Just prior to his death in 2005, August Wilson, arguably the most important American playwright of the last quarter-century, completed an ambitious cycle of ten plays, each set in a different decade of the twentieth century. Known as the Twentieth-Century Cycle or the Pittsburgh Cycle, the plays, which portrayed the struggles of African Americans, won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, a Tony Award for Best Play, and seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. ""August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle"" is the first volume devoted to the last five plays of the cycle individually - Jitney, Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf - and in the context of Wilson's entire body of work. Editor Alan Nadel's ""May All Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson"", a work Henry Louis Gates called definitive, focused on the first five plays of Wilson's cycle. This new collection examines from myriad perspectives the way Wilson's final works give shape and focus to his complete dramatic opus. It contains an outstanding and diverse array of discussions from leading Wilson scholars and literary critics. Together, the essays in Nadel's two volumes give Wilson's work the breadth of analysis and understanding that this major figure of American drama merits.
Alan Nadel is professor of literature and film at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and author of Invisible Criticism: Ralph Ellison and the American Canon; Containment Culture: American Narratives, Postmodernism, and the Atomic Age; and Flatlining on the Field of Dreams: Cultural Narratives in the Films of President Reagan's America.