Whiting Award Winners

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 Guardian profiles Jericho Brown

Brown talks about what made him reconsider his relationship to religious faith, why poets are like preachers, and how poetry saved his life.

Singapore Unbound reviews The New Testament by Jericho Brown

Singapore Unbound reviews Brown's The New Testament, praising the collection's lyrical, prayer-like quality and writing, "Brown's collection, I believe, is a beautiful testament to this in action: if one lives, prays, and reveals one's true face, extraordinary changes can be made."

Daniel Alarcón is one of Americas Quarley's Top 5 Storytellers

Alarcón was honored for his work with groundbreaking Spanish language podcast Radio Ambulante, and said of the honor, "The best praise you can give me is to call me a narrator."

Virginia Grise receives a Princess Grace Foundation Award

Grice was awarded the grant for a theatrical adaptation of Their Dogs Came with Them by Helena Maria Viramontes.

Certain American States by Catherine Lacey

In her first short story collection, Lacey explores characters coming to terms with breakups, abandonment, and strained family ties. A woman leaves her dead husband’s clothing on the street, only for it to reappear on the body of a stranger; a man reads his ex-wife’s short story and neurotically contemplates whether it is about him. The Chicago Tribune says the collection is full of "devastating epiphanies."

Theater Mania interviews Rinne Groff

Whiting winner Rinne Groff talks about her new play at the Public Theater, Fire in Dreamland, and the very human longing for escape that motivates her characters.

The Rumpus interviews Terrance Hayes

Hayes discusses how the sonnet form drove his latest collection, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins, and rule-breaking in poetry.

"Jim Limber on the Apple Harvest" by Shane McCrae

In a new poem for Hyperallergic, McCrae's narrator muses: " I see folks’     Gods whenever I see their faces/ But God don’t look like anybody here/ For me     God is a woman     and Her face is/ Black as a bright black stone."

"1987" by Paul Guest

"Some nights I wake/ and everything hurts/ a little. It is/ amazing how long/ a ruined thing/ will burn." In a new work for Poets.org, Guest tackles pain, loss, and memory.

"Omakase" by Weike Wang

"She was one of those people—the kind to create an Excel spreadsheet of everything she owned and send it to him." In Wang's story for the New Yorker, complexities bubble beneath the surface of a couple's sushi dinner in Harlem.

"Malzberg Reading Daniels Reading Malzberg"

J.D. Daniels talks self-plagiarism, Daniel Barenboim, and science fiction in a series of letters with fellow writer Barry N. Malzberg.

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is a finalist for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award

Congrats to Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, whose novel Call Me Zebra "represents some of the best that Indiana literature has to offer."

The Chicago Review of Books interviews Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi discusses her novel Call Me Zebra and why she believes  "Writing is an act of communication, a gesture of affection and empathy toward others, a form of call & response."

"Roof Nightclub" by Ishion Hutchinson

“Forever ends. Never a moment holds/ ‘still-here,’ when sand murmurs through my fingers.” In a new poem for Poets.org, Hutchinson’s narrator muses on life and death.

The New York Times reviews Country Dark by Chris Offutt

The Times calls Offutt’s second work of fiction “dark, but deeply humane” and declares the noir novel “an achievement of spellbinding momentum and steadfast heart.”

Broadway World interviews Mona Mansour

Mansour talks about her new play, The Vagrant Trilogy, and why it’s important to her that audiences hear Arabic and “see Arabic in daily life and not just news events.”

Lambda Literary reviews Camp Marmalade by Wayne Koestenbaum

Lambda Literary calls Koestenbaum’s latest, a follow up to his Pink Trance Notebooks, an “existential cotton candy cloud spun big as life.”

The New Yorker reviews American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins by Terrance Hayes

Whiting winner Dan Chiasson reviews the new poetry collection by fellow winner Hayes, calling American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins "one of the deepest accounts I have read in poetry of what it feels like to have one’s body fetishized as an object but criminalized as a force."

The Star Tribune reviews Chemistry by Weike Wang

The Tribune calls Wang “a visionary,” writing that her novel about a burned-out Ph.D. candidate pondering her Chinese heritage and an upcoming marriage “has crafted a narrative that manages to be both restrained and explosive.”

Full Stop magazine reviews Camp Marmalade by Wayne Koestenbaum

The magazine writes that Koestenbaum’s latest collection “mixing conscious states like color” and declares that, “for Koestenbaum, art is no therapy or escape. It simply tags along, delivering beauty un-deliberated.”

