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Suzan-Lori Parks Receives 22nd Annual Gish Prize

The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of ‘Topdog/Underdog’ joins the ranks of such artists as Ingmar Bergman, Spike Lee, and Isabel Allende.

Suzan-Lori Parks
Suzan-Lori Parks

NEW YORK CITY: Suzan-Lori Parks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, songwriter, and novelist, will receive this year’s Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, awarded annually to artists of accomplishment and distinction. The prize, which will be presented at an official ceremony at the Public Theater on Nov. 30th, is accompanied by a cash reward of $300,000.

“To be a recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is a great honor,” said Parks in a statement. “Past winners—I’ve been looking up to them and following in their footsteps for years. And now I’m invited to join them? It’s brilliantly trippy. And it’s humbling too, getting invited into this family of artists.”

Other members of the Gish Prize “family” include Bob Dylan, Isabel Allende, Frank Gehry, and Arthur Miller. Established in 1994 through the will of Lillian Gish, the film and stage actress known colloquially as “the First Lady of the Screen,” the Gish Prize is bestowed by a rotating selection committee made up of prominent members of the arts community.

Parks, who currently serves as visiting arts professor in dramatic writing at New York University’s Tisch School at the Arts, was the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her 2002 play Topdog/Underdog. Among her literary credits are a number of screenplays (Girl 6, Their Eyes Were Watching God), a novel (Getting Mother’s Body), and several works for the theatre.

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