Playwright who inspired 'Moonlight' wins PEN award

NEW YORK — The playwright who inspired the Oscar-nominated movie "Moonlight" has won a prize from PEN America, the literary and human rights organization.

Tarell Alvin McCraney received an award for best mid-career playwright, PEN announced Wednesday. McCraney's "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" is the basis for the acclaimed movie drama, which is up for eight nominations at Sunday night's Academy Awards. McCraney is also known for his acclaimed "The Brother/Sister" trilogy.

Suzan-Lori Parks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her play "Topdog/Underdog," received a PEN award for "Master American Dramatist." Thomas Bradshaw, whose works include "Burning" and "The Bereaved," was named best emerging playwright.

Other honors included the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, given to Matthew Desmond for "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City." The Bosnian-born Aleksandar Hemon won the Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History, for "How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement." Named for the author of "Edie" and other oral histories, the Stein grant is a $10,000 award "for an unpublished literary work of nonfiction that uses oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place or movement."

The PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing went to Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss for "Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA." British author Helen Oyeyemi's "What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours" won the PEN Open Book Award for "an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color."

"As global and national political discourse turn toward exclusion, PEN America continues to uphold the humanities' place in fostering coherent dialogue," the organization's president, Andrew Solomon, said in a statement. "Many of this year's honored books explore the social themes that are at the surface of our nation's consciousness." A dozen emerging writers received $2,000 prizes for outstanding debut short stories, including Angela Ajayi for "Galina," Amber Caron for "The Handler" and Emily Chammah for "Tell Me, Please."


A complete list of awards can be found on

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