Katori Hall Wins 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Playwright Katori Hall, ART ’05, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in drama on Friday for The Hot Wing King, set in her hometown of Memphis. It follows a black gay couple and their extended family as they prepare recipes for competition in the city’s annual hot-wing festival. In announcing the award, the Pulitzer Prize board called the play “a funny, deeply felt consideration of black masculinity and how it is perceived.” Speaking last year to Harvard Magazine, just after the pandemic had shuttered the production early, Hall said, “With this play, I wanted to embrace the articulation of black life and not necessarily black trauma, so the piece is infused with joy and love and jokes. I did not set out to make a comedy, but I saved space for people to laugh—black audiences laugh out of recognition, so there’s a lot of moments that feel like, ‘Oh that’s my brother,’ or ‘My momma used to say that.’”
Former Nieman fellow Michael Paul Williams, NF ’00, a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was also honored, winning a Pulitzer in the journalism commentary category for his “penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy.”
Updated June 12, 2021, 8:45 p.m.: Daniel Mason ’98 was a finalist in the fiction category for his latest work, the collection titled A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth.