The journalist Bill Moyers declared Ayad Akhtar, an “actor, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, with an ever-soliciting eye for the wickedness and wonders of the world,” to be the voice of our times. Akhtar’s debut novel American Dervish (2012) was widely praised, and his play Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2013. His most recent dramatic effort, JUNK, ended a three-month run at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in January, and was honored with the 2018 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.
What’s next for this ambitious Pakistani American writer? A clean slate. “I will be working on new material, both fiction and dramatic,” he said. Akhtar’s lecture at the Academy in February 2018 addressed “thematic axes of recent work having to do with finance and its practical and ideological dominance today. I wrote about this preliminarily in JUNK … and I will likely continue to explore this theme, though not exclusively, in future work.”