National Book Award–winning author Jacqueline Woodson, three-time Hugo Award–winning author N.K. Jemisin, and Cristina Rivera Garza, one of Mexico's most decorated contemporary fiction writers, were among the 21 people chosen to receive this year’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowships, popularly known as “genius grants.”
The annual MacArthur Fellowships award each recipient a grant of $625,000 to be dispensed over five years, with no strings attached as to how the recipient must spend the money.
Other authors that were awarded 2020 MacArthur Fellowships are sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom, author of Thick and Other Essays, a 2019 NBA finalist; sociologist Forrest Stuart, author of Ballad of the Bullet: Gangs, Drill Music, and the Power of Online Infamy (2020); and historian Natalia Molina, author of How Race is Made in America Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (2014).
Woodson is the winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young People literature for her verse novel Brown Girl Dreaming. Jemisin won three Hugos for her Broken Earth trilogy, and is the author of the 2020 novel The City We Became. The English-language editions of Garza's The Taiga Syndrome and The Iliac Crest were published in the U.S. in 2018 and 2017, respectively, and both received starred reviews from PW.
According to the foundation’s guidelines, the MacArthur Fellowships are awarded to individuals “who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future. The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their creative activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements.”