Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has been diagnosed with liver cancer and told a newspaper in his native Pittsburgh that he is dying.
Wilson, 60, who lives in Seattle, was diagnosed with the ailment in June.
“It’s not like poker, you can’t throw your hand in,” Wilson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a story published Friday. “I’ve lived a blessed life. I’m ready.”
Wilson has recently been completing his 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in 20th-century America — one play for each decade.
Two plays in the cycle, “Fences” and “The Piano Lesson,” earned Pulitzer Prizes. The 10th play, “Radio Golf,” is now running at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
Wilson’s personal assistant, Deanna Levitin, told The Seattle Times until very recently, Wilson was working on rewrites of “Radio Golf,” and that people close to him remain optimistic.
“One of the things I’m proudest of in my career is producing so much of August’s work here,” Seattle Repertory Theater managing director Benjamin Moore said. “I’m going to believe that since August is such a feisty guy, he’ll meet this health challenge like he’s met the challenge of writing an extraordinary cultural history.”
Wilson has lived in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1990. He and his wife, Constant Romero, a costume designer he married in 1994, have a daughter, Azula. Wilson also has a daughter from an earlier marriage.
“He’s taking (the cancer) very well, with a lot of strength and determination,” his wife told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “It’s so hard when an illness falls on you. He has so many plans for working.”
The Pittsburgh newspaper said doctors had recommended drug therapy followed by a liver transplant, but the disease proved too far advanced. Wilson said his physicians told him then that he had three to five months to live.