The Virginia Quarterly Review, the eighty-three-year-old literary journal edited by Ted Genoways at the University of Virginia, won the 2009 Utne Independent Press Award in the category of general excellence, the Utne Reader announced during the Magazine Publishers of America’s Independent Magazine Group conference in Boulder, Colorado. Drawing attention to the quarterly journal's focus on long-form narrative journalism, the editors of the Utne Reader wrote in the award citation that VQR won in general excellence "because we know that intelligent, curious people are starving for these stories, longing for this brand of storytelling. And no one is doing it with more heart or soul."
VQR was also nominated in the categories of Best Writing and International Coverage. The annual awards are given in a total of twelve categories to honor the magazines that best represent the Utne Reader's tagline, "The Best of Alternative Press." Winners were chosen from a library of 1,300 magazines, newsletters, journals, zines, and alternative weeklies; only issues published in 2008 were considered.
Lapham's Quarterly beat out literary magazines Slice and the Open Face Sandwich to win the award in Best New Publication, and the music magazine Fader topped the Believer and Bookforum in Arts Coverage.