Novelist Andrew Craig has not been sober in a very long time. After losing his wife in an auto accident he believes to have been his own fault, he turned to the bottle and to his sister-in-law, Leah, who acts as his caretaker and live-in nurse. Then, when he is awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his novel, The Perfect State - a historical jab at communism - he heads for Stockholm, hoping to find a reason to live, and to write. The other laureates have their own problems: a heart surgeon who believes that sharing his award with an Italian colleague robs him of his glory, a married couple awarded the prize in medicine in the middle of a serious marital crisis, and others - including Max Stratman, whose heart isn't really up to the trip, but who needs the prize money to provide for niece, Emily.
This novel delves into the lives, loves, dreams, and nightmares of these characters, and others, building a panoramic view of the Nobel Prize, life in Stockholm, and the state of world politics in the years following World War II. It is rich and compelling, driving the reader from the pits of despair to the heights of inspiration. A wonderful novel by one of America's finest novelists, The Prize was made into a movie starring Paul Newman.