At a ceremony held this evening at the New-York Historical Society in New York City, the Whiting Foundation announced the ten winners of the 2023 Whiting Awards. The awards, now in their thirty-eighth year, celebrate exceptional emerging literary talent. Each winning writer receives a prize of $50,000 in support of their work.
This year’s winners are poets Tommye Blount and Ama Codjoe; poet and dramatist Emma Wippermann; fiction writers Marcia Douglas, Sidik Fofana, and Carribean Fragoza; nonfiction writers Linda Kinstler and Stephania Taladrid; dramatist Mia Chung; and graphic novelist R. Kikuo Johnson, who is the first graphic novelist to be recognized with the award.
The winners will read together at an event at the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, March 30 at 6:30PM. The event is free and open to the public and will also be livestreamed.
“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,” said the foundation’s director of literary programs Courtney Hodell in a press release. “The prize is meant to create a space of ease in which such transforming work can be made.”
Since its inception in 1985, the Whiting Awards have bestowed a total of $9.5 million on 370 celebrated writers. For many recipients, this financial support enables a “first chance to devote themselves to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work.” Previous winners include such luminaries as poets Don Mee Choi, Roger Reeves, and Ocean Vuong; fiction writers Denis Johnson, Ling Ma, Sigrid Nunez, and Colson Whitehead; nonfiction writers Elif Batuman and Jia Tolentino; and playwright Tony Kushner.
There is no application process for the Whiting Awards. Recipients are nominated by a rotating pool of writers, editors, professors, critics, and others working in the literary or dramatic arts. Final selections are made by a panel of “recognized writers, literary scholars, and editors.” The Whiting Foundation’s other initiatives include the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants, which support the development of researched nonfiction books and are open for applications through April 25.