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Tim O’Brien becomes first fiction writer to win Pritzker Award

By Abigail Cain

Tim O'Brien. © Marion Ettlinger.
Tim O'Brien. © Marion Ettlinger.

Novelist Tim O’Brien has been awarded the 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing, marking the first time a fiction writer has won the $100,000 prize. O’Brien, whose archive resides at the Ransom Center, is the author of such works as The Things They Carried (1980) and In the Lake of The Woods (1994).

The Ransom Center acquired O’Brien’s archive in 2007. The more than 25 boxes of material document the author’s life and work, including a story about war he wrote as a boy, his military jacket and awards, weather-damaged letters received from his family while he was in Vietnam, a map of that country heavily annotated decades later, and his research notes for his novels. The bulk of the archive consists of materials related to O’Brien’s novels, including If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973), Northern Lights (1975), Going After Cacciato (1978), The Nuclear Age (1985), and July, July (2002).

Related content:

Read more about what O’Brien has to say about his papers residing at the Ransom Center.

View selected items from his archive.



Seeking permission to watercolor paint from some of your vietnam photos. I am an old vet (vietnam era map compiler, so never saw combat). I do love to paint with these type photos as subject matter. May I have your permission?

Alicia Dietrich

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your interest in the Ransom Center’s Tim O’Brien collection. While the Ransom Center owns the physical materials, we do not own the copyright to the material. If you wish to paint a photo taken by Mr. O’Brien, you’ll need to contact him or his representatives for permission. Contact information can be found at this link:

Hope that’s helpful,

Alicia Dietrich, Cultural Compass Editor

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