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

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.”

“The Ascetic Insight of W. S. Merwin” by Dan Chiasson

Chiasson reflects, in the New Yorker, on the poet’s decades-long career, writing “Merwin’s asceticism has always had about it the prowess of a sophisticate."

Hyperallergic reviews Astropastorals by Douglas Crase

Crase’s collection is a “reminder that the history we are brooks no conclusion,” writes Hyperallergic, and says that his poetry’s “reach is enormous.” 

The Rumpus book club with Danzy Senna

The Rumpus discusses New People by Danzy Senna, whose novel was the website’s book club pick in August. Senna sheds light on why writing about race comes naturally to her, and how she inhabits her characters without judging them.

“Jimmy’s Blues” by Clifford Thompson

Thompson explores James Baldwin’s declaration that he was a blues singer, and delves into the ways that Baldwin brought the “beat of the blues” back to the written word. 

The New York Times profiles Stephen Adly Guirgis

Guirgis discusses his first return to the stage in thirteen years, the difficult life of a TV writer, and missing his close friend, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. 

The Adroit Journal interviews Tracy K. Smith

Smith discusses the religious “soul-searching” she engaged in while writing her memoirs, and why she believes “art is trying to do something that’s fundamentally impossible.” 

Guernica interviews Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle talks about taking time to write his new novel, The Changeling, and why he is obsessed with book structure. 

Slate reviews Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

Slate praises the “hallucinatory” writing in Klam’s novel, writing that Who Is Rich? treads familiar midlife crisis territory yet still manages to feel “vital.”

The New York Times reviews Fast by Jorie Graham

The New York Times writes that Graham’s new collection allows readers to “make sense” of mourning both public and private, and explains how Graham’s experiments with language can seem both playful and terrifying. 

Brian Blanchfield and Safiya Sinclair are PEN Center USA 2017 Literary Awards finalists

Blanchfield is a finalist in Creative Nonfiction for his collection Proxies, and Sinclair, for Cannibal, is a finalist in Poetry. The winners will be announced in September. 

“How Angelos Invented the L.A. Summer – in the Beginning was the Barbecue”

For the Los Angeles Times, D.J. Waldie explores the origins of Los Angeles summer: barbecue, “itsy-bitsy” bikinis, and surf boards. 

“August Wilson’s Pittsburgh”

The New York Times explores the city and people who inspired the playwright, whose “poetic form could take over a room.”

The Baffler reviews New People by Danzy Senna

The Baffler writes that Senna explores race and political consciousness with dark humor, and praises her ability to create a narrator that is unique but also reminds readers she is “just like you or anyone else going through run-of-the-mill trauma.” 

“The Ineradicable Color-Line: Danzy Senna’s New People

The Los Angeles Review of Books delves into Du Bois’s theory of visible racism, Danzy Senna’s New People, and what happens when the body becomes an “inconsistently locked home.” 

Alexander Chee receives the Paul Engle Prize

Presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, the $10,000 award honors a writer with a “pioneering spirit in the world of literature.” Chee is the sixth recipient of the award. 

“In Memoriam” by Safiya Sinclair

Inspired by Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colussus,” Sinclair’s ode to America laments, “White is a state of mind. Spangled. Blinding,/ Shining sky awash in all its shining.”

DC Theatre Scene reviews Wig Out! By Tarell Alvin McCraney

DC Theatre Scene calls McCraney’s play about African American drag ball culture “beautiful, raw, and real.” 

“I Got a Rapper to Take Me to McDonald’s in His Limo” by Danzy Senna

In Lenny Letter, Danzy Senna remembers what it was like to be a teenager in 1985 – big hoop earrings, cigarette budgets, and a disapproving mother – and recalls her sister reading Doug E. Fresh’s palm in a hotel bedroom. 

Wildness reviews In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae

The new literary magazine from Platypus Press discusses the importance of naming in McCrae’s collection, writing “Shane demonstrates the way whiteness writes itself into a false sense of safety.”

“How to Get Over an Aversion to Whiskey” by Matthew Klam

In the Wall Street Journal, Klam learns to like – or at least tolerate – whiskey, a drink he had previously deemed “like old socks soaked in gasoline.” 

Electric Literature reviews The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Electric Literature says LaValle’s latest novel about the horrors of fatherhood is a “masterpiece” that will “haunt your dreams.”

 The New York Times reviews Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

The Times praises Klam’s ability to make a well-documented topic – a middle-aged male artist having an affair – seem fresh, and writes that Klam’s new novel “feels like a little miracle.” 

“America Today, In Vision and Verse”

In The New York Times, six photographers share work inspired by American poems, including “’N’em” by Jericho Brown and “Ladies’ Arm Wrestling Match at the Blue Diner” by Jenny Johnson. 

Publications & Productions

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. 

Sorrow Bread by Mark Cox

In this collection, poems selected from Cox's thirty-year career converse with each other across books and across time. They explore essential connections--one's relationship to poetic tradition, the reader, the natural world, other lives, language itself. 

Winter Hill by Timberlake Wertenbaker

Set in Bolton, in the near future, Winter Hill centers on a group of eight local women as they deal with the ramifications of land on nearby Winter Hill being sold to developers to create a luxurious skyscraper hotel. Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play explores how a group of seemingly ordinary women endeavour to protect their local community, no matter the cost.

Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello

Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth, each of the essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. "This book will leave little doubt that Passarello is one our country’s most gifted young prose writers," writes Héctor Tobar.