The son of immigrant Chinese parents, Hwang attended Stanford University and the Yale Drama School and has been a director and a teacher of playwriting. FOB (1981), which stands for "Fresh off the boat,"' explores the conflicts between two Chinese Americans and a Chinese exchange student still steeped in the customs and beliefs of the old world. It won an Obie Award in 1981. The Dance and the Railroad (1982) concerns an artist and his fellow workers who stage a strike to protest the inhuman conditions suffered by Chinese railroad workers in the American West in the nineteenth century. M Butterfly (1988), about the relationship between an American man and a Chinese transvestite, won the Tony Award as best play of the year. Maxine Hong Kingston wrote, "David Hwang has an ear for Chinatown English, the language of childhood and the subconscious, the language of emotion, the language of home."
Frank Rich served from 1980 to 1993 as the chief drama critic for The New York Times and since 1994 has been an op-ed columnist at the paper. He lives in New York City with his wife, the writer Alex Witchel.