“Primary Trust” By Eboni Booth Wins Pulitzer Prize For Drama

Primary Trust, Eboni Booth’s play that was given an Off Broadway staging by Roundabout Theatre Company last summer, won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Drama today.

The play was described by the Pulitzer board as “A simple and elegantly crafted story of an emotionally damaged man who finds a new job, new friends and a new sense of worth, illustrating how small acts of kindness can change a person’s life and enrich an entire community.”

The critically acclaimed play follows Kenneth, a 38-year-old bookstore worker who, in the words of Roundabout’s synopsis, “spends his evenings sipping mai tais at the local tiki bar. When he’s suddenly laid off, Kenneth finally begins to face a world he’s long avoided – with transformative and even comical results.”

“This is the story of friendship,” Kenneth says in the play. “Of how I got a new job. A story of love and balance and time. And the smallest of chances.”

Primary Trust beat out two other finalists for the drama prize: Here There Are Blueberries by Moisés Kaufman and Amanda Grinch, and Public Obscenities by Shayok Misha Chowdhury.

Here There Are Blueberries, currently being staged by New York Theatre Workshop, is based on true events, and as the synopsis puts it, is set in 2007 when “a mysterious album featuring Nazi-era photographs arrived at the desk of a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum archivist. As curators unraveled the shocking truth behind the images, the album soon made headlines and ignited a debate that reverberated far beyond the museum walls…Here There Are Blueberries tells the story of these historical photographs—what they reveal about the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and our own humanity.”

Public Obscenities is a bi-lingual play “about the things we see, the things we miss, and the things that turn us on,” as the synopsis from Soho Rep, where the play was staged last spring, puts it. Lead character Choton “relishes being the translator, toggling nimbly between Bangla and English, Grindr and academese. But when he returns to his grandfather’s house in Kolkata with his boyfriend Raheem, an unexpected discovery leaves Choton at the limits of language.”

Public Obscenities has also been staged at Woolly Mammoth, Theater for a New Audience, and the 2024 Under the Radar Festival.

Other 2024 arts recipients of the Pulitzer include the following books:

Fiction – Night Watch, by Jayne Anne Phillips (Knopf)
History – No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era, by Jacqueline Jones (Basic Books)
Biography (tie) – King: A Life, by Jonathan Eig (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom, by Ilyon Woo (Simon & Schuster)
Memoir or Autobiography – Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice, by Cristina Rivera Garza (Hogarth)
Poetry – Tripas: Poems, by Brandon Som (Georgia Review Books)
General Nonfiction – A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, by Nathan Thrall (Metropolitan Books)

Adagio (For Wadada Leo Smith), by Tyshawn Sorey won the 2024 Pulitzer for music. A special citation was awarded the late critic Greg Tate, whose writing and pioneering hip-hip criticism “continue to influence subsequent generations, especially writers and critics of color.”

Film critic Justin Chang won the Pulitzer for his criticism last year at the Los Angeles Times. He currently writes for the New Yorker magazine, and began his career at Variety.

For a complete list of 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, visit the awards website.

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