Bruce Norris — brother, oddly enough, of John, the one-time MTV VJ — has won the Pulitzer Prize for drama with his nuanced, envelope-pushing play, "Clybourne Park," a satirical take on race and gentrification that humorously and somewhat scandalously riffs on Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 "A Raisin in the Sun." The playwright had already won the Olivier prize for best new play for the piece, which premiered at New York's Playwrights Horizons last year and which the Pulitzer jury has now deemed "a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America's sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness."[content:shareblock]
Norris, a self-described "whitey," is a slightly odd choice for such a major award — beating out fellow finalists Lisa D'Amour, for "Detroit," and John Guare, for "A Free Man of Color" — mainly because he's never been shy about dropping controversial quotables. Early in 2010 he told New York magazine: "My primary exposure to anyone African-American up until I was 14 was our maid. There's no way to escape the fact that I'm a racist.... I'd like to imagine I was an android who had only pure thoughts, but I'm a human, and I'm an animal. And I think that's true for everyone."[link:view-slideshow]
Furthermore, earlier this year, in conversation with the San Francisco Chronicle, Norris explained his love of theater writing (over possibly writing for film or TV, for instance), by calling himself "a bit of an authoritarian, fascistic control freak" who doesn't like having his work altered by others.[content:advertisement-center]
The 50-year-old author (and frequent actor), whose latest accolade comes with a $10,000 check, also sounded off on his key demographic: "I think theater audiences... are a remarkably sheltered and rarefied bunch — they tend to be rich, relatively speaking (since tickets are so expensive) and they tend to be liberal in their politics, unless we're talking about the people attending 'Phantom of the Opera' or 'The Lion King.' And, unsurprisingly, liberals are the easiest people in the world to offend."
For a full list of this year's Pulitzer winners, including Jennifer Egan, who received the fiction prize for her novel "A Visit From the Goon Squad," and Sebastian Smee, the Boston Globe art writer who nabbed the prize for criticism, click here.