News & New Work

News & Reviews

"Denis Johnson's God"

"When I got sober, I stayed away from the book for many years," says writer Aaron Thier in a piece for The Point about spiritual themes in the work of Denis Johnson.  "I was afraid of what I’d find." 

Cape Cod Times profiles Justin Cronin

The Times talks to Cronin about what inspired him to write The Passage and the new TV series based on the book. Cronin also shares advice for aspiring writers: "Dare yourself to do something you don’t know how to do and figure it out.” 

"How Tarell Alvin McCraney Moved From ‘Moonlight’ to Broadway — and Beyond"

"At the rehearsal for Choir Boy," writes Carvell Wallace in his New York Times profile of McCraney, "what I witnessed was a man who has made himself a connoisseur of grief sharing that expertise with a roomful of younger black artists." 

"Now Wait for This Week" by Alice Sola Kim

"Why not understand that everything contains at least one tiny nugget of its opposite, why not find a socially acceptable way to shriek with rage in public," asks Kim's new short story, from A People's Future of the United States, edited by fellow winner Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.

Three Whiting winners are finalists for National Book Critics Circle Awards

Denis Johnson, Francisco Cantú, and Terrance Hayes (nominated in two categories, poetry and criticism) are all finalists for the 2018 awards.

"Why Michelle Obama’s Memoir Should Have Demanded More of Us" by Yiyun Li

Li explains why she wanted more from the language in Becoming and asks, "'When they go low we go high,' is the epitome of symbolic language.Yet what is the unnamed in the slogan?" 

Tommy Pico interviewed on Otherppl

On literary podcast Otherppl, Pico discusses the importance of readings, explaining, "I think it’s audacious to think that you’re going to have a reader anyway, but if you do have one and they do show up, I do want to give them something." 

Publishers Weekly profiles Esmé Weijun Wang

Wang discusses her book of nonfiction, The Collected Schizophrenias, which Publishers Weekly calls "possessed of a candor and beauty likely to earn her many devoted fans." 

"Could a Daily Poetry Podcast Save Your Mental Health?"

Electric Literature profiles Tracy K. Smith's daily poetry podcast, Slowdown Show. "Our lives are full of unacknowledged contradictions," Smith remarks of her desire to share one certain piece on the show. "We are full of unacknowledged contradictions.” 

Whiting winners featured in New York Times critics' picks

New York Times book critics discuss their top titles of 2018, including books by Whiting winners Deborah Eisenberg, Lisa Halliday, Terrance Hayes, Denis Johnson, and recent National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez.

“Last Will and Testament” by Ilya Kaminsky

"I was always happy in barbershops. Now happiness, come blow your nose in my hands—". A new poem by Kaminsky, from his upcoming collection Deaf Republic, is featured in the Paris Review.

Four Whiting winners will guest edit Poem-a-Day in 2019

Whiting winners Tracy K. Smith, Paul Guest, Eduardo C. Corral, and Sherwin Bitsui will each guest edit a month of poetry.

The Atlantic reviews The Circuit by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

"The thing that Phillips really nails is the specific dedication it takes to follow the sport," writes The Atlantic, praising the "exacting style and keen observations" in Phillips's book about tennis.

"From Life" by Shane McCrae

"none of our/ Friends but the friends who died so long ago/ They aren’t our friends anymore/ I do what old friends do/ And love them anyway." A new poem by Shane McCrae is featured in the Paris Review

A conversation with Jericho Brown and Tracy K. Smith

In the Believer, Smith talks to fellow winner, Poetry Editor Jericho Brown, about why, "Publishing a first book made me feel like I was finally a member of a team." 

"The Microscopes" by Jericho Brown

"I can’t remember/ The exact date or/ Grade, but I know when I began ignoring slight alarms/ That move others to charge or retreat. I’m a kind/ Of camouflage." A new poem by Jericho Brown is featured in The Nation.

