Entertainment, Life & Leisure

Jayne Anne Phillips’ novel ‘Night Watch’ among Pulitzer winners

A West Virginia native whose works are often set in the state won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year.

Jayne Anne Phillips’ “Night Watch,” a mother-daughter saga set in a West Virginia asylum right after the war, was cited for fiction. 

Phillips, a Buckhannon native, sees “Night Watch” as the third of a trilogy of novels about war, following the Vietnam-era narrative “Machine Dreams” and the Korean War story “Lark & Termite,” which draws in part on a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press investigation into the No Gun Ri massacre.

She began “Night Watch” eight years ago, and found the Civil War era increasingly, and uncomfortably timely.

“The Civil War still has such an enormous hold on this country,” she said. “I hope people can pick up a piece of fiction and put their politics aside and enter into feeling what it was like for people at that time.”

Phillips is a  WVU alumnae, who has works published in 

12 languages and has won an Academy Award in Literature and other prestigious awards and fellowships.

“My work is very much rooted in place,” Phillips said previously. “The sense of hard reality, the edge in my work, I think, comes from having grown up in West Virginia. There’s just no substitute for growing up there.”

The West Virginia and Regional History Center  hosted  Phillips in April  in 

WVU’s Downtown Campus Library. She  read from  “Night Watch” and talked about the process of creating a fictional story in a historically accurate setting.

Phillips’ website, jayneannephillips.com, features research and information on her 

books and essays. An hour-long conversation with Phillips, with downloadable transcripts, is 

available at voicesofwv.org/jayneanneaudio.

The Pulitzers honored the best in journalism from 2023 and arts categories focused on books, music and theater.