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

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.


The New York Times profiles Michael R. Jackson

The New York Times profiles the "funny and self-examining" Michael R. Jackson and talks to him about his "equally hilarious and brutal, lacerating and tender" show, A Strange Loop.


Colson Whitehead interviewed in Literary Hub

Whitehead discusses John Carpenter, space travel, tackling writers block, and more.



The Adroit Journal reviews Survival Math by Mitchell S. Jackson

The Adroit Journal urges readers to pick up a copy of Jackson's latest, writing, "It is our duty to understand the contexts that lead to the awful negotiation of survival math in the first place. Read the whole book. Read the footnotes. Learn."

Slate interviews Michael R. Jackson

"I don't worry about whether it's 70 percent white, and 30 percent black, because regardless," Michael R. Jackson tells the publication about his new musical A Strange Loop, "the center of the story is still a black one. That, to me, is what's the most important."

Newsday reviews The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Newsday says Whitehead's new novel has "the hot breath of a true story" and "a beautiful, unforgettable young hero who walks right off the page into your heart."

Slate reviews The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

"Whitehead negotiates a tightrope walk between the need to depict the experience of race and racism," writes Slate, "and a stubborn individualistic resistance to the claims of collective identity."

Publishers Weekly reviews Feed by Tommy Pico

Publishers Weekly calls Pico's newest collection "riveting" with "moments of stunning beauty."



Musical Theater Today interviews Michael R. Jackson

Michael R. Jackson explains that, when he creates a work of art, "My audience is always changing, depending on what the piece is." He also delves into the role of audience, experimentation within musical theater, why A Strange Loop isn't autobiographical, and more.



Colson Whitehead featured on the cover of TIME magazine

"If greatness is excellence sustained over time, then without question," TIME writes, "Whitehead is one of the greatest of his generation." Whitehead, profiled by fellow Whiting winner Mitchell S. Jackson, is featured on the cover of the magazine.

The Johannesburg Review of Books reviews On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

The Review calls Vuong's novel "an elegant feat of language manipulation."

Arts ATL interviews Jericho Brown

Of the life of a poet, Brown says, "You become an occasion for which people can come together." Brown also talks about book tours, being an "ambassador of poetry," and the limits of the genre. 

Lauren Yee receives a 2019 Doris Duke Award

Yee is one of two playwrights to receive the $275,000 award for 2019.

The Lily interviews Jennifer duBois

Jennifer duBois gives her unfiltered writing advice, telling writers to "try to amuse yourself first," and talks about what she hopes readers remember after they finish her new novel, The Spectators.

Broadway World reviews A Strange Loop

Broadway World says Michael R. Jackson's musical A Strange Loop is a "clever, tuneful and gloriously neurotic mix of self-exploration and social commentary."

"Portrait of Atlantis as a Broken Home" by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

"I age in reserve until I am as/ small as my child/ body, my chest swollen/ with bright longing," writes Villareal in a new poem for Poets.org.

New Work

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.

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.