Even if you’re not an arts or literature aficionado, it’s likely you’ve heard of a little old prize called the Pulitzer. Going into its 101st year, the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on April 10, and two Consortium authors received this incredible honor!
OLIO by Tyehimba Jess won in the poetry category, “For a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.” Though the Pulitzer is always an honor, it’s really no surprise, as earlier this year OLIO was named a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. OLIO’s win is a major milestone for Wave Books, with this being the first time a title from Wave Books has earned a Pulitzer Prize. As Matthew Zapruder, Editor-at-Large at Wave Books notes, “We are thrilled for Tyehimba, and truly honored to be his publisher. This feels like a victory for the entire independent publishing ecosystem, which supports exceptional artists like Tyehimba Jess and smaller presses like Wave Books, so we can continue to do this work and share it with readers.” OLIO is truly a title in a league of its own, a three-hundred page poetic masterpiece that weaves sonnet and song to examine the lives of the mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War to WWI. Congratulations to Wave Books on their stunning first Pulitzer Prize winner!
Sweat by Lynn Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize in the drama category, “For a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.” As the first female playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama twice (Ruined won in 2009), Nottage gives a new meaning to breaking the glass ceiling. With Sweat, she crafts a tragedy about the working class of Reading, Pennsylvania. In the words of Charles Isherwood in the New York Times “From first moments to last, this compassionate but clear-eyed play throbs with heartfelt life, with characters as complicated as any you’ll encounter at the theater today, and with a nifty ticking time bomb of a plot. That the people onstage are middle-class or lower-middle-class folks — too rarely given ample time on American stages — makes the play all the more vital a contribution to contemporary drama. . . . If I had pompoms, I’d be waving them now.” Congratulations to Theatre Communications Group!