The LA Review of Books on Junk by Tommy Pico

The LA Review of Books writes that Pico’s latest is full of “poems that are complex yet accessible, that sound like 2018 but that have staying power long past it,” comparing the poet to Frank O’Hara.

The Kenyon Review on In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae

Jonathan Farmer discusses how the latest book differs from McCrae’s previous work, meditates on his relationship to the book as a white reader, and praises the “power” of McCrae’s poems.

“The Magic of Denis Johnson”

In The Nation, writer J. Robert Lennon pens a moving tribute to Johnson’s life and his final collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden. "It wasn’t that his books failed to conform to expectations,” Lennon writes. “It was that his talent was too slippery to set them in the first place."

“The Afro-Pessimist Temptation” by Darryl Pinckney

"It’s as though racism has always been the action and dealing with it the reaction," Pinckney reflects in his New York Review of Books piece on Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cornell West, and afro-pessimism.

New Work

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes

In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, the country's past and future eras and errors, and its dreams and nightmares. The Los Angeles Times calls the latest book by Hayes "the right poetry collection for right now."

Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a disillusioned do-gooder named Kate meets Jaap, a charismatic European making a film about the 1911 fire that burned Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park to ashes. Desperate for something to live for, Kate buys a ticket on the thrill ride of Jaap’s passion. The only trick is to keep the roller coaster from running off the rails before it destroys them all.

Country Dark by Chris Offutt

Tucker, a young veteran, returns from war to work for a bootlegger. He falls in love and starts a family, but when his family is threatened, Tucker is pushed into violence, which changes everything. The story of people living off the in a backwoods Kentucky world of shine-runners and laborers, Country Dark is a novel about a man who just wants to protect those he loves. 

The Vagrant Trilogy by Mona Mansour

When Arab scholar Adham goes to London in 1967 with his new wife to give a talk, he has no idea his trip will end on a life-changing pivot point. After war suddenly breaks out in his homeland, what should he do? The Vagrant Trilogy follows each fork in that road, allowing the audience to experience his parallel lives, love and losses. Seen together in one epic showing, the plays speak to the psychic effects of displacement not just for Palestinians, but for all of us.

Camp Marmalade by Wayne Koestenbaum

Part diary, part collage, part textbook for a new School of Impulse, Camp Marmalade assembles a perverse and giddy cultural archive, a Ferris wheel of aphorisms, depicting a queer body amidst a dizzying flow of sensations, dreams, and distillations. "This book presents a hallucinatory glimmer of what that life might be without granting precedence to any single method," declares Bookforum

Junk by Tommy Pico

In Junk, a narrator ponders illusions of security, sense of self, and indigenous identity. Pico explores the anxiety of utility, the loss of a boyfriend, plus Janet Jackson and Chili Cheese Fritos. "Junk," says writer Jenny Zhang, "is a true American odyssey."

Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith

In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith ties America’s contemporary moment both to the nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the everlasting. Smith explores what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a collection the New York Times calls "scorching."

 

No Immediate Danger by William T. Vollmann

Vollmann explores a topic that will define the generations to come: the factors and human actions that have led to global warming. Featuring Vollmann's signature encyclopedic research, No Immediate Danger, builds up a powerful, sobering picture of the ongoing nightmare of Fukushima. The Washington Post calls the book "a feverish, sprawling archive of who we are, and what we’ve wrought.”

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is Chee’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history. BuzzFeed's Isaac Fitzgerald says "Alexander Chee is one of the best living writers of today. If he’s not already a household name, he needs to be."

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

In what NPR calls a "penetrating meditation on loss," a woman unexpectedly loses her best friend, then finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. The woman refuses to be separated from the dog, and, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling - but also discovers the rich rewards of companionship.

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry explores inequities in age, power, and justice. Told in three unique sections, the novel tells the story of an aspiring novelist’s coming-of-age and an Iraqi-American detained by immigration officers. "Halliday is knowing," Time Magazine writes, "about isolation, dissatisfaction and the pain of being human." 
 

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Zebra, last in a line of autodidacts, leaves New York to retrace the journey she and her father made from Iran to the United States years ago. Books are her only companions—until she meets Ludo."Hearken ye fellow misfits, squint-eyed bibliophiles & book stall-stalkers," writes Wall Street Journal. "Here is a novel for you."