Between Riverside And Crazy, Guirgis’ comic drama about an elderly ex-policman and the motley of family and friends who weave in and out of his Riverside Drive apartment, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. L.A. Times television critic Mary McNamara received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. The 18-member Pulitzer board cited her “savvy criticism that uses shrewdness, humor and an insider’s view to show how both subtle and seismic shifts in the cultural landscape affect television.”
The 99th annual Pulitzers, regarded as the highest awards in journalism and the arts, were announced this afternoon during a press conference at Columbia University, which administers the prizes.
Guirgis is a protege of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor and co-artistic director of the New York-based off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company, where many of his plays were first produced. Between Riverside And Crazy. His first Broadway play, The Motherf*cker With The Hat, had its premiere in 2011 in a production that starred Chris Rock, Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra. Between Riverside And Crazy, starred Stephen McKinley Henderson as the wheelchair bound ex-cop determined to fight eviction while offering advice, solace, criticism and hope to his troubled family and friends.
Among his acting credits is Guirgis’ fleeting came as a saving angel to Michael Keaton’s struggling former star in Birdman.
The finalists for the drama prize were Marjorie Prime, by Jordan Harrison, and Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3), by Suzan-Lori Parks, who is playwright in residence at the Public Theater.
The finalist in the criticism category were New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis and Village Voice film critic Stephanie Zacharek.
Here’s the complete list of winners:
The 99th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced today by Columbia University.
The winners in each category, along with the names of the finalists in the competition, follow:
A. PRIZES IN JOURNALISM 1. PUBLIC SERVICE
For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.
Awarded to The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., for “Till Death Do Us Part,” a riveting series that probed why South Carolina is among the deadliest states in the union for women and put the issue of what to do about it on the state’s agenda.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: The Boston Globe for its stories, videos, photos and graphics exposing a poorly regulated, profit-driven housing system that subjected thousands of college students in Boston to unsafe, and even deadly, conditions, and The Wall Street Journal for “Deadly Medicine,” a stellar
reporting project that documented the significant cancer risk to women of a common surgery and prompted a change in the prescribed medical treatment.
2. BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
For a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news that, as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as time passes, illuminates, provides context and expands upon the initial coverage, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to The Seattle Times Staff for its digital account of a landslide that killed 43 people and the impressive follow-up reporting that explored whether the calamity could have been avoided.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: The Buffalo News Staff for a superbly reported and written account of a lake-effect snowstorm, using human detail to illuminate the story and multimedia elements to help readers through the storm, and the Los Angeles Times Staff for a quick but thoughtful response to a shooting spree, beginning with minute-by-minute digital storytelling and evolving into print coverage that delved into the impact of the tragedy.
3. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
For a distinguished example of investigative reporting, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Two prizes of $10,000 each:
Awarded to Eric Lipton of The New York Times for reporting that showed how the influence of lobbyists can sway congressional leaders and state attorneys general, slanting justice toward the wealthy and connected.
Awarded to The Wall Street Journal Staff for “Medicare Unmasked,” a pioneering project that gave Americans unprecedented access to previously confidential data on the motivations and practices of their health care providers.
Also nominated as a finalist in this category was: David Jackson, Gary Marx and Duaa Eldeib of the Chicago Tribune for their exposé of the perils faced by abused children placed in Illinois’s residential treatment centers.
4. EXPLANATORY REPORTING
For a distinguished example of explanatory reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News for a painstaking, clear and entertaining explanation of how so many U.S. corporations dodge taxes and why lawmakers and regulators have a hard time stopping them.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: John Ingold, Joe Amon and Lindsay Pierce of The Denver Post for an intimate and troubling portrayal of how Colorado’s relaxed marijuana laws have drawn hundreds of parents to the state to seek miracle cures for desperately ill children, and Joan Biskupic, Janet Roberts and John Shiffman of Reuters for using data analysis to reveal how an elite cadre of lawyers enjoy extraordinary access to the U.S. Supreme Court, raising doubts about the ideal of equal justice.
5. LOCAL REPORTING
For a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci of the Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif., for their inquiry into widespread corruption in a small, cash-strapped school district, including impressive use of the paper’s website.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Joe Mahr, Joseph Ryan and Matthew Walberg of the Chicago Tribune for their probe into government corruption in a Chicago suburb, using public records, human stories and shoe- leather reporting to lay out the consequences, and Ziva Branstetter and Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa World for courageous reporting on the execution process in Oklahoma after a botched execution – reporting that began a national discussion.