"Back Draft: Catherine Barnett"

Catherine Barnett breaks down the process behind a poem in her latest collection, Human Hours. Of her process, Barnett explains, "Revising is about the hope of finding or making a poem that has an emotional charge of its own, outside of my control and even outside of my knowing."

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is one of the Chicago Tribune's best books of 2018

Denis Johnson's short story collection about the ghosts of the past and the mysteries of the universe is one of ten books named by the Chicago Tribune as the year's best.

Three Whiting winners featured on Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2018 list

The list of the ten best titles of 2018 includes How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, and The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson.

Columbia Journal interviews Jericho Brown

Brown discusses his literary touchstones, the best advice he's ever received, and the importance of discipline.

"A Facet’s Gleam: Ai and the Believable 'I'" by Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams reflects on the life and work of poet Ai in Poetry magazine, writing that "Ai wears masks to unveil a truer, darker, more visceral version of the world and from that darkness we discover the effacement of our own masks." 

"Radical Sufficiency" by Jess Row

"These towns are nothing but petri dishes, and we’re nothing but flowers of exotic mold. Endlessly customized achievement modules," writes Jess Row, in a new story for Granta about robots and capitalism. "We’re the event horizon of commodified childhood."

"The Ghost in the Dirt" by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Phillips explores the history of the Gougoltz, hotelier who helped birth clay-court tennis, in the Paris Review, writing that "everything Gougoltz had done in Cannes was synchronized with the birth and rise of tennis. He just hadn’t known it." 

"Sylvia Plath's Last Letters" by Dan Chiasson

In the New Yorker, Chiasson writes of Plath's letter to her former psychiatrist. He notes that "as her letters, more than any other documents, reveal, Plath monitored life from behind a façade of chipper enthusiasm. Her genius took shape hidden by this screen." 

New Work

The Gilded Auction Block by Shane McCrae

In The Gilded Auction Block, McCrae considers the present moment in America, the American project, and Americans themselves. He responds directly to Donald Trump and contextualizes him historically and personally, exploring white supremacy in America.

Casting Deep Shade by C.D. Wright

Casting Deep Shade is a passionate, poetic exploration of humanity’s shared history with the beech tree. Before Wright’s unexpected death in 2016, she was deeply engaged in years of ambling research to better know this tree. Her last book demonstrates the power of words to conserve, preserve, and bare witness.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang writes of with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, the medical community’s own disagreement about diagnosing those with mental illness, and the examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. Entertainment Weekly calls the collection "utterly unique."

Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li meets life’s deepest sorrows as she imagines a conversation between a mother and child in a timeless world. Composed in the months after she lost a child to suicide, Where Reasons End trespasses into the space between life and death as mother and child talk, free from old images and narratives. Andrew Sean Greer calls it "the most intelligent, insightful, heart-wrenching book of our time."

A People's Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams

Editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. The result is a collection of twenty-five tales that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. 

The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Ricardo Phillips chronicles 2017 as seen through the unique prism of its pivotal, revelatory, and historic tennis season, painting a vibrant portrait of tennis that captures the emotions, nerves, and ruthless tactics of the game and places them in a broader cultural and social context. The New York Times Book Review says The Circuit is "a joy to read" and calls it "a poet’s love song to the game of tennis."

Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui

Drawing upon Navajo history and enduring tradition, Sherwin Bitsui uses language that functions like a moving camera to depict urban and rural, past and present in the haze of the reservation. Poet Arthur Sze says of the collection, "[Bitsui's] poems and prose poems enact a personal ceremony."

Godsend by John Wray

Eighteen-year-old Aden Sawyer wants to escape her hometown. Her dream, however, is far from conventional fantasies of teen rebellion: she disguises herself as a young man named Suleyman and goes to study in Pakistan. Once she is on the ground, she finds herself in greater danger than she could possibly have imagined. The New York Times calls Godsend "a significant literary performance."

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."

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."

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.