» In this spring’s off-Broadway production of Gina Gionfriddo’s dark comedy After Ashley, at the Vineyard Theatre, Kieran Culkin (above) played a teenager who became infamous as “the 911 kid” after he called in the discovery of his mother’s rape and murder. The boy’s father capitalizes on the loss by writing a true-crime bestseller, which gives the play its title, and then hosting a TV show about sex crimes. Widely praised at the 2004 Humana Festival of New American Plays, After Ashley pillories the media, especially shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which one character singles out for its “death porn.” Paradoxically, the Chicago Tribune reported April 10 that Gionfriddo ’97 MFA  “has since become a staff writer on, yes, Law & Order, though not on Special Victims Unit. She’s on Criminal Intent.”

» In April, Marilynne Robinson ’66 won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her second novel, Gilead, which Katherine A. Powers, writing in the March/April BAM, said “succeeds as few novels do in giving narrative flesh to abstract theological investigations.” Author of the 1981 novel Housekeeping (also a Pulitzer finalist) and two books of nonfiction, Robinson teaches at the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. 

» This year’s Pulitzer for explanatory reporting went to alumnus Gareth Cook ’91, a reporter at the Boston Globe, “for explaining, with clarity and humanity, the complex scientific and ethical dimensions of stem-cell research.” The Pulitzer comes with a $10,000 cash award.