Whiting Awards

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 Economic Times interviews Suketu Mehta

Mehta discusses why rural cities are becoming depopulated, and the problem with data journalism. 

NBC reviews Here in Berlin by Cristina García

NBC writes that García’s latest is her “most striking and profound to date,” and says that the novel serves as an important reminder to confront political demons. 

The Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Here in Berlin by Cristina García

Praising her depiction of city life, the LARB calls Here in Berlin “an impeccable linguistic exercise in narratology and a brilliant exploration of the various identities we adhere to in metropolitan environments.” 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead wins the Hurston/Wright Award

The Hurston/Wright Awards honor African American writers; Whitehead was a winner in fiction. The judges called the novel a work of “remarkable craft and imagination.”

Hotel magazine interviews Luc Sante

Sante discusses what it means to be “a citizen of the twentieth century” and why he believes “the world is not losing its poetry.”

The Virginian-Pilot reviews The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery

The Pilot calls Peery’s new novel about siblings vying for their parents’ affection a “powerful” tale of the “beauty and danger” of familial love. 

Literary Hub interviews Alice McDermott

The novelist discusses the modern reader’s relationship to “the imagined world.” “We’ve forgotten to ask what a book means," McDermott explains. "We just want to know what it’s about.” 

Cleaver Magazine interviews Jericho Brown

Brown discusses why he doesn’t consider the reader when writing poetry, lessons he teaches his students, and says, “What I try to do as a poet is make the poems I wish I were reading.” 

The Irish Times interviews Alice McDermott

McDermott talks about the Russian writers that inspired her Irish fiction, her relationship with the Catholic Church, and why her fiction isn't based on her real-life family - despite what readers think. 

Alexander Chee profiles Park Chan-wook

For T Magazine’s annual “Greats” issue, Chee profiles the Korean director and a master of sex and violence in film. The two discuss the influence of James Bond films and visit the tiny, nearly empty room where Chan-wook does his writing. 

The Believer interviews Ishion Hutchinson

Ishion Hutchinson discusses colonized language, the self as synecdoche, and claiming the effects of catastrophe. 

“In A Shared Dream Who Acts” by Shane McCrae

“America I woke     to you at the moment/ You fell asleep I write to you from the dream,” McCrae narrates in a new poem for the Arkansas International.

“Epic Stories That Expand the Universal Family Plot” 

The New York Times reflects on writers whose work rewrite history through family sagas, including Whiting winners John Keene and Layli Long Soldier. Keene’s work in particular, the Times writes, “raises unwritten possibilities from the past’s dormant margins.”

The New Yorker reviews Mary Jane by Amy Herzog

Hilton Als says that Herzog’s latest play, about a mother and her disabled son, is “beautiful.” “Families rarely live up to our dream of what they should be,” Als reflects of the play's themes, and calls Mary Jane Herzog’s “most satisfying work to date.”

“The Mariner’s Progress” by Ishion Hutchinson

In an eight-part poem for Poetry, Hutchinson probes the concept of ancestry and declares, “Yes, having a gift is to be called./ Since it is given, let it go.”

The Guardian profiles Ocean Vuong

The Guardian shares Vuong’s “amazing” story of his journey to poetry and talks to Vuong about why he believes “when you’re telling stories it’s very hard to hate each other.”

The Los Angeles Times interviews Tarell Alvin McCraney

McCraney reveals what Oprah said to him when she woke him up with a phone call, and talks about what gave him “permission to talk to God.” 

“The Passport of Whiteness” by Darryl Pinckney

In the New York Review of Books, Pinckney discusses “how much about race immigration is,” and wonders “is there a distinction between xenophobia and racism?”

The Washington Post reviews The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Post remarks on the many ways one can read McDermott’s new novel – as love story, Gothic tale, or Greek tragedy – and calls the book “superb and masterful.” 

