Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, already among the most popular and celebrated novels of the past year, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. One of the country’s top colonial historians, Alan Taylor, has won his second Pulitzer, for The Internal Enemy — Slavery and War In Virginia.

The Washington Post and the Guardian have won Pulitzer Prizes in public service for revealing the massive U.S. government surveillance effort.

The awards, American journalism’s highest honour, were announced on Monday.

The newspapers’ disclosures about the National Security Agency's spy programs show the U.S. government has collected information about millions of Americans' phone calls and emails based on its classified interpretations of laws passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The stories are based on thousands of documents handed over by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Boston Globe has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news, and The New York Times has won two Pulitzers in photography categories — Tyler Hicks was honoured in the breaking news category for documenting the Westgate mall terrorist attack in Kenya, and Josh Haner was cited for his essay on a Boston Marathon bomb blast victim who lost his legs.

The Center for Public Integrity won the award for investigative reporting for reports on how some lawyers and doctors rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease.

The Pulitzer for explanatory reporting was given to The Washington Post for reporting on the prevalence of food stamps in America.

No award was handed out for feature writing.

Annie Baker's The Flick won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, a play set in a movie theater that was called a "thoughtful drama with well-crafted characters" which created "lives rarely seen on the stage".

In The Flick, three relatively youthful, low-paid employees work together in a rundown movie theater in Massachusetts that still shows 35-millimetre movies on film. Everyday jealousies, disappointments and anger share the stage with jokes, chit-chat, occasional poignant revelations and a lot of workplace tedium.

The award for general nonfiction went to Dan Fagin’s Toms River, an acclaimed chronicle of industrial destruction in small New Jersey community. Megan Marshall’s Margaret Fuller, about the 19th century transcendentalist, won for biography; and Vijay Seshadri’s witty and philosophical 3 Sections received the poetry prize.