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Brooklyn author claims ‘09 Pulitzer Prize for ‘Ruined’

As accolades and awards continue to pile up for Boerum Hill playwright Lynn Nottage, her heart and soul remains rooted in Brooklyn.

Nottage, who lives in the house where she was raised, was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama last week for her play, “Ruined.”

Set in a Congolese brothel, the play deals with the horrors of wartime rape and brutality while still finding the affirming threads of life and hope amid hopelessness.

“Specifically the idea stemmed from my interest in the war going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Nottage told this newspaper last week.

“I was interested in the impact of armed conflict and specifically in the way women were exploited and sexually violated and forced into prostitution because it’s the only option left for them,” she added.

The Pulitzer comes two years after Nottage received the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant,

“I feel incredibly blessed in that the thing I chose to do and love doing is being recognized,” said Nottage, adding there are people who take this artistic journey and don’t get rewarded.

Nottage said that awards, like criticism, don’t change her relationship with her work, but do encourage her to continue doing it.

Nottage was born and raised in Boerum Hill to a public school teacher mother and social worker father, and is a third−generation Brooklynite.

“What I love about this neighborhood I grew up in is it’s an eclectic nexus point with people passing through from everywhere, and for some reason stop in the neighborhood for awhile,” she said.

Nottage also recalls going to her grandmother’s house on the Bedfore−Stuyvesant⁄Crown Heights border when she was growing up. She said she currently loves going to the restaurants in Fort Greene, and walking through that neighborhood in the spring and summer.

Other neighborhoods that Nottage frequents includes Red Hook and Ditmas Park (where her brother lives), and the beaches in Coney Island and the surrounding area.

Nottage additionally remains committed to the Brooklyn arts scene as an active member of BRIC, the non−profit culture and arts organization overseeing, among other things, BCAT (Brooklyn Community Access Television), the Brooklyn Celebrate concert series in Prospect Park, and the BRIC studio which produces live theater and performance art.

Nottage has also collaborated with several Brooklyn theater groups including Brave New World in Ditmas Park and the Billie Holiday Theatre in Restoration Plaza.

As for her artistic discipline and routine, Nottage labeled herself a “binge writer” while allowing that she does write three or four times a week on a somewhat erratic schedule.

“If I’m blocked during the day, I let it go and forgive myself, and say today is not the day it was meant to happen,” she said.

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