Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts and Alan Heathcock Among Whiting Award Winners

The Whiting Foundation recently announced the winners of its 2012 literary awards, which offer ten grants of $50,000 to emerging poets, fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, and playwrights.

The 2012 Whiting Award recipients include nonfiction writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts of New York City, whose first book, Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America (Little, Brown, 2011), was among the 100 Notable Books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; poet Ciaran Berry of Hartford, Connecticut, whose first full-length collection, The Sphere of Birds, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008) won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition in 2007; poet Atsuro Riley of San Francisco, whose first book, Romey’s Order (University of Chicago Press, 2010) won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress; fiction writer Alan Heathcock of Boise, Idaho, whose short story collection Volt (Graywolf Press, 2011) was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize; fiction writer Anthony Marra of Oakland, California, whose debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and short story collection, The Tsar of Love and Techno, will be published in 2013 and 2014, respectively, by Hogarth Press; and fiction writer Hanna Pylväinen of New York City, whose debut novel, We Sinners, was published this past summer by Henry Holt.

Four playwrights, Danai Gurira, Samuel Hunter, Mona Mansour, and Meg Miroshnik also received the awards. 

The "no strings attached" grants are given to writers whose early work suggests a promising literary career to come. Past recipients of the Whiting Award have included Michael Cunningham, Mark Doty, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Tracy K. Smith, John Jeremiah Sullivan, David Foster Wallace, Colson Whitehead, and C. D. Wright.

The New York City-based Whiting Foundation has given the Whiting Awards annually since 1985. Candidates are nominated for the award by literary professionals, and an anonymous selection committee of accomplished writers, editors, and literary scholars appointed by the Whiting Foundation chooses the winners. There is no application process.