US author Cormac McCarthy has won this year's Pulitzer prize for fiction.
McCarthy's novel was also chosen for Oprah Winfrey's book club
The 73-year-old wins $10,000 (£5,000) for his 10th novel, The Road, which follows a father and son's struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, 77, was honoured in the music category for his live recording Sound Grammar.
In journalism, The Wall Street Journal took two prizes, including the public service award for a probe into stock options which rocked corporate America.
Managing editor Paul Steiger called the series of stories "tremendous pieces of work" that "resulted in more than 100 companies coming under investigation and many companies having to restate their earnings".
The newspaper also won the international reporting award for its coverage of China.
The Associated Press news agency won the Pulitzer in breaking news photography for a dramatic picture of a lone Jewish woman trying to resist scores of Israeli security officers as they removed settlers from the West Bank.
"I fell like today I kissed the moon," said photographer Oded Balilty, who works at the agency's Jerusalem bureau.
A series of articles in the New York Daily News on behalf of Ground Zero workers suffering health problems won the prize for editorial writing.
In the drama category, the Pulitzer board could not agree on a winner from the three finalists submitted by the jury.
In the end, they chose a play that was not on the shortlist - David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole, about a wealthy, suburban couple whose son is struck by a car and killed.
"It's a surprise," said the playwright, who is currently working on a stage adaptation of the children's movie Shrek.
"I had processed months ago that it wasn't on the cards," he told the Associated Press, "so I was just going about my day trying desperately to write a lyric for Shrek!"
The Pulitzer for biography went to Debby Applegate for her investigation of social reformer Henry Ward Beecher, whose 1875 trial for adultery caused shockwaves in the US.
Applegate said she had worked on The Most Famous Man in America for 20 years, originally planning it as a university assignment.
The prize for poetry went to Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey and the general non-fiction award went to The Looming Tower, a best-selling investigation of the 11 September terrorist attacks on America by Lawrence Wright.
Special citations were also awarded to science fiction author Ray Bradbury and the late jazz musician John Coltrane.
The Pulitzers were created in 1911 under terms of the will of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.
The first prizes were bestowed in his honour in 1917, with literature, music and poetry categories added in later years.
Each winner takes home $10,000 (£5,000), except for the recipient of the public service journalism award, who gets a gold medal.