A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, after beating out Jonathan Franzen's Freedom for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle prize earlier this month.
Goon Squad is a collection of loosely connected stories, starting out in the present day and ending in the future. Talking to Entertainment Weekly recently, Egan explained how she came to be setting the book's final story a couple decades from now:
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to revisit Alex-a minor character in the first chapter, when he's in his early 20's-as he approaches middle age. Since the first chapter takes place around 2007, I had no choice but to plunge into the future. I didn't worry about whether I was writing science fiction, or anything like that; I just tried to follow Alex into his future, and be as observant as possible about what the world around him had come to look like. I was most concerned with the question of how he had evolved-it was his story that led me to all the rest. It's funny to me that people see that chapter as dystopic (well, okay, I guess the idea that global warming has altered the earth's axis is a little scary), because to me we seem closer to some of what I imagined than we even were when I wrote it. For example, I posited the existence of handsets for preverbal children. I was writing about that pre iPhone, and honestly, I've watched toddlers using their parents' iPhones and thought, Wow, that's exactly what I was picturing in "Pure Language."
Since I came across that interview, I've been dying to read this novel — I love stories which start out in the present day, with a realistic setting, and then end up in the future, like Doris Lessing's Four-Gated City.
A Visit from the Goon Squad joins The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon on the list of Pulitzer Prize-winning novels with science-fictional and fantastical themes. (There's also The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which is peppered with nerd references.)