The MacArthur Foundation announced today that fiction writer George Saunders and creative nonfiction writer Adrian Nicole LeBlanc are among the twenty-five recipients of this year’s “genius” fellowships. The annual fellowships, each worth $500,000 over five years, are given without restriction in a variety of fields to “enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.”
Saunders, whose short story collections include CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Random House, 1996), Pastoralia (Riverhead, 2000), and, most recently, In Persuasion Nation (Riverhead, 2006), is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and Esquire. LeBlanc’s book Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (Scribner, 2003), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and Esquire, and teaches in the journalism departments of New York University and Columbia University.
The MacArthur Foundation is named after John D. MacArthur (1897-1978), the founder of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, and his wife Catherine (1909-1981). Over seven hundred individuals in different professional fields have received the fellowships since 1981. Past recipients include poets Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, and Mark Strand, and fiction writers Lydia Davis, Thomas Pynchon, and Colson Whitehead.