Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday, providing arguably the biggest surprise as the awards for arts and letters were announced Monday in New York.
Lamar is the first hip-hop artist to win the Pulitzer’s music category, which traditionally has honored classical works, even after the category was opened up to jazz and pop in 2005. Jazz master Ornette Coleman won in 2007, but the selection of Lamar is the Pulitzer’s biggest swing toward popular music.
Lamar won his Pulitzer for “Damn.” — the follow-up album to 2015’s searing examination of race in America, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Times pop music criticMikael Wood heralded “Damn.” as the 30-year-old artist’s graduation to pop superstardom. The Pulitzer committee praised the album as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Finalists in the music category were “Quartet” by Michael Gilbertson and “Sound From the Bench” by Ted Hearne.
Other winners in the Letters, Drama and Music categories included Andrew Sean Greer in the fiction category for his sixth book, “Less.” Greer, a novelist and short-story writer living in the Bay Area, wrote “Less” as the global journey of a man running from his middle-age demons.
The Pulitzer committee called the novel “a generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.”
The National Book Review’s Chiara Barzini wrote of the book, “This is no ‘Eat Pray Love’ story of touristic uplift, but rather a grand travelogue of foibles, humiliations and self-deprecation, ending in joy and a dollop of self-knowledge.”
Martyna Majok won the Pulitzer for drama for “Cost of Living.” The play, which played at Manhattan Theatre Company, explores the lives of four individuals: a man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver, and a quadriplegic woman and her husband.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Los Angeles Times