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Mark Swed

MacArthur fellows for 2017: a tragicomic novelist, an 'Afropolitan' painter and more

MacArthur fellows for 2017: a tragicomic novelist, an 'Afropolitan' painter and more

The 2017 MacArthur fellows have been revealed, and among the honorees are an experimental opera director, a freewheeling novelist exploring the moral complexities of the Vietnam War, a Nigerian painter mining her “Afropolitan” perspective and a gender-bending theater pioneer.

What do these four have in common? All are in Los Angeles. Yuval Sharon, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Taylor Mac all are based in the city or are staging work here, turning this year’s MacArthur fellows class into another sign of a shift west for American arts and culture influencers.

The annual no-strings-attached awards of $625,000 per person — often...

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