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

Ploughshares reviews A Handbook of Disappointed Fates by Anne Boyer

Ploughshares praises Boyer's "calculated prose" and writes that "A Handbook is emphatically grounded in the realities of modern life, and seasoned with a generous dose of wit." 

"Decolonizing Poetic Form"

In Ploughshares, an essay on the use of form in Terrance Hayes's American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins argues, "Tonally dynamic and sonically pleasing, these poems insist there’s no difference between high and low diction/culture/art, especially when you’re writing for your life." 

Pacific Standard interviews Rickey Laurentiis

Laurentiis shares his recommendations for Frank Bidart's "Ellen West," mixed media artist Devan Shimoyama, television show "Feud: Bette and Joan," and more.

"Tracy K. Smith Explores Christianity’s Connection to Poetry"

Tracy K. Smith discusses parallels between poetry and the Bible, such as metaphor, and says that "poetry is one of the languages that puts us in touch with our higher selves." 

Catherine Barnett reads Wisława Szymborska

Catherine Barnett reads Symborska's poem "Maybe All This" and discusses the work with New Yorker poetry editor Kevin Young. "I don't think that that person, the speaker who is alone, is pathetic," Barnett remarks. "I think the aloneness is a pulling together of the split self into a whole." 

"The Trouble You Promised: Reading Tracy K. Smith"

A review in the Los Angeles Review of Books remarks on the use of love in Tracy K. Smith's newest collection Wade in the Water, observing that, in Smith's work, "love dwells in paradox." 

 

"Failed Attempts at Explanation" by Paul Guest

In the Adroit Journal, Guest's new poem explores themes of rejection with the line "In the night, in that benign darkness, I sing what I’m not able to bear."

"Audition" by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Sayrafiezadeh's New Yorker story explores the acting dreams of a New York construction worker, who boldly declares of his ambition,  "The more I dreamed, the more vivid the dream seemed to be, until it was no longer some faint dot situated on an improbable time line but, rather, my destiny."

Image Journal on the work of Shane McCrae

Image Journal discusses how poets Carl Phillips, Leslie Harrison, and Whiting winner Shane McCrae use innovative poetic lines, calling McCrae's work  "an act of great empathy and exposure."

"Forrest Gander's Grief Sounds" by Dan Chiasson

In the New Yorker, Whiting winner Dan Chiasson writes about fellow winner Forrest Gander's latest collection, a "chronology of loss," describing the book as "a self-suturing wound, equal parts bridge and void."

The Guardian reviews The New Testament by Jericho Brown

"The New Testament, daringly juxtaposes the sacred and the profane, and in doing so encourages us to reconsider those very terms," writes The Guardian, praising Brown's "powerful" subversion of religious verses.

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."

New Work

Human Hours by Catherine Barnett

In her tragicomic third collection, Barnett speaks carries philosophy into the everyday and asks, what are we to do with the endangered human hours that remain to us? Human Hours measures time with quiet bravura: by counting a lover’s breaths; by remembering a father’s space-age watch. "These unforgettable poems," writes Claudia Rankine, "draw us into the precarious nature of being human."

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."

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."

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.”

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."