Alice McDermott is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in Fiction

McDermott is a finalist for her novel The Ninth Hour, about a young Irish immigrant determined to prove himself. The prize honors books have received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews over the past year. 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a finalist for the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize

The literary award honors “the power of literature to promote peace, justice, and global understanding.” The Underground Railroad is a finalist for the fiction prize. 

The Star Tribune reviews Whereas by Layli Long Soldier

The Tribune writes that the collection “collapses the distance between a word and an action,” and says that the work is “incisively intelligent and emotionally resonant.”

New Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith Reports for Duty

Smith began her service with an opening lecture at the Thomas Jefferson building, where she read selections from her three collections. She remarked that she was eager to travel and see “what poems speak to that is relevant to lives in other places.” 

Ars Technica reviews The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The horror novel about social media and voyeurism “subverts expectations,” Ars Technica writes, declaring LaValle’s latest, “the perfect reimagining of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen for the modern oversharing era.”

Publications & Productions

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery

Peery's novel about the wounds and bonds of familial life follows the Campbell family, who are grappling with their youngest son's addiction. Confronting his addiction requires them to contend with the messiness of all big families, and of life. Jill McCorkle calls Peery's latest "unforgettable." 

Mary Jane by Amy Herzog

Mary Jane is a portrait of a single mother’s relationship with her severely disabled son. As she deals with near-constant crisis, she encounters a cast of women who enable her persistence. The New York Times says "Mary Jane [is] the most profound and harrowing of Ms. Herzog’s many fine plays."

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides's first story collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national emergencies. A failed poet becomes an embezzler; a high school student takes drastic measures to escape the strictures of her immigrant family. The Los Angeles Review of Books says that Fresh Complaint "showcases the vast breadth of humanity its author can call to life."

Your Healing Is Killing Me by Virginia Grise

Grise's latest is a performance manifesto drawing from experiences with free health clinics, abortion doctors, Marxist artists, and dermatologists. Your Healing Is Killing Me reflects on living with post-traumatic stress disorder and more in our current moment.

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

After the suicide of a young Irish immigrant, an aging nun directs the way forward for his widow and his unborn child. Publishers Weekly calls McDermott's latest "an immense, brilliant novel."

The Astropastorals by Douglas Crase

The 13 poems in this collection were written when the internet was accessed from stationary terminals and the atmospheric CO2 still below 360 ppm. Together for the first time, they interrogate the idea of history. Hyperallergic says the collection's "reach is enormous."

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

In what GQ calls "the funniest book of the year," the year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. At the end of the school year, Selin heads to Hungary to teach English, journeying further inside herself to come to grips with first love and becoming a writer. 

New People by Danzy Senna

Maria and Khalil are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." They're starring in a documentary about "new people" blurring the old boundaries. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her -- yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, dredging up dangerous secrets from the past. "Everyone should read it," writes Vogue

The Answers by Catherine Lacey

Plagued by bizarre symptoms, Mary Parsons seeks relief from a holistic treatment. To cover the cost, Mary lands a job as Emotional Girlfriend in the “Girlfriend Experiment”―the brainchild of an infamous actor, Kurt Sky. With so little to lose, Mary falls headfirst into Kurt’s ego-driven simulacrum of human connection. The New York Times calls Lacey "the real thing."

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Vulture says horror fans "can't miss" LaValle's latest novel, about Apollo, who's settling into his new life as a parent. When his wife commits a horrific act and vanishes, Apollo travels to a forgotten island, a graveyard full of secrets, and a forest trying to solve the mystery.

Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

At an arts conference in New England, once-famous cartoonist Rich finds himself trying not to think about his failing career and the shameless shenanigans of his colleagues. Is his own very real desire for love and human contact going to rescue or destroy him? Jennifer Egan calls Klam's latest "an electric amalgam of frustration and tenderness."

Autobiography of a Terrorist by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Sayrafiezadeh's play, starring a character named Saïd, explores growing up Iranian and Jewish-American during the Iran hostage crisis. As he and his well-meaning collaborators try to stage his script, things go quickly and hilariously from bad to worse, leading Saïd to wonder if he will ever be able to fit in.