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Hilton Als

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Hilton Als
Born1960 (age 63–64)
New York City, U.S.
  • Writer
  • critic
EducationColumbia University
GenreTheatre criticism
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Criticism
National Book Critics Circle Award Windham–Campbell Literature Prizes

Hilton Als (born 1960) is an American writer and theater critic. He is a teaching professor at the University of California, Berkeley,[1] an associate professor of writing at Columbia University[2] and a staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker.[3] He is a former staff writer for The Village Voice and former editor-at-large at Vibe magazine.

In June 2020, Als was named an inaugural Presidential Visiting Scholar at Princeton University for the 2020–2021 academic year.[4]

Background and career[edit]

Hilton Als was born in New York City, with roots in Barbados.[5] Raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, he has four older sisters and one younger brother.[6] He studied toward a bachelor's in art history from Columbia University.[7]

His 1996 book The Women[8] focuses on his mother (who raised him in Brooklyn), Dorothy Dean, and Owen Dodson, who was a mentor and lover of Als.[9][10][11] In the book, Als explores his identification of the confluence of his ethnicity, gender and sexuality, moving from identifying as a "Negress" and then an "Auntie Man", a Barbadian term for homosexuals.[11] His 2013 book White Girls continued to explore race, gender, identity in a series of essays about everything from the AIDS epidemic to Richard Pryor's life and work.

Als received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2000 for creative writing and the 2002–03 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.[12] In 2004 he won the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin, which provided him half a year of free working and studying in Berlin.[13] In addition to Columbia, he has taught at Smith College, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University, and his work has also appeared in The Nation, The Believer, and the New York Review of Books.

In 2017, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism: "For bold and original reviews that strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context, particularly the shifting landscape of gender, sexuality and race."[14] The Guardian wrote about him a year later: "Since winning his Pulitzer prize for criticism, Hilton Als has risen more visibly to the role of public intellectual, one that he plays particularly well."[15]

As an art curator, Als has been responsible for exhibitions including the group show Forces in Nature (featuring work by such artists as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Peter Doig, Chris Ofili, Celia Paul, Tal R, Sarah Sze, Kara Walker, and Francesca Woodman) in 2015,[16] and most recently an exhibition of work from the Manhattan years of portraitist Alice Neel, entitled Alice Neel, Uptown, at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City and Victoria Miro Gallery in London (May 18 – July 29, 2017).[17][18][19]

Awards and honors[edit]


  • The Women. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 1996. ISBN 978-0374525293.
  • "GWTW". In Allen, James, ed. (2000). Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Twin Palms Publishers. pp. 38–45. ISBN 978-0944092699.
  • Sills, Vaughn (2010). Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens. Foreword. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. ISBN 978-1595340641.
  • White Girls. San Francisco: McSweeney's. 2013. ISBN 978-1940450254.
  • Opie, Catherine (2015). 700 Nimes Road. Contributor. New York: Prestel Publishing. ISBN 978-3791354255.
  • My Pinup: A Paean to Prince. New York: New Directions. 2022. ISBN 978-0811234498.
  • Joan Didion: What She Means. New York: DelMonico Books. 2022. ISBN 978-1636810577. (Companion book to the Hammer Museum exhibition of the same name)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hilton Als faculty page, Department of English, UC Berkeley.
  2. ^ Hilton Als faculty page, Columbia University School of the Arts.
  3. ^ "Hilton Als". The New Yorker.
  4. ^ "Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als named Presidential Visiting Scholar at Princeton". Princeton University. June 15, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Trachtenberg, Peter (November 29, 2013). "I Am He As You Are He As You Are Me And We Are All Together". lareviewofbooks.org. Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  6. ^ Als, Hilton (June 29, 2020). "My Mother's Dreams for Her Son, and All Black Children". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  7. ^ "Collecting the Forgotten – Permanent Collection". permanentcollection.com.
  8. ^ Als, Hilton (1996). The Women. United States of America: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0374525293.
  9. ^ Fusco, Coco (Winter 1997). "The Women". BOMB (58). Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  10. ^ Lee, Andrea (January 5, 1997). "Fatal Limitations". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (January 1, 1997). "Feminine Mystique in the Eyes of an 'Auntie Man'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  12. ^ Crawford, Franklin (December 15, 2003). "Hilton Als, New Yorker critic, wins George Jean Nathan Award". Cornell Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2014..
  13. ^ "Hilton Als – Holtzbrinck Fellow, Class of Fall 2004". American Academy in Berlin. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  14. ^ "The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Criticism | Hilton Als of The New Yorker", The Pulitzer Prizes.
  15. ^ Brockes, Emma (February 2, 2018). "Hilton Als: 'I had this terrible need to confess, and I still do it. It's a bid to be loved'". The Guardian. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  16. ^ "Forces in Nature: Curated by Hilton Als | 13 October – 14 November 2015", Victoria Miro Gallery II.
  17. ^ "Alice Neel, Uptown", Victoria Miro.
  18. ^ Adams, Tim (April 29, 2017). "Meet the neighbours: Alice Neel's Harlem portraits". The Observer.
  19. ^ "Alice Neel, Uptown curated by Hilton Als, David Zwirner, 2017.
  20. ^ "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Archived from the original on January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  21. ^ "Hilton Als". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. February 29, 2016. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  22. ^ "HILTON ALS WINS THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR CRITICISM". The New Yorker. April 10, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  23. ^ "News: The New Yorker is proud to announce a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for its writing". x.eml.condenast.com. April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  24. ^ "Meet The New School's 2018 Honorary Degree Recipients". May 17, 2018. Archived from the original on May 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  25. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2020 Honorees". Queerty. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  26. ^ Bull, Chris (July 11, 2020). "These queer media stars are helping save America from itself". Queerty. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  27. ^ "5 Honorary Degrees to Be Presented at 2024 Commencement". Syracuse University News. April 19, 2024. Retrieved April 19, 2024.

External links[edit]