6. NATIONAL REPORTING
For a distinguished example of reporting on national affairs, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post for her smart, persistent coverage of the Secret Service, its security lapses and the ways in which the
agency neglected its vital task: the protection of the President of the United States.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Marisa Taylor, Jonathan Landay and Ali Watkins of McClatchy Newspapers for timely coverage of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, demonstrating initiative and perseverance in overcoming government efforts to hide the details, and Walt Bogdanich and Mike McIntire of The New York Times for stories exposing preferential police treatment for Florida State University football players who are accused of sexual assault and other criminal offenses.
7. INTERNATIONAL REPORTING
For a distinguished example of reporting on international affairs, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to The New York Times Staff for courageous front-line reporting and vivid human stories on Ebola in Africa, engaging the public with the scope and details of the outbreak while holding authorities accountable.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Richard Marosi and Don Bartletti of the Los Angeles Times for reporting on the squalid conditions and brutal practices inside the multibillion dollar industry that supplies vegetables from Mexican fields to American supermarkets, and Ned Parker and a team from Reuters for intrepid reports of the disintegration of Iraq and the rise of ISIS, linking the developing catastrophe to a legacy of sectarianism, corruption and violence seeded by the U.S. invasion.
8. FEATURE WRITING
For distinguished feature writing giving prime consideration to quality of writing, originality and concision, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Diana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times for her dispatches from California’s Central Valley offering nuanced portraits of lives affected by the state’s drought, bringing an original and empathic perspective to the story.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Sarah Schweitzer of The Boston Globe for her masterful narrative of one scientist’s mission to save a rare whale, a beautiful story fortified by expansive reporting, a quiet lyricism and disciplined use of multimedia, and Jennifer Gonnerman of The New Yorker for a taut, spare, devastating re-creation of the three-year imprisonment of a young man at Rikers
Island, much of it spent in solitary confinement, after he was arrested for stealing a backpack.
For distinguished commentary, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle for vividly-written, groundbreaking columns about grand jury abuses that led to a wrongful conviction and other egregious problems in the legal and immigration systems.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: the late David Carr of The New York Times for columns on the media whose subjects range from threats to cable television’s profit-making power to ISIS’s use of modern media to menace its enemies, and Matthew Kaminski of The Wall Street Journal for columns from Ukraine, sometimes reported near heavy fighting, deepening readers’ insights into the causes behind the conflict with Russia and the nature and motives of the people involved.
For distinguished criticism, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times for savvy criticism that uses shrewdness, humor and an insider’s view to show how both subtle and seismic shifts in the cultural landscape affect television.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Manohla Dargis of The New York Times for film criticism that rises from a sweeping breadth of knowledge – social, cultural, cinematic – while always keeping the viewer front and center, and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice, a New York City weekly, for film criticism that combines the pleasure of intellectual exuberance, the perspective of experience and the transporting power of good writing.
11. EDITORIAL WRITING
For distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe for taking readers on a tour of restaurant workers’ bank accounts to expose the real price of inexpensive menu items and the human costs of income inequality.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Tony Messenger and Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for editorials that brought insight and context to the national tragedy of Ferguson, MO, without losing sight of the community’s needs, and Jill Burcum of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, for well- written and well-reported editorials that documented a national shame by taking readers inside dilapidated government schools for Native Americans.
12. EDITORIAL CARTOONING
For a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing and pictorial effect, published as a still drawing, animation or both, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News, who used strong images to connect with readers while conveying layers of meaning in a few words.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Kevin Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun for simple, punchy cartoons with a classic feel lampooning the hypocrisy of not just his subjects but also his readers, and Dan Perkins, drawing as Tom Tomorrow, of Daily Kos for cartoons that create an alternate universe — an America frozen in time whose chorus of conventional wisdom is at odds with current reality.
13. BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY
For a distinguished example of breaking news photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photography Staff for powerful images of the despair and anger in Ferguson, MO, stunning photojournalism that served the community while informing the country.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev and Uriel Sinai of The New York Times for photographs that portrayed the conflict in Ukraine in an intimate way, showing how the battle for power crushed the lives of people, and Tyler Hicks, Sergey Ponomarev and Wissam Nassar of The New York Times for capturing key moments in the human struggle in Gaza and providing a fresh take on a long, bloody conflict.
14. FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
For a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Daniel Berehulak, freelance photographer, The New York Times, for his gripping, courageous photographs of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Bulent Kilic of Agence France- Presse in Washington, D.C., for his compelling photographs of Kurds fleeing ISIS attacks in small Kurdish towns on the Syrian-Turkish border, and Bob Owen, Jerry Lara and Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News for chilling photographs that document the hard road Central American migrants must follow to seek refuge in the United States.
B. LETTERS AND DRAMA PRIZES 1. FICTION
For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
￼￼Awarded to “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner), an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the
￼contradictory power of technology.
￼Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Let Me Be Frank with You,” by Richard Ford (Ecco), an unflinching series of narratives, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, insightfully portraying a society in decline, “The Moor’s
Account,” by Laila Lalami (Pantheon), a creative narrative of the ill-fated 16th Century Spanish expedition to Florida, compassionately imagined out of the gaps and silences of history, and “Lovely, Dark, Deep,” by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco), a rich collection of stories told from many rungs of the social ladder and distinguished by their intelligence, language and technique.
For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
￼Awarded to “Between Riverside and Crazy,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis, a nuanced, beautifully written play about a retired police officer faced with eviction that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death.
For a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Marjorie Prime,” by Jordan Harrison, a sly and surprising work about technology and artificial intelligence told through images and ideas that resonate, and “Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3),” by Suzan-Lori Parks, a distinctive and lyrical epic about a slave during the Civil War that deftly takes on questions of identity, power and freedom with a blend of humor and dignity.
￼￼Awarded to “Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People,” by Elizabeth A. Fenn (Hill and Wang), an engrossing, original narrative showing the Mandans, a Native American tribe in the Dakotas, as a people with a history.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Empire of Cotton: A Global History,” by Sven Beckert (Alfred A. Knopf), a work of staggering scholarship arguing that slavery was crucial to the dynamism of the industrial revolution, and “An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America,” by Nick Bunker (Alfred A. Knopf), a bifocal perspective on the countdown to the American Revolution, placing the war within a broader crisis of globalization.
For a distinguished and appropriately documented biography or autobiography by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to “The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe,” by David I. Kertzer (Random House), an engrossing dual biography that uses recently opened Vatican archives to shed light on two men who exercised nearly absolute power over their realms.
￼Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism,” by Thomas Brothers (W.W. Norton), the masterfully researched second volume of a life of the musical pioneer, effectively showing him in the many milieus where he lived and worked in the 1920s and 1930s, and “Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928,” by Stephen Kotkin (Penguin Press), a superbly
￼researched tour de force of pre- and post-revolutionary Russian history told through the life of Joseph Stalin.
For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
6. GENERAL NONFICTION
For a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
￼Awarded to “Digest,” by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books), clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.
￼Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Reel to Reel,” by Alan Shapiro (University of Chicago Press), finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse, and “Compass Rose,” by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press), a collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our inter-connected world.
￼￼￼Awarded to “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt), an exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behavior to a world of astonishing diversity.
￼Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “No Good Men Among the Living,” by Anand Gopal (Metropolitan Books), a remarkable work of nonfiction storytelling that exposes the cascade of blunders that doomed America’s misbegotten intervention in Afghanistan, and “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” by Evan Osnos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the story of a vast country and society in the grip of transformation, calmly surveyed, smartly reported and portrayed with exacting strokes.
C. PRIZE IN MUSIC
For distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
￼Awarded to “Anthracite Fields,” by Julia Wolfe, premiered on April 26,
￼2014, in Philadelphia by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Mendelssohn Club Chorus, a powerful oratorio for chorus and sextet evoking Pennsylvania coal-mining life around the turn of the 20th Century (Red Poppy/G. Schirmer, Inc.).
￼Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Xiaoxiang,” by Lei Liang, premiered on March 28, 2014, in Boston by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra, inspired by a widow’s wail and blending the curious sensations of grief and exhilaration (Schott Music Corporation), and “The Aristos,” by John Zorn, premiered on December 21, 2014, in New York City, a parade of stylistically diverse sounds for violin, cello and piano that create a vivid
￼demonstration of the brain in fluid, unpredictable action.