Rapper Kendrick Lamar, Queer Novelist Among Pulitzer Prize Winners


The Pulitzers are officially woke, y’all.

Kendrick Lamar just won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album, Damn, becoming the first rapper to ever do so. He also happened to share the stage with Andrew Sean Greer, who won the fiction Pulitzer for his unabashedly queer novel Less, a comical look at a middle-aged author who just can’t get any younger. You may have seen the title pop up in Meetup groups for queer reading circles recently and subsequently ignored it — but now, much like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, it will not be ignored.

For reference: the Pulitzer Prize for Music usually goes to operas, jazz quartets, and orchestral compositions, a.k.a. old white people music. But the Pulitzer committee must have finally noticed that rap can be as literate as any other art form, because it described Damn 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.” Damn. (…Is what our description of the album was. The Pulitzer committee clearly put more thought into theirs.)

Sure enough, Lamar’s main competitors this year were a cantata and a quartet, whose composers no doubt put their hearts and souls into their work, even though they didn’t talk enough about “ni**as tappin’ they pockets.” Here’s hoping they’re able to compose cantatas and quartets about their present heartbreak for next year — unless, of course, Adele beats them next year. We’re just happy the Pulitzer committee didn’t give this award to Bruno Mars.

As for Andrew Sean Greer’s win for Less, his triumph was actually a surprise upset over nominees including Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, an experimental look at the chaos of life, and Hernan Diaz’s In the Distance, a fictional travelogue of a little Swedish boy. Better luck at the National Book Awards, little Swedish boy.

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