This year’s Whiting Writers’ Awards — ten $35,000 prizes given to emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays — will be handed out at the New York Public Library on October 28. Past winners include Jonathan Franzen, Mary Karr, Michael Cunningham, Allegra Goodman, Tony Kushner and Alice McDermott. The names of only two of last year’s recipients ring a bell for me — Lewis Robinson and Jess Row — but I’m sure that will change.
The anonymous nomination process is intriguing:
Whiting Writers’ Awards candidates are proposed by nominators from across the country whose experience and vocations bring them in contact with individuals of extraordinary talent. Winners are chosen by a selection committee consisting of a small anonymous group of recognized writers, literary scholars, and editors, appointed annually by the Foundation. At four meetings over the course of the year, the selectors discuss the candidates’ work and gradually winnow the list. They then recommend up to ten candidates for awards to the Foundation’s Trustees. The Foundation does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations.