2009 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize: Tony Kushner

November 8, 2009

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Photo by Mike Boehmer

The Chicago Humanities Festival hosts the presentation of the annual Chicago Tribune Literary Prize. The prize is part of the Chicago Tribune's ongoing dedication to reading, writing, and ideas.

Tony Kushner's plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels In America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; and Caroline, or Change, a musical with composer Jeanine Tesori.

He has written adaptations of Pierre Corneille's The Illusion, S. Ansky's The Dybbuk, and Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children; as well as English-language libretti for the operas Brundibar by Hans Krasa and The Comedy on the Bridge by Bohuslav Martinu.

He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols's film version of Angels In America, and for Steven Spielberg's film Munich. His books include Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness; Brundibar, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, coedited with Alisa Solomon.

His most recent play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, received its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in May 2009 and will open in New York in 2010.

Kushner, arguably the most acclaimed playwright of his generation, has received numerous accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy Award, an Oscar nomination, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Olivier Award, two Evening Standard Awards, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, two London Drama Critics Circle Awards, a Whiting Writer's Fellowship, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2008, he became the first recipient of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

Kushner has also earned a reputation as one of the most outspoken literary figures in America and, in the vein of Arthur Miller, has insisted through his writing and his public voice on the playwright's role as political provocateur.

The Chicago Tribune Literary Prize honors his contribution to American literature and culture. All proceeds will benefit the Chicago Tribune Holiday Campaign, a campaign of Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund.

 

Recorded Sunday, November 08, 2009 at Symphony Center.