Warm congratulations to 2009’s Whiting Award winners for poetry, fiction, and plays! These are the winners in fiction (click here for a full list of recipients):
– Adam Johnson: Emporium (Viking 2002), Parasites Like Us (Viking, 2003)
– Nami Mun: Miles from Nowhere (Riverhead 2009)
– Salvatore Scibona: The End (Graywolf 2008)
– Vu Tran: as-yet-untitled first novel is forthcoming (W.W. Norton)
In addition to the honor of receiving such a prestigious award, and the chance to be introduced by keynote speaker Margaret Atwood, these writers also received a substantial monetary prize: at $50,000, the Whiting is one of the few awards that can, without additional support, sustain a writer while he or she works on a book. New York magazine focuses on this angle in their coverage, “Broke Writers Rejoice After the 25th Whiting Awards”:
“There are actually risks to living this way,” says Salvatore Scibona, author of The End, who, before he won a Whiting last night, was scraping by. Last Sunday he totaled his used Subaru Loyale; with no anti-lock brakes or airbags, he was especially lucky to walk away. With his winnings, Scibona plans to buy a new car (one that meets all current safety standards).
Time isn’t always money for a writer, but money always buys time. In the eight years she worked on her novel Miles from Nowhere, Nami Mun — perhaps this year’s least obscure Whiting winner — supported herself as a street vendor, an Avon lady, a photojournalist, a bartender, and a criminal-defense investigator. She’ll use the money “to stay in my apartment for ten hours a day.”
Look for an interview with Nami Mun (by Greg Schutz) on FWR next week, and check out our interview with Salvatore Scibona (by Mike Hinken) from earlier this year.