Whiting Awards

Since 1985, the Foundation has supported creative writing through the Whiting Awards, which are given annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

News & Reviews

“The Faith Behind Aubrey Beardsley’s Sexually Charged Art” by Morgan Meis

Meis explores the “tension between past and future” in the erotic drawings of Aubdrey Beardsley for The New Yorker.

The Christian Science Monitor reviews Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier

“Frazier takes you places that make you grasp his book with white knuckles,” The Christian Science Monitor reports, in a review that praises Frazier’s “remarkable unquenchable curiosity.” 

“Blue in Green” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

In The Paris Review, Phillips discusses the NBA finals season and how basketball “becomes a physical language for unspoken aspects of your inner life.”

“The Courage of Being Queer” by Alexander Chee

In the New Republic, Chee reflects on queer identity in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre and reminds readers “we can honor the dead by making the world they dreamed of into a reality for the living.”

The Chicago Tribune interviews Ian Frazier

Fraizer tells the Tribune how he balances humor with reporting in his journalistic work and recounts the story of New York’s “Hip Hop Cop.”

“His God” by Shane McCrae

“I am the keeper tells/ Me the most popular exhibit,” begins McCrae’s poem about the cruelty human beings are capable of inflicting on each other.

Mass and Volume interviews Jess Row

On literary podcast Mass and Volume, Row discusses the influence growing up in Baltimore has had on his work and his profound realization at age 22 that he had a “fragile” sense of self.

Financial Times reviews The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Financial Times deems the novel “impressive” and “richly imagined,” praising in particular Chee’s dynamic heroine, soprano and diva Lilliet Berne. 

Michael Cunningham’s 10 Favorite Books

For the T Magazine feature, Cunningham shares the stories behind his love of Denis Johnson, Louise Gluck, and one surprise 11th pick. 

Timber Journal interviews Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Van der Vliet Oloomi explains that “bewilderment & drift is what keeps me returning to my writing desk day after day" and describes her creative process. 

“This Year Off-Broadway, a New Class of Scribes Took Center Stage”

The Village Voice writes in praise of "excitingly prolific" and "venturesome" playwrights Danai Gurira, Lucas Hnath, and Rajiv Joseph.

“The Werewolf” by Shane McCrae

In literary journal H_NGM_N, McCrae’s narrator laments, “I hide     yet I’m afraid     I’ll be acknowledged / And still I won’t be seen.”

“National Parks Don’t Need Your Misty-Eyed Reverence” by Ian Frazier

On Outside Magazine, Frazier bemoans the "false piety" of a "proud, powerful cliché": nature as cathedral. 

Tracy K. Smith gives Columbia College Chicago commencement address

Smith spoke to the class of 2016, reminding graduates “we grow most as artists and as people when there’s something far off and possibly unattainable in our sights.”

Divedapper interviews Ocean Vuong

Vuong talks in-depth about his identity as a “child of war” and why poetry is the act of “singing solitude, but singing it to each other.”

“Fatal Migrations” by Daniel Alarcón

Since 2001, over 2600 people have died trying to cross from Mexico into Arizona. On The Intercept, Alarcón creates a visualization to show readers where they perished.

“Second Language” by Jericho Brown

On The Nervous Breakdown, Brown muses on a place and time where men “thought they could/ Own the dirt they were/ Bound to.”

“Three Facts Essential to Understanding Muhammad Ali” by Gerald Early

In The Washington Post, Early dissects the activism, self-consciousness, and fierce competitiveness of Muhammad Ali, “one of our country’s most compelling, sincere and important dissidents.”

WritersCast interviews Chris Offutt

On literary podcast WritersCast, Chris Offutt reflects on his childhood perception of his dad’s career in erotic writing, and how his father’s work has impacted his own identity as a writer.

“Jazz June” by Clifford Thompson

In The Threepenny Review, Thompson writes of crushes, summer, and jazz music, three phenomena that inspire “a focus on the feeling itself rather than on where it might lead.”

“If Women Were Less Poor, Would There Really Be Fewer Abortions?” by Katha Pollitt

On The Nation, Pollitt delves into the supposed link between class and abortion, explaining that, “when it comes to motherhood, money isn’t everything.”

“Jim Limber the Adopted Mulatto Son of Jefferson Davis Visits His Adoptive Parents After the War” by Shane McCrae

“He said   America would never be/ A place where we could   live together not at/ Least in my lifetime,” laments McCrae’s narrator in a new work about race on Poets.org.

The Writer Magazine interviews Mitchell S. Jackson

Jackson discusses the lack of literature in prison and writing for “a younger version of myself.”

Playbill interviews Tarell Alvin McCraney

As part of a series on “LGBTQ artists shaping the course of American theatre,” Playbill talks to McCraney about his shyness outside of performing and why he believes that “all art remembers our humanity.”

Publications & Productions

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier

From feral hogs in the South to homelessness in New York City, the decade of Frazier's reporting chronicled in this collection proves that he is, as The Believer deemed him, "a master of both distilled insight and utter nonsense."

The Healing by Samuel D. Hunter

Twenty-five years after being told by a counselor that their disabilities could be willed away with prayer, a group of friends come together to discuss a strange summer camp. The Healing premiered at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre. 

Hardly War by Don Mee Choi

Choi's collection explores the consequences of the Korean and Vietnam wars using memoir, image, and opera. "While imperial history relishes mythmaking and triumphalism at the expense of the human and psychological costs of war," BOMB writes, "Choi revels in history’s untold spaces."

String Theory by David Foster Wallace

The New York Times has called David Foster Wallace "the best tennis-writer of all time"; in this collection of his tennis essays, Wallace explores the sport with the eye of a writer, a former player, and a fan.

the black maria by Aracelis Girmay

Of Girmay's collection, which investigates African disaporic histories and the consequences of racism within American culture, poet Kwame Dawes declares, "Girmay's poems set off alarms even as they transform the world she inhabits."

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

Stephen King declares that The City of Mirrors is "a thrilling finale to a trilogy that will stand as one of the great achievements in American fantasy fiction."

The Sport of the Kings by C.E. Morgan

Kirkus Reviews deems Morgan's novel, a journey into the world of race and racing, "vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion."

ShallCross by C. D. Wright

Of the late poet's collection, The Gettysburg Review declares, "C.D. Wright is entirely her own poet, a true original."

Olio by Tyehimba Jess

Jess's poetry collection, praised as "sprawling" and "extraordinary" by NPR, explores the stories of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I.

Antlia Pneumatica by Anne Washburn

Premiering at Playwrights Horizons, Washburn's Antlia Pneumatica follows the lives of friends who reunite in Texas to bury one of their own and are forced to confront their slippery pasts.

Dad Art by Damien Wilkins

In Wilkins's newest novel, acoustic engineer Michael Stirling grapples with online dating, his father's dementia, and a daughter's new boyfriend. New Zealand newspaper The Spinoff praises the characters' vulnerability and deems Wilkins "a keen observer of human behaviour."

Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski

Library Journal praises Berlinski's depiction of place in his novel about a UN worker sent to train Haitian police, calling Berlinski a writer with "the eye of an anthropologist and the heart of a novelist."