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

PBS NewsHour interviews Terese Marie Mailhot

Mailhot talks about the "sacred" bookstores where she wrote Heart Berries, the emily Dickinson poem she thinks everyone should read, and how she decided to stop writing what other people wanted.

The Tradition by Jericho Brown reviewed on Empty Mirror

On Empty Mirror, reviewer Daschielle Louis writes that she felt "seen" by Brown's collection and "understood as someone seen as woman before girl. Dangerous before soft."

 

 

"Stephen Adly Guirgis’s World of Broken Women"

The New Yorker reviews Guirgis's "rough-cut gem of a new play," Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, dubbing the playwright "a wixard at getting language to flow hot, funny, and fast."

Stephen Adly Guirgis on God, Broadway and writing for women of color

Stephen Adly Guirgis talks to America magazine about his latest play, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, explaining of his writing process, "Instead of knowing why I was writing, I had to trust that it would be revealed, and keep going."

Three Whiting winners are Poem-a-Day Guest Editors for 2020

Winners Brian Blanchfield, Dana Levin, and Roger Reeves will each curate a month of poems for the Academy of American Poets in 2020.

An interview with Ilya Kaminsky in Poets & Writers

The poet discusses his latest collection, Deaf Republic, with fellow writer Garth Greenwell. Kaminsky highlights his identity as a writer in particular, explaining "I fiercely resist being pigeonholed as a 'Russian poet' or an 'immigrant poet' or even an 'American poet.' I am a human being. It is a marvelous thing to be."

 

An interview with Anne Boyer on Commonplace podcast

Boyer talks about the motivating fires of vengeance and love, what happens when poets face the larger market, and more.

FThree Whiting winners featured on Slate's list "The 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years"

Elif Batuman's The PossessedTravels in Siberia by Ian Frazier, and Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts are three of the titles highlighted on the list.

Wayne Koestenbaum reviews Duet for Cannibals

Koestenbaum reviews Susan Sontag's first film for 4 Columns, asking "Can Duet for Cannibals be my new Jane Eyre, proof-text of claiming a voice even if it means you must burn down the house?"

Victor LaValle interviewed in Guernica

LaValle talks about editing his first anthology, the history of voter suppression in the United States, and how New York can be "magical."

André Aciman interviewed in The Hollywood Reporter

Aciman talks about the candidness of his characters, believing in love, his new book Find Me, and more.

The Arkansas International reviews Feed by Tommy Pico

The Arkansas International praises the layers of meaning -- and method -- in Pico's new book, writing that the collection "offers humor and intimacy alongside what's broken and wasting."

André Aciman interviewed in USA Today

Aciman talks about how his sequel to Call Me By Your Name came to be, delves deeper into the relationship between the characters Oliver and Elio, and more.

Victor LaValle and Benjamin Percy in conversation

For Literary Hub, the two masters of horror writing discuss the release that the genre provides, how horror can be "morally intructive," and more.

The New York Times reviews Essays One by Lydia Davis

The New York Times calls Davis "our Vermeer," writing that "Davis takes pure pleasure in the muscular act of looking, and invites us to look alongside her."

"Beetles in the Moonlight" by Gordon Grice

"the ground is resplendent with them," Grice narrates in a new poem for Westview journal. "every crevice of the cliff/ disgorging them, a black tide that blues/ beneath the moon, and then the moon/ seems to crawl about on their backs

 

Nadia Owuso interviewed by Southern New Hampshire University

Owusu talks about the first novel she ever wrote (at age five!), what she wishes she knew when she first started writing, and more.

"A Mother Journeys Through Grief Across Finland’s Many Islands" by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li explores the Aland archipelago, and the grief of losing a child, for The New York Times. "What is the difference," she ponders, "between beauty preserved as still image and beauty experienced in person, in time?"

 

The Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Feed by Tommy Pico

"Feed takes a risk," writes the LARB. "It wills imagination into being."

Essays One by Lydia Davis

Essays One contains a selection of Davis's essays commentaries, and lectures composed over the past five decades. Her subjects range from her earliest influences to her favorite short stories. “[Davis] is our Vermeer, patiently observing and chronicling daily life but from angles odd and askew," writes The New York Times. "Davis takes pure pleasure in the muscular act of looking, and invites us to look alongside her."

