This year's winners come from all over the country—from Wyoming to Miami and Vermont to Texas—offering an eclectic mix of talent that is reflected in their writing. Among the 2007 writers are an Iranian-born novelist, a goat farmer, an English professor who writes about boxing, and an experienced climber and guide in Wyoming's Teton Range. This year's winners include two poets, three fiction writers, three non-fiction writers, and two playwrights.
"The Whiting winners this year represent a broad literary spectrum, and it is particularly gratifying to have a strong showing of playwrights and nonfiction writers," said Barbara Bristol, the Director of the Writers' Program. "Impressed by what these writers have already accomplished, we are confident that in the future their work will be even more remarkable. We hope this recognition will help them move toward that future."
The 2007 recipients were announced at a ceremony at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York on Wednesday, October 24. Dr. Robert L. Belknap, President of the Foundation, and trustee Kate Douglas Torrey presented the ten writers with their awards.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Marilynne Robinson, regarded as one of America's best contemporary writers. Her novel Housekeeping, a modern American classic, received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel. Her second novel, Gilead, won the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She has also written highly acclaimed nonfiction including Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought.
The ten writers recognized this year for their extraordinary talent and promise are:
Sheila Callaghan, plays. Her latest play, Lascivious Something, developed at the Soho Rep, is scheduled for a fall 2008 production at the Cherry Lane Theatre. She lives in Brooklyn.
Ben Fountain, fiction. His first book of stories, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, was published by Ecco/Harper Collins in 2006. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
Paul Guest, poetry. He is the author of two collections, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World (New Issues Press) and Notes for My Body Double, which will be published this year by the University of Nebraska Press. He is currently Visiting Professor of English at University of West Georgia and lives in Carrollton, Georgia.
Brad Kessler, fiction. Birds In Fall, was published by Scribner in 2006. He is completing a nonfiction work, The Goat Diaries, and lives in Vermont.
Cate Marvin, poetry. Her new book of poems, Fragment of the Head of a Queen, was published by Sarabande in August 2007. Ms. Marvin teaches poetry writing in Lesley University's Low-Residency M.F.A. Program and is Associate Professor in Creative Writing at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.
Tarell Alvin McCraney, plays. The Brothers Size was presented at the McCarter Theater and will be shown at the Young Vic in London and at New York City's Public Theater. He lives in Miami.
Carlo Rotella, nonfiction. His latest book, Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, was published by Houghton Mifflin. A Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Boston College, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Dalia Sofer, fiction. Her first novel, The Septembers of Shiraz, was published by Ecco this year. Born in Iran, she lives in New York City.
Peter Trachtenberg, nonfiction. He is the author of Seven Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh, published by Crown. He lives in Red Hook, New York.
Jack Turner, nonfiction. His memoir, Teewinot: A Year in the Teton Range, was published by St. Martin's Press. He lives in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
For more detailed biographies of the 2007 winners, click here.
Whiting Writers' Awards candidates are proposed by about a hundred anonymous nominators from across the country whose experience and vocations give them knowledge about individuals of extraordinary talent. Winners are chosen by a small anonymous selection committee of recognized writers, literary scholars, and editors, appointed annually by the Foundation. At four meetings over the course of the year, the selectors discuss the candidates' work and gradually winnow the list. They then recommend up to ten writers for awards to the Foundation's Trustees. The Foundation accepts nominations only from the designated nominators.
The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation was established in 1963 by Flora E. Whiting. In 1972, her unrestricted bequest of over $10 million enabled the Foundation to establish the Whiting Fellowships in the Humanities for doctoral candidates in their dissertation year. In the years since, the Foundation has annually awarded grants to Bryn Mawr, University of Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale to fund these Fellowships, the recipients of which are selected by each institution. The Foundation created the Whiting Writers' Awards in 1985 under the direction of Gerald Freund, who organized and led the program until his death in 1997.
For more information about the selection process,
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