Four Yalies win Pulitzer Prize; finalists include professor, alumni

Yale professors and alumni were among the individuals honored by the 2018 Pulitzer Prize committee for their works.

Law School professor James Forman Jr. ’92 J.D. is the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner in General Nonfiction for his book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.”

Alumna Martyna Majok, who earned an M.F.A. at Yale School of Drama, won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play “Cost of Living.”

Law School alum Ronan Farrow and the New Yorker shared a Pulitzer in Journalism (Public Reporting) with The New York Times for exposing the sexual harassment by top figures in Hollywood and elsewhere. Susan Dominus ’92 was among the reporters who contributed to The New York Times coverage on the issue.

Jake Halpern ’97, a freelance writer and lecturer at Yale, shared a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism (Editorial Cartooning) with cartoonist Michael Sloan for a series in The New York Times depicting the struggles of family of refugees.

This year’s Pulitzer finalists also included Yale professor Richard O. Prum (general non-fiction); and School of Music alumni Michael Gilbertson and Ted Hearne (music). Gilbertson is also a current student at the School of Music.

In addition, Philip Rucker ’06 was part of the Washington Post team honored for their reporting on Russian interference in U.S. elections.

James Forman Jr.

Author James Forman Jr.
James Forman Jr. ’92

In “Locking Up Our Own,” published by Farrar, Straus and GirouxForman wonders: How is it that the number of black elected officials has increased dramatically since the Civil Rights Era, alongside an almost equal increase in black incarceration? By exploring the decisions that many black mayors, judges, and police chiefs made – ostensibly in the hopes of stabilizing what they saw as struggling African American communities — Forman shows that these leaders had a significant, albeit unintended, role to play in the creation of the current state of the criminal justice system. The book was also named one of the “10 Best of 2017” by The New York Times.

Martyna Majok

Majok’s “Cost of Living” was staged at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017. The Pulitzer judges described the play as “An honest, original work that invites audiences to examine diverse perceptions of privilege and human connection through two pairs of mismatched individuals: a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.”

Ronan Farrow

Writing of the reporting of The New York Times and the New Yorker about the long-term sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein and other powerful figures, the Pulitzer judges said the “explosive, impactful journalism … exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators, including allegations against one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, bringing them to account for long-suppressed allegations of coercion, brutality and victim silencing, thus spurring a worldwide reckoning about sexual abuse of women.”

Jake Halpern

The eight-part series by Halpern and Sloan, which ran from January to October in The New York Times was “an emotionally powerful series, told in graphic narrative form, that chronicled the daily struggles of a real-life family of refugees and its fear of deportation,” said the Pulitzer judges.

Richard O. Prum

Richard O. Prum
Richard O. Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a professor at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

In “The Evolution of Beauty” he questions whether Darwin’s theory of natural selection can account for the broad variety of life on Earth. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons — for the mere pleasure of it — is an independent engine of evolutionary change.

Prum’s book was also named one of the “10 Best of 2017” by The New York Times.

Michael Gilbertson

Michael Gilbertson
Michael Gilbertson

Gilbertson ’13 Mus.M. is a 2021 D.M.A. candidate at the music school. “Quartet” premiered February 2, 2017 at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City. The Pulitzer judges described the work as “a masterwork in a traditional format, the string quartet, that is unconstrained by convention or musical vogues and possesses a rare capacity to stir the heart.”

Ted Hearne

The recording of Hearne’s “Sound from the Bench” was released on March 24, 2017 by The Crossing. The Pulitzer judges describe it as “a five-movement cantata for chamber choir, electric guitar and percussion that raises oblique questions about the crosscurrents of power through excerpts from sources as diverse as Supreme Court rulings and ventriloquism textbooks.”

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