At an in-person ceremony held on March 29 in New York City, Tommye Blount, Mia Chung, Ama Codjoe, Marcia Douglas, Sidik Fofana, Carribean Fragoza, R. Kikuo Johnson, Linda Kinstler, Stephania Taladrid, and Emma Wippermann were announced as 2023 Whiting Award winners. Elected by a committee of writers, literary scholars, and editors appointed each year by the Whiting Foundation, winners of the award receive a $50,000 cash prize and are recognized as emerging talents in their respective categories of drama, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
In a keynote address, by Pulitzer Prize winner and PEN president Ayad Akhtar, award recipients were encouraged to "keep going."
"We want more," said Akhtar, who also served as the evening's host. "There is nothing commencing tonight, but rather something being announced—a ratification of the remarkable work you’ve done and are doing."
Established in 1985, the Whiting Awards "recognize excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent." Previous award winners include Don Mee Choi (poetry); National Book Award winner John Keene (fiction, poetry); and Pulitzer Prize winners Anne Boyer (poetry, nonfiction), Jericho Brown (poetry), and Colson Whitehead (fiction).
With more than $9.5 million awarded to 370 fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights to date, the Foundation's cash prize serves to recognize early-career achievement and "empower recipients to fulfill the promise of exceptional literary work to come.
“Every year we look to the new Whiting Award winners, writing fearlessly at the edge of imagination, to reveal the pathways of our thought and our acts before we know them ourselves,” director of literary programs Courtney Hodel said l in a press release. “The prize is meant to create a space of ease in which such transforming work can be made.”
An in-person event on March 30, to be held at the Center for Fiction, will feature readings by each of this year's Whiting Award winners from their winning works. For more information about the event, including complete biographical information and comments from this years judges, click here.