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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:20 am
The Whiting Ten
Posted by: Keir Graff

Just when you thought a week would go by without more literary awards…it doesn’t.

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 25 – The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation today named ten recipients of the 2006 Whiting Writers’ Awards. The awards, which are $40,000 each, totaling $400,000, have been given annually since 1985 to emerging writers of exceptional talent and promise.

The winners?

  • Sherwin Bitsui, poet, author of Shapeshift (Univ. of Arizona, 2003).
  • Charles D’Ambrosio, short-story writer, author of The Dead Fish Museum (Knopf, 2006).
  • Stephen Adly Guirgis, playwright, author of The Little Flower of East Orange (premieres at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2007).
  • Tyehimba Jess, poet, author of Leadbelly (Verse, 2005).
  • Suji Kwock Kim, poet, author of Notes from the Divided Country: Poems (LSU, 2003).
  • Yiyun Li, short-story writer, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Random, 2005).
  • Micheline Aharonian Marcom, novelist, author of The Daydreaming Boy (Riverhead, 2004).
  • Nina Marie Martínez, novelist, author of ¡Caramba! A Tale Told in Turns of the Card (Knopf, 2004).
  • Bruce Norris, playwright, author of The Pain and the Itch (opened this fall at the Playwrights Horizon in New York).
  • Patrick O’Keeffe, short-story writer, author of The Hill Road (Viking, 2005).

So, let’s say you’re an emerging writer of exceptional talent and promise. How do you go about getting nominated for the Whiting Award?

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.

Anonymous, eh? Seems to me that your best bet is to, whenever you meet anyone connected with fiction, poetry, or playwriting, start talking about how you can’t wait to find out who wins next year’s Whiting Award. Be sure to specifically praise the infallible wisdom of the nominators. And slip a copy of your creative resume and latest manuscript into the person’s bag when they’re not looking. You never know, they might be a nominator!

Next week I’ll reveal my sure-fire method for ensuring that you win the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.


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