Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 MacArthur Fellows announced

I'm sort of fascinated by the MacArthur Fellowship. My fascination ties in part to the very essence of the award - I love that there is a foundation out there that is supporting "creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world" with what they describe as "no strings attached" financial support to just keep doing what they are doing. But, I have to admit, that I also really like the fact that the MacArthur Fellowship is nicknamed "The Genius Grant" - I love the idea that each year a bunch of hardworking, creative-minded folks get to officially call themselves geniuses.

The MacArthur Fellowship isn't exclusively given to writers - their website notes that "past recipients have been writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and fishermen, among many others" - but they have been awarded to a number of great writers who have used the funding to further their careers, including the authors of a number of my favourite books: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jonathan Lethem, Cormac McCarthy and David Foster Wallace.

Amongst this year's nominees, there are three authors whose previously published writings you can borrow from Halifax Public Libraries and who you can likely expect to hear more from in the future:
(quotes are from the MacArthur Fellowship website)

Edwidge Danticat: "a novelist whose moving and insightful depictions of Haiti’s complex history are enriching our understanding of the Haitian immigrant experience. In works that chronicle the lives of ordinary Haitians, she evokes themes of family, isolation, and community that, while grounded in a specific cultural milieu, resonate with a wide range of audiences."

Deborah Eisenberg: "a writer of short fiction whose works present an unusually distinctive portrait of contemporary American life. Her exquisitely distilled stories often depict men and women coming to terms with their personal relationships and grappling with the changing social context in which those relationships occur."

Heather McHugh: "a poet whose intricately patterned compositions explore various aspects of the human condition and inspire wonder in the unexpected associations that language can evoke."

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