Jennifer Egan’s mantel is getting heavy.
On Monday, the czars of the literary and journalism awards declared Egan’s novel, “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This comes a month after the author won the National Book Critics Circle for fiction for the same book.
The Pulitzer judges called Egan’s epic “an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed.”
Indeed, time was a central figure for Egan in the book, which follows interweaving characters in the music industry.
“The book is about time, and time and music are so interwoven,” said Egan when we spoke to her last month. “We walk around awash in our own past, listening to songs that meant a lot to us at certain points.”
Egan was enjoying lunch in her neighborhood, at Olea on Lafayette Avenue, on Monday when she got a call from her publicist with the news.
“I got a couple bites of my arugula salad and I was running out the door, bumbling home in a fog,” said Egan. “I felt disoriented at first, like I was on the streets that I knew, but it felt unrecognizable.”
A few hours later, Egan was busy with another meal — preparing Passover dinner for 15 — and was still coming to grips with her achievement.
“There’s a part of me that feels this is something you dream about happen, not something that happens,” said Egan. “I feel like this book has gotten a lot of love, and honestly I was not expecting or even hoping for more. It really is an embarrassment of riches. I can’t imagine I have any more good luck in me. I’m really trying to savor every moment of it.”