NEW YORK CITY: Tonight the Whiting Foundation announced the 10 winners of its 2018 Whiting Awards at a ceremony at the New-York Historical Society, with a keynote by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.
The awards recognize emerging writers of novels, non-fiction, poetry, and theatre. Playwrights honored this year include Nathan Alan Davis (Nat Turner in Jerusalem, Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea), cited by Whiting for his “uncanny gift for allegory and language, boiling down the large narratives of the African-American past to the scale of individuals wrestling to express themselves”; Hansol Jung (Among the Dead, Cardboard Piano), whose plays are said to “knit together the agonies of Korean history, the restless excitement and anxiety of the tech age, and the shapes of loss and longing”; and Antoinette Nwandu (Pass Over, Breach), whose “blistering interrogations of race, power, and violence range from symbolic to highly naturalistic works.”
Established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, the Whiting Awards remain one of the largest monetary gifts ($50,000) for emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come. More than $7.5 million has been awarded to 330 fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights to date.
“Year on year, we’re astounded by the fresh ways Whiting winners challenge form and stretch the capabilities of language, while scrutinizing what’s most urgent in the culture,” said Courtney Hodell, director of writers’ programs, in a statement. “The award is intended to give them the freedom to keep experimenting and growing.”
The list of Whiting Award recipients since 1985 includes playwrights August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner, and Lucas Hnath.