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Black Authors: Playwright Wins the Nobel Prize

by on April 22, 2009

Stories of race and gender prevailed at this year’s Pulitzer Prizes, with "Ruined," Lynn Nottage’s harrowing tale of survival set against the backdrop of an African civil war, winning for drama Monday and books about slavery, civil rights and Andrew Jackson also receiving awards.

In a rare victory for the short story, Elizabeth Strout’s "Olive Kitteridge," a collection set in New England and linked by the forthright title character, a math teacher and general scold with an understanding heart. It was the first book of short stories to win since 2000 (Jhumpa Lahiri’s "Interpreter of Maladies").

Three prize winners centered on racial history, from colonial times to the 20th century.

The general nonfiction award went to "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" by Douglas A. Blackmon, Atlanta bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. Newsweek editor Jon Meacham won the biography prize for "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House," a best-seller about the populist president whose sympathy for the less fortunate never extended to slaves.

"Jackson represents the best and the worst of us," Meacham said.

"It’s a huge honor for me," Blackmon said of his Pulitzer, "but more importantly I hope it really validates the idea that this is a part of American history that we have ignored and neglected, and it’s time for a really dramatic reinterpretation of what happened to African-Americans during that period of time."

 

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