Critical Context

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In 1963, Suzan-Lori Parks was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky. As a result of her father’s military career, she moved quite often, spending her high school years as a foreign student in Germany. As an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, she studied with James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write for the stage. Others who have had an influence on her style include Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, William Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf.

In the Blood received its premiere in November, 1999, at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2000, an award that Parks received two years later for Topdog/Underdog (pr., pb. 2001). In the Blood was published in the March, 2000, issue of American Theatre.

Critics have lauded Parks as a voice of confidence during her career as a playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. In addition to winning the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, Parks was recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship (the so-called “genius” grant) in October, 2001. Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (pr. 1991-1992, pb. 1992-1993), has referred to Parks as the best contemporary American playwright.

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