that.” — Gregory Kirschling

Other Winners

DRAMA Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics POETRY Paul Muldoon, Moy Sand and Gravel BIOGRAPHY Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate GENERAL NONFICTION Samantha Power, ”A Problem From Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide HISTORY Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943

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