Andrea Elliot of the New York Times won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for her portrayal of an immigrant imam living in the United States:
The imam begins his trek before dawn, his long robe billowing like a ghost through empty streets. In this dark, quiet hour, his thoughts sometimes drift back to the Egyptian farming village where he was born.
But as the sun rises over Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Sheik Reda Shata’s new world comes to life. The R train rattles beneath a littered stretch of sidewalk, where Mexican workers huddle in the cold. An electric Santa dances in a doughnut shop window. Neon signs beckon. Gypsy cabs blare their horns.
The imam slips into a plain brick building, nothing like the golden-domed mosque of his youth. He stops to pray, and then climbs the cracked linoleum steps to his cluttered office. The answering machine blinks frantically, a portent of the endless questions to come.
[Continue reading A Muslim Leader in Brooklyn]
Also nominated as a finalist was Christopher Goffard of the St. Petersburg Times for his series about a local public defender:
TAMPA – The day of his job interview, he pulls on his one good suit to find it no longer fits. The navy slacks and coat, bought off the rack from JCPenney, are uncomfortably tight. He stands in the mirror, practicing his answers. Around his neck goes the gold tie from Ross Dress for Less. Under his chin, a daub of Versace cologne that may or may not mask his desperation.
At 27, two years out of law school and a year out of steady work, Charley Demosthenous has been living in his father’s spare Zephyrhills doublewide, minus heating. His diet is red meat, beer, Seinfeld. He has blanketed the private law firms with resumes, but no one’s eager to hire an inexperienced attorney who finished near the bottom of his class and failed the Florida Bar exam three times.
He’s $17,000 in debt, surviving on bank loans and credit cards. His dad, fed up, wants him to apply at Lowe’s. On the line that says “Education,” he’d have the keen humiliation of writing Juris Doctorate, University of Florida, Class of 2002.
[Continue reading The $40 Lawyer]