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Margulies’ ‘Dinner’ feasts on Pulitzer

'Maladies,' 'Nabokov,' 'Embracing' take home lit Prizes

Donald Margulies’ “Dinner With Friends” has nabbed the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It’s the second consecutive year that the nod has gone to an Off Broadway work that originated in regional theater.

In 1999, the Pulitzer in drama went to Margaret Edson’s “Wit.”

Drama runners-up this year were “In the Blood,” by Suzan-Lori Parks, and “King Hedley II,” by August Wilson.

The fiction prize went to “Interpreter of Maladies,” a first collection of stories by 32-year-old Jhumpa Lahiri, published in paperback by Houghton Mifflin/Mariner in June.

Other 2000 Pulitzer Prizes awarded include “Vera, Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov,” by Stacy Schiff (biography); “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II,” by John W. Dower (nonfiction); “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945,” by David M. Kennedy (history); and “Life Is a Dream, Opera in Three Acts: Act II, Concert Version,” by Lewis Spratlan (music).

The 84th annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, letters, drama and music were announced Monday by Columbia U. president George Rupp.

Born in Louisville

“Dinner With Friends” was originally commissioned by the Actors Theater of Louisville and had its world premiere at the 1998 Humana Festival of New American Plays. A revised version was produced later that year by South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa.

The play about two couples, one of which gets a divorce, opened on Nov. 4, 1999, at the Variety Arts Theater, where it continues to be performed.

A French version of the play, entitled “Diner entre amis,” opened at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees in Paris last fall.

The writer’s other plays include “Collected Stories,” “The Model Apartment” and “Sight Unseen.” His adaptation of Sholem Asch’s 1906 play “God of Vengeance” is in previews at A Contemporary Theater in Seattle.

Sales spike

Though it’s already won the PEN/Hemingway prize and the New Yorker prize for debut of the year, “Maladies” was a dark horse for the Pulitzer. It can now expect a significant sales spike.

There were only 40,000 copies in print of last year’s winner, Michael Cunningham’s “The Hours,” before it received the prize. Subsequently, the book hit the bestseller lists, and publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux eventually sold 118,000 copies in hardcover. Issued this winter in paperback, it has been back on bestseller lists for two months.

There are now 48,000 copies of “Maladies” in print. But Houghton Mifflin/Mariner, which issued the collection in June, will immediately go back to press for 50,000 more.

Other winners

The Washington Post won for public service, criticism and feature photography. The Wall Street Journal took honors for national reporting and commentary (for Paul Gigot’s columns). The Associated Press won for investigative reporting; the Denver Post (breaking news reporting) and the Denver Rocky Mountain News (spot news photography) won for Columbine High coverage. The Village Voice took the international reporting prize.

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