NEW YORK (AP) — Stories of race, racism and colonialism in the U.S. swept the Pulitzer Prizes for the arts, from Louise Erdrich’s novel “The Night Watchman” to a Malcolm X biography co-written by the late Les Payne to Katori Hall’s play “The Hot Wing King.”
The awards were announced Friday during a remote ceremony that honored the best work in journalism and the arts in 2020, a year defined in part by the police killing of George Floyd and the protests and reckoning which followed.
Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, has drawn upon her background and blended the traditions of oral and written storytelling for such acclaimed novels as “The Round House” and “The Plague of Doves.” She based “The Night Watchman” on the life of her grandfather, a night watchman whose reservation in rural North Dakota is threatened in the 1950s by congressional legislation.
Pulitzer judges called Erdrich’s novel “a majestic, polyphonic novel about a community’s efforts to halt the proposed displacement and elimination of several Native American tribes in the 1950s, rendered with dexterity and imagination.”
It was the first Pulitzer for Erdrich, who turned 67 this week and has been a published author for more than 40 years. Her previous honors include a National Book Award for “The Round House” and the National Book Critics Circle prize for “LaRose.”