2022 Whiting Awards celebrate 10 emerging writers : NPR


Alexis Pauline Gumbs photo by Sukia Ikbal-Doucet; all others by Beowulf Sheehan/The Whiting Foundation

The 2022 Whiting Award recipients

Alexis Pauline Gumbs photo by Sukia Ikbal-Doucet; all others by Beowulf Sheehan/The Whiting Foundation

The winners of the 2022 Whiting Awards might not be household names – yet.

But that’s all part of the plan. Winners of the $50,000 prize – one of the largest monetary awards available to emerging writers – were announced Wednesday evening. The thought is that these authors and future authors will go on to bring their talents to a world of readers.

The award is designed to present emerging writers with “their first chance to devote themselves full time to their writing, or to take bold new risks in their work,” the Whiting Foundation noted in a press release.

“As the world opens up, these brilliant writers open up our world,” said Courtney Hodell, director of Literary Programs. “From fresh cultural criticism, to poems of place and personhood and appetite, to fiction that brings surreal wit to compassionate portraits, their work is the spring thaw of the mind.”

Since the award’s founding in 1985, Whiting winners have gone on to win countless awards and fellowships, including Pulitzers, National Book Awards, Tony Awards and Obies, and become familiar names in the process. Past winners have included Ocean Vuong, Colson Whitehead, Mary Karr, Sigrid Nunez, August Wilson, Don Mee Choi and many other gifted writers.

The ceremony will include a keynote address by MacArthur Fellow and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Maggie Nelson.

The winners of the 2022 Whiting Awards, with commentary from the Whiting Foundation, are:

Claire Boyles (fiction), author of Site Fidelitywhose works “address some of the most urgent issues of our time: climate change, land possession, advances that seem to leave some behind.”

Rita Bullwinkel (fiction), author of belly-upwhose stories “glimmer like objects in a wunderkammer that shift their shapes when taken up in the hand.”

ina darling (poetry), whose “work thrums with an ancient power like spells, or food-memories, placing the reader in a fever dream of observation and sensation.” Their poetry appears in Guernica, Diode, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, Waxwing, New England Reviewand elsewhere.

Anthony Cody (poetry), author of Borderland Apocryphawho, through his poems assembled from official records, historical memory, guidebooks, maps, and edicts, has “enlarged what’s possible for American poetry.”

Anais Duplan (nonfiction), author of Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture, Take This Stallionand Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus, whose writing “devotes itself to the work of others and reveals a writer attuned to the infinite possibilities of human art and identity.”

Alexis Pauline Gumbs (nonfiction), whose book Undowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals“offers new methods of feeling, and insists with the best of environmental literature that protecting the planet’s collapsing animal ecologies is vital to saving what makes us human.”

megha majumdar (fiction), author of to burningwho “makes complex political scenarios real by showing how ordinary people become enmeshed in forces larger than themselves.”

Jesse McCarty (nonfiction), author of Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? and The Fugitivitieswhose “observations on the intersections of history, pop culture, and Black personhood roll over us like an incoming storm of gorgeous sentences.”

Nana Nkweti (fiction), author of Walking on Cowrie Shellsa writer who “makes visible the ebbs and flows of intimacy and captures a borough’s worth of clamorous experience.”

Claire Schwartz (poetry), author of Civil Service, whose voice “is probing, lucid, and aphoristic and also poignantly humane.”

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