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

Mitchell S. Jackson hosts the Ernest J. Gaines Award

Jackson, a former winner of the award, will host the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award honoring writer Crystal Wilkenson.

The Idiot by Elif Batuman is a Vulture most anticipated release of 2017

Maris Kreizman writes that Batuman’s writing “tends to hit home” and praises the “abundant humor” of Batuman’s first novel. 

Vu Tran on The History of Literature podcast

Tran talks about the ways in which first chapters – including one by fellow Whiting winner Jeffrey Eugenidies - affect readers and fulfill their author’s intentions. 

Publishers Weekly reviews Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly writes that Passarello’s collection of essays about animals “satisfies through a feast of gorgeous prose.”

The New York Times reviews The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle

The Times praises Peelle's animal characters and "agile" voice in her first novel.

Nylon interviews Catherine Lacey

Lacey talks about the romantic connections documented in her latest book, The Art of the Affair, including the Samuel Beckett affair that left her surprised. 

“Can A Bombay Strongman Explain Trump?” by Suketu Mehta

In the New York Times, Mehta profiles Indian politician Bal Keshav Thackeray alongside President-elect Trump and asks, “What happens if the violent incitement of Mr. Trump’s campaign continues into his presidency?”

Commonplace Podcast interviews Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown talks with fellow poet and podcast host Rachel Zucker about why the American education system has failed us and how to be more loving. 

The New York Times reviews The Correspondence by J. D. Daniels

Dwight Garner applauds Daniels’s “thoughtful” and “intoxicating” essays, writing that the collection is “packed with so much promise that 2017 looks better already.”

“David Bowie in Eternity” by Colson Whitehead

In The New York Times, Whitehead writes an ode to the musical legend: "Thanks for your weird ubiquity. As if you were not a person but a destination.”

Eduardo C. Corral receives a 2017-2018 Hodder Fellowship

Corral was awarded the honor by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. Hodder Fellowships are given annually to artists with “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.”

Ocean Vuong named a 2016 Foreign Policy Global Thinker

Honored alongside leaders like Hillary Clinton, Vuong was chosen for the because of his “reminder of how essential immigrant voices are to the American cultural landscape.”

"[In Mexican, Technicolor Oz]" by Aracelis Girmay

In the Bennington Review, Girmay creates a dark world of uncertain feelings and gnashing teeth, whose narrators declare, “Though it is forbidden,/we test god by asking for proof & miracles.”

David Foster Wallace’s Illinois

The New York Times explores the quiet cafes where Wallace was a regular and the writer’s favorite local bookstore. 

PBS NewsHour interviews Layli Long Soldier

Long Soldier shares her thoughts on the Dakota Access Pipeline project, and why she doesn’t define herself as a political poet. “I want us, our people, to be seen,” Long Solider says. “I want to be heard.” 

Four collections by Whiting winners named Library Journal’s best poetry books of 2016

The House of Lords and Commons by Ishion Hutchinson, Olio by Tyehimba Jess, Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong, and ShallCross by C.D. Wright are all listed as picks for top 2016 poetry. 

Divedapper interviews Dana Levin

Levin discusses the link between poetry and environmentalism, and declares of artists: “We’re expressers! We are speakers into ears! We want ears!”

The Washington Post names The Underground Railroad one of the 10 best novels of 2016

The Washington Post says Whitehead’s “thrilling” novel “disrupts our settled sense of the past and stretches the ligaments of history right into our own era.”

From “Whereas Statements” by Layli Long Soldier

The New York Times features an excerpt from Long Soldier’s poem in response to President Obama’s congressional resolution of apology to Native Americans. Here, she reminders her daughter, “In our home in our family we are ourselves, real feelings. Be true.”

TIME magazine names The Underground Railroad one of the 10 best novels of 2016

TIME chose Colson Whitehead’s novel, about a runaway slave on a literal Underground Railroad, as one of their best books of 2016.

“Breaking Bubbles” by Tyehimba Jess

Jess explains why the act of writing a poem “calls upon the writer to listen intimately" and how art can be used to create shared understanding. 

“A Poem for Better Times: Millie McKoy & Christine McCoy Recall Meeting Blind Tom, 1877” by Tyehimba Jess

Jess’s poem, from his collection Olio, is written in the voice of conjoined twins the McKoy Sisters (1851-1912), who explain of traveling circus life, “our bodies betrayals have made us a way.” 

“Oh! You Tony” by Elena Passarello

In the Paris Review, new correspondent Elena Passarello writes the first in a series about famous animals in history: an ode to silent-film star Tony the Wonder Horse and his early retirement. 

Jericho Brown interviewed on Divedapper

On the poetry blog, Brown discusses the importance of writers creating community, and why he believes “every poem has a face.”

Publications & Productions

Enigma Variations by André Aciman

In Enigma Variations, Aciman charts the love life of a man named Paul, from adolescence in southern Italy where he falls for his parents' cabinetmaker, to his lust on tennis courts of New York. "Aciman has made a magnificent, living thing," writes The New York Times.

Skeleton Coast by Elizabeth Arnold

Arnold's collection explores the impact of encounters with evil. Fellow poet Jennifer Clarvoe describes each poem in the book as "a delicately fused mechanism, twisting around both still and moving parts, which the reader tracks silently on the way to inevitable, impeccable detonations."

The Correspondence by J. D. Daniels

In a series of six letters, Daniels takes the reader from Kentucky to Cambridge to Brazil, as he works as a janitor, a professor, and an exterminator. "Books like this are why I read," says Tom Bissell of Daniels's rumination on literature, psychology, and human existence. 

Hurricane Diane by Madeleine George

In Hurricane Diane, premiering at Two River Theater, Greek god Dionysus becomes Diane, a lesbian gardener from Vermont. George says of the play, “I was eager to write a play that offers people the chance to interrogate their own feelings about these climatic shifts that are happening whether we’re ready for them or not.”

Five Plays by Samuel D. Hunter

This collection of Hunter's work includes five plays all set in the playwright's home state of Idaho. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times calls Samuel D. Hunter "a welcome theatrical voice from the American West."

How to Be Bored by Eva Hoffman

In the latest installment in the School of Life series, Hoffman considers how we can recover from the uninterrupted activity of our modern and digital age. Through psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and literature, Hoffman shows readers how to reconstruct meaningful lives.

The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle

In Peelle's debut novel, set in 1916, a middle-aged Irish immigrant and the teenage son of a prostitute join forces to sell a surprisingly valuable commodity for the troops in Europe—mules. Booklist writes, "the skillfully crafted characters are rendered with acute psychological insight into the moral dilemmas that shape one’s humanity."

The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler

Hopler's collection, a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, mourns the death of his father. "Even as they engage grief and loss," says fellow Whiting winner and poet Dana Levin, "the poems here are funny and sardonic, not afraid to wear their feelings on their sleeves; they're a tonic."

World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead

Mead's fifth collection, longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award in poetry, is an exploration of grief and death. Publishers Weekly writes, "Mead's earthiness sometimes morphs into otherworldiness."

Clover by Erik Ehn

Ehn's latest play follows the tragedy of Emmett Till and his mother that helped spur the Civil Rights Movement as well as three other stories, illustrating America’s history of violence towards those most vulnerable. 

Berlin Notebook: Where are the Refugees? by Joshua Weiner

In his Berlin Notebook, Weiner chronicles a fall and spring spent in Berlin from 2015-16, when the peak influx of refugees into the country took place. Weiner documents the mixed German response to the refugee crisis: some feel an obligation to assist rooted in the past, and others, a deep skepticism.

Aneurysm of the Firmament by Thylias Moss

Moss's new chapbook of poetry, available on Kindle, is a collaboration with fellow poet Thomas Higginson, and a work "in which differentiating words of one from word of the other is impossible as true collaboration should be."