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

"What Walmart Doesn’t Get About Juneteenth" by Kaitlyn Greenidge

For The New York Times, Whiting Award winner Kaitlyn Greenidge discusses the traditions Black communities have historically used to celebrate emancipation from slavery. "The agency that comes from deciding your own traditions — a cold water toast, a watch night — become lost to a corporate calendar," she argues.

"Between Bombardments" by Ilya Kaminsky

Whiting Award winner Ilya Kaminsky's latest poem appears in The Atlantic and begins with a birdcall of sorts: "Come on/ skylark/ you door-to-door salesman overselling a song."

The Boston Globe's recommended summer reading

The Globe's summer reading list features Whiting Award winners Victor LaValle, Sarah Ruhl, and Alexander Chee, as well as Creative Nonfiction Grant Kristen Radtke.

Ladan Osman's "The Ascendants"

Whiting Award winner Ladan Osman directed "The Ascendants," in which four young Black women musicians from Chicago talk about how music has shaped them. It's now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Albert Samaha reviews Lost in Summerland

For The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Albert Samaha reviews the essay collection by Barrett Swanson, writing that Swanson "serves as a candid and empathetic narrator, guiding us with restrained cynicism and enticing prose."

Joshua Roebke reviews Restricted Data

For The Los Angeles Review of Books, Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Joshua Roebke reviews the new book by Alex Wellerstein, reflecting "Only a certain kind of person, both foolish and resolute, would choose to study a subject so extensive, yet so restrictive, as the secrets of nuclear weapons."

Seek You is one of Vulture's best books to read this summer

Seek You by Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Kristen Radtke is one of Vulture's top picks for summer 2021 reads. "Radtke is unsentimental yet sincere," reviewer Cornelia Channing writes, "citing research on the impact of social isolation on life expectancy (it’s not good) and offering as salient a description of loneliness as I’ve read."

Tope Folarin recommends summer reads

Whiting Award winner Tope Folarin contributes to Vulture's list of recommended reading, reviewing a new title by Emilio Fraia and the collection It’s Life As I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940–1980.

Four poems by Brandon Shimoda

New Sinews features four "The Hour of the Rat" poems by Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Brandon Shimoda. "I showed her the night before, the moon./ It was full. same as the moon of my homesickness," he writes.

New drawings by Brandon Shimoda

Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Brandon Shimoda has three new drawings from the series "A Giant Asleep in Fortune’s Spindle" featured in Visible Binary

"La Cancion de la Nena" by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

For The Oxford American, Villareal writes about her father, an undiscovered guitar prodigy in the borderlands. "What I experienced as poetry came first through the song my father wrote for me when I was two years old," she reflects.

Kristen Radtke Considers Another American Epidemic: Loneliness

For The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Kristen Radtke writes about why we need to listen to our loneliness as writers and human beings.

"The Stigma of the Lonely Woman" by Kristen Radtke

Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Kristen Radtke takes on what it means to age as a woman in isolation, for Vox.

Poz magazine interviews Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown talks about how HIV, race and rape can coexist with joy, lust and love. "Poetry," he says, "is always waiting for its moment."

Preview "Eve" by Victor LaValle

Check out a preview of part three of Whiting Award winner Victor LaValle's "Eve," a comic book set in a future where the environmental crisis has come to a head. Preteen Eve -- and her android teddy bear -- are out on a journey to save her father (and the world).

Dana Levin on Shane McCrae

"We build hells together, you and I—how do we move forward out of their fires? By walking through them until we wake up, as McCrae, like any dreamer, knows." Whiting Award winner Dana Levin writes about "The Hell Poem" by fellow winner Shane McCrae, for The Rumpus.

Kristen Radtke interviews Alison Bechdel

Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Kristen Radtke interviews Alison Bechdel about her athletic gear, creating a "container for the self," and the extreme difficulty of drawing trees, in The Believer.

"A Chilly Refuge" by Ben Goldfarb

"The Western Glacier stonefly may not be quite as renowned as the polar bear, but it’s just as dependent on ice." Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient Ben Goldfarb writes about the importance of rock glaciers for the National Parks Conservation Association.

"An Evening of International Queer Writing"

Check out a recording of Literary Magazine Prize winners' Words Without Borders and Foglifter's event celebrating queer writing around the world, featuring a dynamic, multilignual lineup with writers and translators from India, Taiwan, Panama and more.

Jericho Brown interviewed in Mississippi Today

Brown discusses the experience of winning a Pulitzer Prize in the midst of the pandemic, why being a poet necessitates the ability to ask hard questions, and how Black churches ignited his childhood interest in poetry.

Aftershocks is one of Grazia's picks for best books of 2021

The magazine calls Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu "[an] astonishingly moving and incredibly timely memoir" and "a nuanced portrait of globalisation from the inside in a fractured world in crisis."

Rowan Ricardo Phillips interviewed on "SABRcast"

Phillips talks to the Society for American Baseball podcast about his screenplay for Legendary’s biopic on baseball icon Roberto Clemente.

Molly Gloss receives the Literary Arts Charles Erskine Scott Wood Distinguished Writer Award

The award honors "an enduring, substantial literary career." The East Oregonian, announcing the award, wrote of Gloss's work, "The arc in Molly’s works [...] takes us away from that damaging mythology into the reality of the American West."

"Making Sacrifices: Reading 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider' in Quarantine" by Peter Trachtenberg

For Taint Taint Taint Magazine, Peter Trachenberg writes about reading Katherine Ann Porter's short novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider, set during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Work

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.

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.

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?

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”