Writers of African Descent to Win Pulitzer Prizes (includes Finalists)
Since 1917 the Pulitzer Prize has honored excellence in journalism and the arts. The first award was presented in 1918. The Prize recognizes American authors in six “Letters and Drama” categories; Biography/Autobiography, Fiction, General Non-Fiction, History, Poetry, and Drama (technically not a book award, but plays are all available as books and have been included here).
The first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize in any of the above categories was Gwendolyn Brooks who received the award for poetry for her collection Annie Allen in 1950.
2 Books were Finalists or Winners of Pulitzer Prizes in 2019
Winner - Biography
The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
by Jeffrey C. Stewart
Publication Date: Feb 01, 2018
List Price: $39.95 Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 944
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Alain Locke a tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro — the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness.
In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity.
Stewart explores both Locke’s professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man. Stewart’s thought-provoking biography recreates the worlds of this illustrious, enigmatic man who, in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people, became — in the process — a New Negro himself.
“Locke represents a biographical challenge of unusual difficulty. Superbly educated, dazzlingly intelligent, psychologically complicated, and a cultural analyst and visionary whose books and essays helped to shape our understanding of race and modern American culture, Locke could also be petty and vindictive, manipulative and cruel. Also stamping his identity was his brave commitment to living fully as a gay man, despite its various dangers. Jeffrey Stewart, rising superbly to this challenge, has given us one of the finest literary biographies to appear in recent years.”Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University
Winner - Drama
by Jackie Sibblies Drury
Publication Date: Jul 23, 2019
List Price: $14.95 Format: Paperback
Page Count: 120
Imprint: Theatre Communications Group
An astounding new play about race and power in America, explored through the lens of a family drama.
“Dazzling and ruthless…one of the most exquisitely and systematically arranged ambushes of an unsuspecting audience in years…a glorious, scary reminder of the unmatched power of live theater to rattle, roil and shake us wide awake.” —New York Times
Grandma’s birthday approaches. Beverly is organizing the perfect dinner, but everything seems doomed to go awry—the silverware is all wrong, the radio is on the fritz, and the rest of the family can’t be bothered to lift a hand to help. And yet, what appears at first to be a standard family dramedy takes a sharp, sly turn into a startling examination of deep-seated paradigms about race in America.