Andrew Sean Greer (MFA 1996) Awarded 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

sean greer less

Greer's novel, "Less," is "a generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love," according to Monday's announcement on the Pulitzer website.

The novel concerns a novelist named Arthur Less who accepts invitations to obscure literary events across the globe in order to avoid an invitation to an ex-boyfriend's wedding, according to his website. "Thus begins an around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia that will take Arthur Less to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India and Japan and put thousands of miles between him and the problems he refuses to face. What could possibly go wrong?" the site says.

The other finalists were "In the Distance" by Hernan Diaz and "The Idiot" by Elif Batuman.

Greer, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from the University of Montana in 1996 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.

One of his professors at UM, Dee McNamer, said Greer "was from the get-go was one of the brightest, quickest young writers I've ever worked with." She praised his range and said it's a credit to Greer and the program.

One of his peers was J. Robert Lennon, now a creative writing professor at Cornell University. Lennon's most recent novel, "Broken River," earned positive reviews in the New York Times, the Guardian and more.

In an email, Lennon wrote, "In short, Andy is a great writer — I’m not remotely surprised this prize has come his way. His work was moving, adventurous, and brilliant when we were all young, and it’s all of those things now, and then some. I’d like to think this award is acknowledging not just this excellent new book but an increasingly exciting career. He deserves the accolades!"

Greer joins a select company of UM graduates who've won a Pulitzer in the book categories. In 2016, New Yorker writer William Finnegan won the Pulitzer for autobiography. He earned a creative writing MFA from UM in 1978. Before him, A.B. Guthrie Jr. won prize for fiction in 1950 for "The Way West."

Greer lives in San Francisco and is also executive director of the Santa Maddalena Foundation writer's residency in Tuscany, according to his site.

"Less" is his sixth book. His other novels are "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells," "The Confessions of Max Tivoli," "The Story of a Marriage," and "The Path of Minor Planets." He's also published a collection of stories, "How It Was For Me."

From the Missoulian, April 17, 2018, Cory Walsh.