The Nation Institute, which administers the $100,000 honor along with the Puffin Foundation, presents the annual prize, which "is intended to encourage the recipients to continue their work and to inspire others to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies they face in their own careers." Press materials for the award, which recognized Kushner for "a lifetime of artistic work giving voice to the marginalized, and his outspoken criticism of social injustice," cited a decision by CUNY's board of trustees, who voted to deny Kushner an honorary degree last May over statements he made about Israel. They later reversed their position.
"Whether it is in his epochal work for the stage, his screenwriting, or his activism, Tony Kushner manages to balance realism, rigor, and hope. He has weathered distortions of his thinking with grace and determination. His consistent vision of a just, more thoughtful, less fearful world isn't rooted in an easy sentimentality, but in an understanding that true justice will only be achieved through patience and hard work. For his inspiring contributions to our culture and the world of ideas, we are proud and thrilled to honor him with the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship," Puffin Foundation president Perry Rosenstein said in a statement.
A Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner for Angels in America, Kushner also penned Short Talks on the Universe, A Bright Room Called Day, Slavs!, Hydriotaphia, Homebody/Kabul and the book to the Tony-nominated musical Caroline, or Change. His play The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures was seen at the Public Theater last spring. His adaptations include Corneille's The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage.