Playwrights Lead the Way at Whiting Writers’ Awards

The 2012 Whiting Writers' Award winners: (standing l to r): Meg Miroshnik, Samuel Hunter, Hanna Pylväinen, Jeffrey Eugenides (keynote speaker), Mona Mansour, Anthony Marra; (sitting l to r): Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Alan Heathcock, Danai Gurira, Atsuro Riley, Ciaran Berry

The $50,000 prize was also awarded to three fiction writers, two poets and a nonfiction writer.

Ten writers, including an unprecedented four playwrights, were recipients of the 2012 Whiting Writers' Award in New York City on Tuesday night.

The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation has given the awards of $50,000 each annually since 1985 to emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays who show exceptional talent and promise.

Since the program's inception, the foundation has awarded more than $6 million to 280 writers. This year's winners include four playwrights (the most ever in one year), three fiction writers, two poets, and a nonfiction writer.

VIDEO: Awards Watch Roundtable: The Writers

The ten 2012 Whiting Writers' Award winners are: Ciaran Berry (poetry) Danai Gurira (plays), Alan Heathcock (fiction), Samuel D. Hunter (plays), Mona Mansour (plays), Anthony Marra (fiction), Meg Miroshnik (plays), Hanna Pylväinen (fiction), Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (non-fiction) and Atsuro Riley (poetry).

"We hope these ten marvelous writers will feel encouraged by Whiting's recognition at this critical early moment,” said Barbara Bristol, Director of the Writers’ Program, in a statement. “Our judges have cast their votes not for a specific work, but for the abundant promise of future work they see there. Some of these writers have yet to publish a first book. Of particular note are the four playwrights, all taking on big questions with remarkable adeptness and maturity. That they are so generously represented here is an indication of how rich and vibrant the theatre is today -- and will certainly be tomorrow."

Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and a 1993 Whiting award recipient, gave the evening's keynote address.

The foundation's track record in spotting talent is impressive. Past recipients include Jonathan Franzen, Mark Doty, David Foster Wallace, Jo Ann Beard, Tony Kushner, Sarah Ruhl, Colson Whitehead, C.D. Wright, Margaret Talbot, Michael Cunningham, Bruce Norris, Tracy K. Smith, and John Jeremiah Sullivan.

The awards were announced Tuesday at a ceremony at the Times Center.

 

Email: Joshua.Stecker@thr.com; Twitter: @joshuastecker

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