October 03, 2005 at 05:33 PM EDT

It’s still too early to assess the monumental achievement of playwright August Wilson, who died of liver cancer at a Seattle hospital yesterday, just four months after the diagnosis of his ailment. At the time of his death, Wilson, 60, was revising Radio Golf, the last play in his 10-play cycle about the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century. Wilson’s plays, like the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Fences, The Piano Lesson, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, brought epic myth-making and lush, poetic, blues-inflected language to the American theater. He was also instrumental in the careers of such actors as Charles S. Dutton, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Laurence Fishburne. He certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller, so it’s fitting that Broadway’s Virginia Theatre will be renamed in his honor on Oct. 17. It’ll be the first theater on Broadway named after an African-American.

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