Wayne Koestenbaum interviewed in BOMB 

Koestenbaum talks Instagram crushes, writing cultural criticism as a poet, why he believes his novel Circus will appeal to younger writers, and more.

Broadway World reviews the A Strange Loop cast recording

Broadway World gives the original cast recording of Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop a rave review, writing that "Jackson's brilliantly unique voice shines through in undeniable ways."

Harper's reviews The Undying by Anne Boyer

Harper's praises the ambition of Boyer's book, and writes that "one of her many gifts is for framing and juxtaposition, vividly exposing connections between structural injustice and personal suffering."

The Tufts Poetry Awards interviews Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

On the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Blog, 2019 finalist Villarreal discusses forging space on her own terms and giving others permission to do the same.

New Work

The Thin Place by Lucas Hnath

Everyone who ever died is still here, and Linda can communicate with them. If you believe, she can make you hear them, too — in the thin place, the fragile boundary between our world and the other one. The New York Times writes, "Lucas Hnath is haunting Playwrights Horizons. A cunning new play, compelling and delicious."

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Pulitzer-winner Guirgis's Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven is about the harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking inner workings of a women's halfway house in New York City. Ben Brantley writes in the New York Times that Guirgis's latest is "a vibrant and expansive comic drama with heaving humanity, surging vitality and diversity! [...] I wish I had the space to describe every performance."

Find Me by André Aciman

In Find Me, Aciman explores Sami, the father of character Elio, whom he first introduced to readers in Call Me By Your Name. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever. Meanwhile, Elio has an affair in Paris and Oliver contemplates in a return trip across the Atlantic. The New York Times writes that Find Me "strikes an affectingly melancholy chord.”

Dunce by Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle's latest collection explores the act and intensity of poem-making, with the poet's usual imaginative flourishes and unique sensibility. Publishers Weekly calls the collection "a giddy, incisive ode to failure, fragility, and unknowing."

The Undying by Anne Boyer

Boyer's memoir of surviving aggressive triple-negative breast cancer explores the experience of illness mediated by digital screens, the ecological costs of chemotherapy, the literary line of women writing about their illnesses, and more. Sally Rooney writes of that book: "Anne Boyer has produced a profound and unforgettable document on the experience of life itself."

White Flights:  Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination by Jess Row

 White Flights is a meditation on whiteness in American fiction and culture from the end of the civil rights movement to the present. Jess Row examines the ways writers have sought imaginative space for themselves at the expense of engage with race, and then looks beyond criticism to consider writing as a reparative act. "We should accompany Row through this important inquiry," the New York Times writes of White Flights.

This Land Is Our Land by Suketu Mehta

Suketu Mehta scrutinizes the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash, explaining how the fear of immigrants is negatively impacting the West. Immigrants, Mehta illustrates, bring great benefits, enabling countires and communities to flourish. 

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Vuong's first novel is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. 

The Volunteer by Salvatore Scibona

A small boy speaking an unknown language is abandoned by his father at an international airport. In order to understand this indefensible decision, the story must return to the moment decades earlier when a young man enlists in the United States Marine Corps to fight in Vietnam and puts in motion an unimaginable chain of events. "Scibona," The New York Times Book Review writes, "has built a masterpiece." 

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown explores fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma, leaving no stone unturned. Craig Morgan Teicher writes, "Brown manages to bestow upon even the most public of subjects the most intimate and personal stakes."

The Spectators by Jennifer duBois

Talk show host Matthew Miller has made his fame by exposing bizarre secrets of society, but remains a mystery. When the high school students responsible for a mass shooting are found to be devoted fans, Mattie is thrust into the glare of public scrutiny. Soon, the secrets of his past push their way to the surface. Kirkus Reviews calls The Spectators "Elegant, enigmatic, and haunting.”

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

On an unremarkable Wednesday in June, Helen Clapp, tenured professor at MIT, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died, her former roommate, Charlie. As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart. Rivka Galchen writes, "Lost and Wanted is an extraordinary book, startling in its open curiosity and love."