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Author Patti Hartigan to share her biography of August Wilson at New Dominion Bookshop

Crystal Graham
Patti Hartigan and Leslie M. Scott-Jones
Patti Hartigan (photo by Marisa Ih) and Leslie M. Scott-Jones

New Dominion Bookshop will host a book reading and signing with author Patti Hartigan on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Hartigan will be reading from her new book, August Wilson: A Life, which was released from Simon & Schuster in mid-August.

A conversation with author and director Leslie M. Scott-Jones will follow.

This in-person event will be free to attend and open to the public.

August Wilson: A Life is the first authoritative biography of August Wilson, the most important and successful American playwright of the late 20th century, by a theater critic who knew him.

Wilson wrote a series of 10 plays celebrating African American life in the 20th century, one play for each decade. Two of the plays became successful films: Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman.

Fences and The Piano Lesson won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Fences won the Tony Award for Best Play, and years after Wilson’s death in 2005, Jitney earned a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Wilson developed unforgettable characters who epitomized the trials and triumphs of the African American experience.

Author and theater critic Patti Hartigan traced his ancestry back to slavery, and his plays echo with uncanny similarities to the history of his ancestors. She interviewed Wilson many times before his death.

In August Wilson: A Life, she traces his life from his childhood in Pittsburgh (where nine of the plays take place) to Broadway. She also interviewed scores of friends, theater colleagues and family members and conducted extensive research to tell the story of a writer who left an indelible imprint on American theater and opened the door for future playwrights of color.

As a staff member for The Boston Globe, Hartigan served as arts reporter and drama critic, along with a stint as cyber-culture columnist during the early days of the internet.

She was an inaugural fellow in the Pew Charitable Trust National Arts Journalism Program and spent a year researching inner city arts organizations in Los Angeles. She explored racial inequity in the art word in her award-winning 1991 Globe page-one series, The Fine Arts: A World without Color.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, she now divides her time between Boston and Charlottesville.

Moderator Leslie M. Scott-Jones is an African-American southern woman from Virginia, encompassing all that entails. The world premiere of her first play, Desire Moments, was part of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival. Book Ends, her first full-length novel, hit the shelves in 2016. Not limiting herself to fiction, Leslie has written reviews and thought pieces for CNN, C-VILLE Weekly and Vinegar Hill Magazine.

She became the artistic director of the Charlottesville Player’s Guild, an all-Black theatre company, in 2016. CPG has embarked on a mission to produce all 10 of August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Scott-Jones has starred in Fences; directed Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, Two Trains Running, and Jitney; stage-managed The Piano Lesson; and produced Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

New Dominion Bookshop is located at 404 E Main St. in Charlottesville.

For more information, visit ndbookshop.com.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.