James Alan McPherson was a short story writer and essayist. After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School, he earned his MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1978, he became the first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In 1981, he began teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was soon after included in the first group of artists to receive a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His story “Gold Coast” is included in Best American Short Stories of the Century. McPherson died in 2016.