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

The Believer interviews Anne Boyer

Boyer speaks candidly about capitalism, illness, and her own writing process. "If I perceive my own weakness or my own occluded vision or some moment in which I am not up to the task of discerning some truth or seeking an idea," she explains, "I just include that in the writing."

Whiting winners longlisted for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie medal

Ocean Vuong and Colson Whitehead have been longlisted for the award, in recognition of their novels On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and The Nickel Boys, respectively.

The Brooklyn Rail reviews The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Brooklyn Rail writes that Whitehead's latest novel is "a reminder of where we have been and a warning not to go there again."

The Irish Times reviews This Land Is Our Land by Suketu Mehta

The Irish Times writes that Mehta's latest book, an argument for immigration as a form of reparations, "demolishes xenophobia."

Kaitlyn Greenidge on the role of research in fiction

Greenidge, a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University, discusses the important role that research plays in her fiction writing, including making fictional work more realistic and introducing readers to knowledge that they would not otherwise have access to.

The New York Times reviews Dunce by Mary Ruefle

The New York Times says Ruefle's National Book Award-nominated latest collection "records small moments with sweeping scope, moments in which the speed of thought seems to outpace real time."

 

 

Yale's Beinecke Library acquires Wayne Koestenbaum's literary archive

"Wayne’s work has legs,” library curator Tim Young said. “He has found all sorts of innovative ways to think about and discuss culture." His work joins that of other important contemporary writers - such as David Rakoff, Annie Dillard, and Terry Tempest Williams - housed at the library.

 

 

Craft Literary interviews Molly Gloss

"I try to be generous to my characters," Gloss explains, "even the ones I know I wouldn't like if we meet in reallife [...] And I try to love them even when they're not doing loveable things."

 

Atlanta magazine interviews Jericho Brown

"I want to make sure men know it's possible for them to have feelings and that those feelings are okay to have," Brown remarks during his interview with the magazine. "I think our world would have us believe they're not okay to have."

Whiting winners featured in the New York Times "1619 Project"

Whiting winners Tyehimba Jess, Darryl Pinckney, and ZZ Packer all contributed original work to the project, which examines the legacy of slavery in America.

 

Tupelo Quarterly reviews Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

Tupelo Quartlerly calls Kaminsky's collection "stunning," and declares that his latest work "links the ubiquity of ignorance with its destructive outcomes."

"The Hastily Assembled Angel on Care and Vitality" by Shane McCrae

"They serve their masters most/ quickly after They have devised a plan to kill their masters," declares a new poem by McCrae featured in The Baffler.

"Bed Death & Beyond" by Anne Boyer

In an excerpt from her new book The Undying, featured in Harper's magazine, Boyer reflects, "There is no more tragic piece of furniture than a bed, how it falls so quickly from the place we make love to the place we might die in."

The Baffler reviews The Undying by Anne Boyer

"Boyer's writing explicitly uses language as a bridge from body to body," the magazine writes of Boyer's latest, a book of memoir and criticism about her experience surviving breast cancer.

Passing of Jane Mead

The Whiting Foundation regrets the passing of masterful poet Jane Mead, Whiting 1992, a poet who "draws a sustaining record of the only feeling worth the struggle." (C.D. Wright)

Poets & Writers interviews Jess Row

Row waxes poetric on the (shoulder injury-inducing) titles he read over the summer, the book everyone should own, writing advice from Liz Phair, and more.

Open magazine reviews This Land Is Our Land by Suketu Mehta

Open magazine writes that Suketu Mehta's latest, an argument in favor of immigration as reparations, contains "a rage borne from moral clarity and fostered by the truth."

Mona Mansour helps launch Middle Eastern American Writers Lab

Mansour worked with fellow playwright Kareem Fahmy and the Lark Theatre on the launch of an essential new Middle Eastern America Writers Lab, a new program designed to engage a diverse group of writers at all points in their processes and careers.

"Reader, I Googled It" by Dan Chiasson

"The more we use our screens, it seems, the more power we assign to books as objects, and to turning their literal pages as a timeless icon of languor," muses Chiasson in a piece on Leah Price's new book and reading in print, for the New Yorker.

An excerpt from This Land Is Our Land

"These days, a great many people in the rich countries complain loudly about migration from the poor ones. But as the migrants see it, the game was rigged," writes Suketu Mehta, in an excerpt from his new book This Land Is Our Land featured on Bloomberg Quint.

"Dirty Mirror" by Dana Levin

"Everyone is No one./ But someone/ could be Someone/ in the vertical/ topography/of gods—" muses Dana Levin, in a new poem for the Adroit Journal.

"On Seeing, Waking, and Being Woke" by Jess Row

Row writes about selective love of literature, whitness, and epiphanies, in the Paris Review, musing that "Love, which drives us toward literature in the first place, may be the thing that prevents us from achieving it."

Suketu Mehta interviewed in Electric Literature

Mehta discusses the movitation behind his new book about immigration, This Land Is Our Land, by explaining that "a populist is a gifted storyteller—someone who can tell a false story well. The only way to fight him is by telling a true story better."

The Guardian interviews Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires explains that the goal of a writer "should be to tell the truth in some way, even if it's to tell it slant – or to imagine a better version of the truth" and more in this interview with The Guardian.

 

New Work

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."

The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape by Suzannah Lessard

Suzannah Lessard latest book is a deep dive into our surroundings―cities, countryside, and sprawl―exploring change in the meaning of place and reimagining the world in a time of transition. Bill McKibben writes, "Reading this book will, no kidding, let you look at the world in a new way, and that is a remarkable gift."

Survival Math by Mitchell S. Jackson

Survival Math is an attempt at understanding the antecedents of Jackson’s family’s experience. The narrative is complemented by poems composed from historical documents as well as survivor files, which feature photographs and short narratives of several of Jackson’s male relatives. Survival Math’s reflects on the exigencies—over generations—that have shaped the lives of so many disenfranchised Americans. 

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. The story follows the private lives of deaf townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple expecting a child; the brash director of a puppet theater; and girls who teach signing by day and by night lure soldiers to their deaths. "Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times," says NPR of the collection.