Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grantees, Omar El Akkad Wins Scotiabank Giller Prize, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The recipients of the 2021 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants, which are awarded to “writers in the process of completing a book of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction,” have been revealed. The nine writers, who represent eight distinct projects, are Rebecca Clarren, Darwin BondGraham, Ashley D. Farmer, Kevin González, Sangamithra Iyer, Lorelei Lee, Catherine Venable Moore, Nina Siegal, and Ali Winston. Each grant is $40,000, providing the writers “additional means to do exacting research and devote time to composition.”

The winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most valuable literary award, which comes with a purse of $100,000 CAD (approximately $80,602), is What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad. The jury praised the novel as “a portrait of displacement and belonging that is at once unflinching and tender.” (CBC)

Noting the high pay gap for disabled employees at Penguin Random House U.K., novelist Penny Batchelor considers what is needed to redress pay inequity for disabled people in the industry at large. (Bookseller)

“While I could speak to people in a scientific way, or a political way, I choose poetry in the end because I think it’s the easiest way to reach people and have them respond with their humanity.” Emtithal Mahmoud, an UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador who wrote a poem for the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, shares how visits with refugees informed the piece.

“After my mother passed, for the first year I didn’t write anything. I couldn’t write. And after that it just started to pour out.” Jenny Qi describes the personal and collective grief suffused in her debut poetry collection, Focal Point. (Rumpus)

“I get very disturbed when I feel something is being presented in an overly broad way.” Mary Gaitskill discusses her new essay collection, Oppositions, and the limited language for sexual violence. (Guardian)

Molly Hennessy-Fiske highlights a selection of books for which school libraries have fielded challenges, including Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer and Jerry Craft’s New Kid. (Los Angeles Times)