Illustration by Maria Manhattan
Suzan-Lori Parks was born on May 10, 1963 in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the daughter of an army colonel. The family moved around a lot, including a time in Germany during which Parks attended a German high school. She was writing stories at age five and graduated cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College where she studied fiction with novelist, essayist, and playwright, James Baldwin (1924-1987). Baldwin encouraged her to try her hand at writing plays. Her many awards include a 2001 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and Obie Awards for Venus, 1996 and Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom, 1990. Parks wrote the screenplay for Spike Lee’s Girl Six and won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Topdog/Underdog, 2001; a play about sibling rivalry and family identity.