South Carolina ties to the Pulitzers


Last year about this time, South Carolina ETV did a great series titled, "From the Jazz Age to the Digital Age: Pulitzer Prize Winners in South Carolina celebrating Pulitzer novelist Julia Peterkin." It's available on YouTube if you missed it:

The program focused on the lasting impact of the late Julia Peterkin, South Carolina's only recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Literature. The Charleston Post and Courier won last year for journalism, which was a great achievement for a great newspaper.

As the description explains, "Peterkin won the Pulitzer in 1929, and was a well-to-do white woman writing about African Americans in a way that made most readers assume she was also African American. The program will not only explore Peterkin's gifts as a storyteller but will also address her remarkable achievements in the context of the culture, the times and the expected roles of women in society during the Jazz Age."

This year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Literature is author Colson Whitehead. His remarkable novel, "The Underground Railroad," is one of the most creative, powerful and challenging novels you'll ever read, and will certainly become part of the American literary canon. It also won the National Book Award and was an "Oprah's Pick" in 2016.

Please forgive me, but this is where I'm going to do a little "Dad Bragging."

In the "Acknowledgments" at the end of the book, you'll find these words: "Thanks to Nicole Aragi, Bill Thomas, Rose Courteau, Michael Goldsmith, Duvall Osteen, and Alison Rich (still) for getting this book into your hands."

That particular Duvall Osteen would be our daughter, whose natural love of reading was developed early on while sitting for hours upon hours in her great-grandmother Toody's lap.

She began her educational odyssey in Wilson Hall's preschool, where she was generally considered "a handful" by her often exasperated teachers. She now lives in New York where she's still a handful and also a literary agent with Aragi Inc., which was founded by her boss and mentor Nicole Aragi. You can check them out at

Their firm represents Colson Whitehead and a multitude of other great writers from all over the world, so I'm extremely proud to point out a small but meaningful South Carolina connection to this great work of modern literature.

Julia Peterkin would be proud.

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Since we're deep into high culture, the arts and history this week, I'd recommend checking out the PBS series about World War I that aired this past week on "American Experience."

"The Great War" completely drew me in for three straight nights, and I learned how little I actually knew about World War I and President Woodrow Wilson.

Here's a link:

The 100-year-old film footage and photographs are amazing.

No doubt the world is getting scary these days with people like Bashar al-Assad, Vladmir Putin and Kim Jong Un commanding so much of our attention.

"The Great War" reminds us that even 100 years later, the world remains a complicated, dangerous place for one simple reason: Humans.

Graham Osteen is Editor-At-Large of The Sumter Item. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GrahamOsteen, or visit