October 2, 2005

Award-winning U.S. playwright August Wilson dies

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Pulitzer Prize-winning black playwright
August Wilson, whose cycle of plays chronicling 20th-century
African-American life brought a new frankness to the way
theater dealt with race, died of liver cancer on Sunday in
Seattle, a hospital spokesman said. He was 60.

Wilson disclosed his illness in August when a spokeswoman
said he may have only months to live.

He spent part of the last months of his life working on
"Radio Golf," the 10th and final play in what has become known
as his "Pittsburgh Cycle."

"Radio Golf" opened in Los Angeles last July to reviews
that called it a fitting last chapter in a series of plays that
dramatized the hopes and frustrations of black life through
every decade of the 20th century, starting with characters that
remembered slavery and ending with characters aiming at wealth
and political power.

All but one of the plays, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," were
set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh where Wilson grew up.

Many critics compared Wilson's Hill stories to William
Faulkner's novels set in Mississippi's mythical Yoknapatawpha

"I've lived a blessed life. I'm ready," Wilson told his
hometown newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in August.

(Additional reporting by Arthur Spiegelman in Los Angeles)