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

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?".

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.

New Work

Aspiring by Damien Wilkins

Fifteen-year-old Ricky lives in Aspiring, but he's stuck in a loop: student, uncommitted basketballer, and puzzled son, burdened by his family's sadness. And who's the weird guy in town with a chauffeur and half a Cadillac? What about the bits of story that invade his head? Uncertain what's real — and who he is — Ricky can't stop sifting for clues.

Pew by Catherine Lacey

In a small town in the American South, a church congregation arrives for a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless and racially ambiguous and refuses to speak. As days pass, the void around their presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace. “The people of this community are [...] brilliantly rendered by their wise maker, Catherine Lacey.” - Rachel Kushner

The World Doesn't Work that Way, But it Could: Stories (Volume 1) by Yxta Maya Murray

In Murray's latest collection, ordinary people negotiate tentative paths through wildfire, mass shootings, bureaucratic incompetence, and heedless government policies with vicious impacts on the innocent and helpless.

If I Had Two Wings: Stories by Randall Kenan

In Kenan’s fictional territory of Tims Creek, North Carolina, an old man rages in his nursing home, a parson beats up an adulterer, a rich man is haunted by a hog, and an elderly woman turns unwitting miracle worker. Kenan riffs on appetites of all kinds, on the eerie persistence of history, and on unstoppable lovers and unexpected salvations.

Guillotine: Poems by Eduardo C. Corral

Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, Corral writes dramatic portraits of contradiction, survival, and a deeply human, relentless interiority. These poems wonder about being unwanted or renounced. What do we do with unrequited love? Is it with or without it that we would waste away?

Must I Go: A Novel by Yiyun Li

Lilia Liska has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children, and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair. “Yiyun Li is one of my favorite writers," says Meg Wolitzer, "and Must I Go is an extraordinary book.”

The Son of Good Fortune: A Novel by Lysley Tenorio

Excel is undocumented—and one accidental slip could uproot his entire life. When he takes a journey to a ramshackle desert town called Hello City populated by drifters, old hippies, and washed-up techies—and existing outside the normal constructs of American society—Excel has a chance to forge his own path for the first time. But after so many years of trying to be invisible, who does he want to become?

Lot Six: A Memoir by David Adjmi

Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David is trapped in an insular religious community. Through adolescence, David tries to suppress his homosexual feelings and fit in, but when pushed to the breaking point, he makes the bold decision to cut off his family, erase his past, and leave everything he knows behind. There's only one problem: who should he be?

The Inner Coast: Essays by Donovan Hohn

The Inner Coast collects ten of Hohn's best essays, which feature his physical, historical, and emotional journeys through the American landscape. By turns meditative and comic, adventurous and metaphysical, Hohn writes about the appeal of old tools, the dance between ecology and engineering, the lost art of ice canoeing, and Americans’ complicated love/hate relationship with Thoreau.

Sometimes I Never Suffered by Shane McCrae

In his seventh collection of poems, McCrae depicts an angel plummeing to Earth in his first moments of consciousness. Jim Limber, the adopted mixed-race son of Jefferson Davis, wanders through the afterlife, reckoning with the nuances of America’s racial history, as well as his own. Sometimes I Never Suffered imagines eternity as the culmination of time’s manifold potential to mend.

The New American by Micheline A. Marcom

Emilio, a young Guatemalan American college student, is deported and decides to make his way back home to California. It is an epic journey that takes him across the United States–Mexico border, meeting corrupt law enforcement but also new friends. Marcom's latest was named one of 2020’s most anticipated books by The Millions and Ms. Magazine.

Figure It Out by Wayne Koestenbaum

Through a collection of intimate reflections and “assignments” that encourage pleasure, attentiveness, and acts of playful making, Koestenbaum enacts twenty-six ecstatic collisions between his mind and the world. "[Koestenbaum's] great and singular appeal is this fealty to his own desire and imagination," writes Parul Sehgal, in The New York Times.