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

Letters of Suresh will premier in Fall 2021

The new play by Rajiv Joseph, a mystery from a series of letters between strangers, friends, daughters, and lovers, is set to appear on stage next year.

The Great River Review on The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The Review praises Brown's depiction of the body, and writes that "with [Brown]s] extraordinary poems and new forms, we might learn to heal our own damaged histories and selves, to make our own new myths, and to bring our whole person to the world."

Writing advice from Whiting winners on The Cut

The Cut's new series features advice for fledgling writers from authors including Sigrid Nunez and Alexander Chee, who advises, "I have always asked my students to focus on the stories only they can tell."

Whiting winner Aria Aber curates Boaat's summer poetry

In her introduction to the section (which features new work by fellow Whiting Award winner Diannely Antigua), Aber writes that during the current challenging state of the world, "poetry offers shelter, by shaping language to hold us."

Suketu Mehta interviewed on Reverberation Radio

Mehta is interviewed on Reverberation Radio's "Quarantine Tapes" series about why, after the pandemic, the world needs more migration, not less.

This Land is Our Land by Suketu Mehta is a featured New York Times paperback

The Times writes that, in his latest book, Mehta makes a compelling case for wealthy countries taking in migrants as reparation for damage done to their homelands.

Zahra Hankir recommends Call Me Zebra

The journalist recommends Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi's latest novel in an interview with the Bagri Foundation.

"In the Eighties We Did the Wop" by Major Jackson

In a new poem on Poets.org, Jackson reflects "Show me your grin in the middle of winter./ In the eighties we did the wop; you, too, have your dances. It is like stealing light from a flash in the sky."

Ordinary Girls is a Las Comrades pick for summer reads

Las Comrades selects Díaz's memoir as one of their titles that will "thrill, entertain and inspire readers of all ages."

"No" by Dana Levin

In a new poem for The New Republic, Levin writes, "Trying the long view—in which years breathe/ and the Great Wheel always turns, but/ so much damage done as ash and seed/ change places, as they always do—was that/ still true?".

Major Jackson interviewed by the Vermont Studio Center

Jackson  discusses Jorge Luis Borges’ influence on his new book's opening poem, reads from his collection The Absurd Man, and more.

David Adjmi interviewed in Electric Literature

Adjmi discusses abandoning and then reclaiming his past on his own terms in his new memoir, Lot Six, about queer identity and growing up in New York's Syrian Jewish Community.

A conversation with Major Jackson in On the Seawell

In a new interview, Jackson muses, "I’ve found the writing of a poem is a kind of plunging, a willful dive below the surface of who I am, that field of mind, feeling, and memories."

Mitchell S. Jackson is one of Chicago's Lit 50

Jackson is included among fellow authors Eula Biss, Natasha Trethewey, and more on Newcity 's list of 50 notable Chicago writers.

The New York Public Library recommends books by Whiting winners

Books by Terrance Hayes, ZZ Packer, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Tracy K. Smith, Stephanie Powell Watts, Mitchell S. Jackson, Jericho Brown, Jia Tolentino, and Colson Whitehead are on the New York Public Library list of summer staff recommendations.

Virginia Grise named Cara Mía Theatre Resident Playwright

Grise will spend the three-year residency developing new works with the local community, working alongside a cohort of Dallas-based women of color to interrogate questions of land, autonomy, and the tools necessary to “build and sustain healthy and vibrant communities.”

The Millions list of most anticipated books features Whiting winners

Books by Lysley Tenorio, Catherine Lacey, Yiyun Li, Randall Kenan, Sigrid Nunez, and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum are featured in The Millions most anticipated book list for the second half of 2020.

Read an excerpt from David Adjmi's Lot Six

Literary Hub features an excerpt from Adjmi's new memoir about the importance of his mother's influence. "I was frozen solid in the bucket seat of my mother’s Impala," it begins. "It was summer, a Wednesday afternoon in the year 1979, and I was eight years old."

Lot Six named one of the best memoirs this summer by the Chicago Tribune

The Tribune writes that David Adjmi's memoir "touches upon something deep and complex in the human condition."

Kaitlyn Greenidge interviews Morgan Jerkins

In Zora magazine, the writers discuss  what it means to learn about your ancestors "with all of their complications," online Blackness, and more.

John Wray on "The Chronicles of Now"

For the fiction podcast, Wray imagines what the border barrier will look like long after Trump — what will be standing, whom it will protect, how much it will matter.

David Adjmi interviewed in The New York Review of Books

"I think," Adjmi muses, "loneliness and alienation are really—I hate to say this—a kind of sustenance for artists and writers" in a new interview about his memoir, Lot Six.

"Dear Editor——" by Douglas Kearney

On Cave Canem's blog, Kearney shares an open letter about George Floyd and the current world moment. "I would like to invite more white people," he writes, "to stop preferring that we keep producing new work when it’s they who have work to do."

"Could My Baby's Birth Chart Give Me Peace Of Mind?" by Kaitlyn Greenidge

In a piece about her daughter's birth for Romper, Greenidge wonders, "In that hospital room, back in the land of emotional peaks and valleys, I kept checking, over and over again: would my daughter be born on a good day?".

New Work

Living Weapon by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

In his latest collection, Phillips ruminates on violans and violence, on hatred, on turning forty-three, and eve on the end of existence itself. "Phillips’s latest is lyrical, imaginative, and steeped in a keen understanding of current events," writes Publishers Weekly.



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.

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. 

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. 

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.”