Ling Ma and Jia Tolentino are among the 10 winners of this year’s Whiting Awards, given annually to emerging writers in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.
The awards, which come with cash prizes of $50,000, were announced by the Whiting Foundation yesterday on Twitter and Facebook.
Ma, whose novel, Severance, won the 2018 Kirkus Prize, was named a winner in the fiction category, with judges calling her book “a marvel of form.” The other winners were Genevieve Sly Crane (Sorority), cited by the judges for her “clear-eyed, razor-sharp sentences,” and Andrea Lawlor (Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl), praised for their “mythic and gritty, lyric and witty” writing.
Tolentino, whose essay collection, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, was one of last year’s best-reviewed books, was named a winner in the nonfiction category, along with Jaquira Díaz (Ordinary Girls). The judges praised Tolentino for “compulsively readable” essays and Díaz for her book’s “indelible images of violence and tenderness.”
Four poets won Whiting Awards this year: Aria Aber (Hard Damage), Diannely Antigua (Ugly Music), Jake Skeets (Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers), and Genya Turovskaya (The Breathing Body of This Thought).
The lone winner in the drama category this year was Will Arberry (Heroes of the Fourth Turning).
Usually, Whiting Awards winners are honored in a ceremony, but it’s been postponed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Whiting Foundation said that it looks forward “to rescheduling a celebration of the winners once restrictions on public gathering have been lifted.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.