Conversations

A Conversation with Novelist E.L. Doctorow and Writer Tony Kushner

  • January 19, 2006

Overview

For its inaugural event, the Forum invited literary heavyweights E.L. Doctorow and Tony Kushner to speak about the famous trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were convicted of being spies for the Soviet Union. The two writers discussed why the fate of the Rosenbergs continues to inspire the artistic imagination.

Doctorow is generally considered to be among the most important novelists of the second half of the 20th century, having won the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, and the PEN/Faulkner Award, among others. Tony Kushner wrote the Broadway blockbuster Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, and two Drama Desk Awards.

Bios

Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner was born in Manhattan and grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and later did postgraduate work at New York University. In the early 1980s, he founded a theater group and began writing and producing plays. In the early 1990s, he scored a monster hit with the epic, seven-hour, two-part Broadway blockbuster Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which earned Kushner a plethora of commendations—including the Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, and two Drama Desk Awards—and was subsequently adapted into the Emmy and Golden Globe awards-winning HBO film directed by Mike Nichols. Kushner has also written A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!, as well as several adaptations including Goethe’s Stella, Brecht’s The Good Person of Setzuan, Corneille’s The Illusion, and S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk. He most recently co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s film, Munich. More

E.L. Doctorow

Named for Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in New York City, attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduated with honors from Kenyon College, and did graduate work at Columbia University. He began to devote himself full time to writing and teaching in 1969, and today is generally considered to be among the most important novelists of the second half of the 20th century. He has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the American  Academy of Arts and Letters, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. Doctorow’s third novel, The Book of Daniel, was adapted in 1983 into the film Daniel, starring Timothy Hutton and directed by Sidney Lumet. His subsequent novel, Ragtime, was named one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by More