To be an emerging writer who gets some kind of formal acknowledgment is one thing; for that nod to come with a check for $50,000 is something else entirely.
The 2013 Whiting Writers’ Awards -- which do, yes, come with $50,000 prizes -- were announced at a gala ceremony Monday night in Manhattan. As usual, the authors are not household names -- yet.
The goal of the Whiting Awards is to support writers early in their careers so they can focus on their work. Having now been awarded for 29 years, previous Whiting Writers’ Award winners have gone on to do great things. They include novelist Jonathan Franzen, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Colson Whitehead, National Book Award-winning poets Terrance Hayes and Mark Doty, National Book Award finalists C.D. Wright and Ben Fountain and many more.
The 10 authors who have been awarded the 2013 prizes write in many genres; two write both fiction and nonfiction; four write fiction; two are poets; and there is one nonfiction writer and one playwright.
Take note of these writers. They are, as described by the Whiting Foundation:
Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, fiction/non-fiction. Her novella, “The Man Who Danced with Dolls,” was published in 2012 by Madras Press. Born in Guam, she is at work on her memoir about growing up aboard a cutter in the South Pacific. She lives in Wilmington, N.C.
Amanda Coplin, fiction. Her first novel, “The Orchardist,” was published by HarperCollins in 2012, and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner. Recognized this year by the National Book Foundation as a “5 Under 35,” she lives in Portland, Ore.
Jennifer DuBois, fiction. Her debut novel, “A Partial History of Lost Causes,” was published by Dial in 2012, and her new novel, “Cartwheel,” was published in September by Random House. She teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Virginia Grise, plays. She is the author of several plays, including “blu,” “Making Myth,” “rasgos asiaticos,” and “a farm for meme.” A recipient of the Yale Drama Series Award, she is currently a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Lab. She lives in Brooklyn.
Ishion Hutchinson, poetry. His first collection, “Far District: Poems,” was published by Peepal Tree Press Limited in 2010. Born in Jamaica, and a recipient of the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, he is an assistant professor of English at Cornell and lives in Ithaca, N.Y.
Morgan Meis, non-fiction. “Ruins,” his collection of essays on art, literature and contemporary life, was published by Fallen Bros. Press in 2012. He is the critic-at-large for The Smart Set, an arts magazine at Drexel University.
C.E. Morgan, fiction. Her first novel, “All the Living,” was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2009. She has been honored by the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” and The New Yorker’s “20 under 40.” She lives in Berea, Ky.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, poetry. His first collection, “The Ground,” was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 2012. He is an associate professor of English at Stony Brook, director of the Poetry Center as well as a contributing writer for Artforum. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.
Clifford Thompson, fiction/non-fiction. Many of his essays on books, film, jazz and American identity were collected in “Love for Sale,” which was published this year by Autumn House Press. He is also the author of a novel, “Signifying Nothing,” published through iUniverse, and has an arts blog, tellcliff.com. He lives in Brooklyn.
Stephanie Powell Watts, fiction. She was awarded the 2012 Earnest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut story collection, “We Are Taking Only What We Need” (BKMk Press). Currently at work on a novel, she lives in Bethlehem, Pa., where she is an associate professor at Lehigh University.