Playwrights Tarell Alvin McCraney, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Naomi Wallace are among nine winners of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, a new award administered by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscripts Library.
Each of the winners will receive $150,000. The others chosen for the inaugural Windham-Campbell prizes are James Salter, Zoë Wicomb, and Tom McCarthy in fiction, and Adina Hoffman, Jeremy Scahill, and Jonny Steinberg in nonfiction.
The work of the winning playwrights has been featured on Boston-area stages in recent years. Last fall, SpeakEasy Stage Company produced Guirgis’s “The [Expletive] With the Hat,’’ while in 2011, Company One presented the dramas (“In the Red and Brown Water,’’ “The Brothers Size,’’ and “Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet’’) that make up “The Brother/Sister Plays, ’’ McCraney’s much-lauded trilogy. In 2010, Wallace’s “The Fever Chart: Three Visions of the Middle East,’’ a triptych of short plays, was produced by Underground Railway Theater at Central Square Theater
In a statement accompanying the announcement, which was made by the library Monday, Wallace pronounced herself “as happy as a delirious clam,’’ adding: “This prize is enormously important at a time when the arts are increasingly embattled.’’ McCraney called it “an extraordinary blessing to be named an inaugural recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize at Yale. An added honor to do so alongside such incredible artists whom I admire greatly.’’
Guirgis said in a statement that he considers the prize “to be like a contract: you have chosen to show an incredible amount of faith in me, and I, in turn, hope to reward that faith by using the resources and support given me to create new work for our theater and to be there for our young artists – to aid their process in any way I can.’’
The prizes are funded by the estate of the late writer Donald Windham, who died three years ago.