Three alumni and one current student from New York University were among the 10 recipients of the 2016 Whiting Writers’ Awards, which are given annually to writers who have shown exceptional talent and promise early in their careers.

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LaTasha N. Diggs, photo by Jose Ivey.

Three alumni and one current student from New York University were among the
10 recipients of the 2016 Whiting Writers’ Awards, which are given annually to writers who have shown exceptional talent and promise early in their careers.

NYU winners included LaTasha Nevada Diggs ‘02 (BS, Social Studies Education), an alumna of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Madeleine George ‘99 (MFA, Dramatic Writing), alumna of the Tisch School of the Arts; Mitchell Jackson (MFA, ‘04), an alumnus of the Creative Writing Program and an adjunct faculty member in Liberal Studies; and Ocean Vuong, a current MFA student in the Creative Writing Program.

Previous winners of the Whiting Awards, selected by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, include Jonathan Franzen, Sarah Ruhl, Susan-Lori Parks, David Foster Wallace, Colson Whitehead, Tracy K. Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lydia Davis, Mary Karr, Tony Kushner, Michael Cunningham, Alice McDermott, August Wilson, Deborah Eisenberg, Adam Johnson, Elif Batuman, and Anthony Marra. Rinne Goff, a faculty member in the Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, won the award in 2005. Recipients, who range from fiction and non-fiction authors to poets to playwrights, each receive a cash prize of $50,000. The recipients were announced at a ceremony at the New York Historical Society on March 23, 2016.

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is a writer, vocalist, and sound artist. She is the author of three chapbooks and an album, and in 2013 she published the poetry collection TwERK (Belladonna*). Her writing has been published in LA Review, Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Journal of Pan-African Studies, and Muck Works, amongst others; her interdisciplinary work has been featured at The Walker Center, Yale University, and the Whitney. She is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from Cave Canem, Digital Media Arts Center, Naropa Institute, NYFA, and the Jerome Foundation. In 2015, Diggs, along with five other U.S artists, was selected as a participant in the 2016 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program, sponsored by the Japan U.S. Friendship Commission. She received a 2016 Creative Capital grant for her project Global Studies, a collection of poems and flash prose that mimes the textbook structure to examine the ambiguity of history. Diggs is originally from Harlem and lives in New York.

Madeleine George’s plays have been produced or developed at Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, About Face Theatre, and other venues. She has been the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship, the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, a Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, and the Jane Chambers Award. George was a 2010 Lark Playwrights Workshop Fellow. George was also a founding member of the collective 13P (Thirteen Playwrights, Inc.), which won an Obie Award. Her play, The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2014. George has published two young adult novels. She is originally from Amherst, Massachusetts and is currently based in Brooklyn.

Mitchell S. Jackson is a Portland, Oregon native who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Center for Fiction, and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. He published the e-book Oversoul: Stories and Essays in 2012; his novel The Residue Years was released in the summer of 2013. The novel won the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. It was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First novel prize, the PEN/ Hemingway award for first fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award for best fiction by a writer of African descent. Jackson is currently at work on a collection of essays.

Ocean Vuong’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, and The American Poetry Review. He has published two chapbooks, No (2013) and Burnings (2010); his first full-length collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2016. Vuong is the recipient of a 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry. He is originally from Saigon and lives in New York.

An excerpt from the latest work of each winner is available on TheParisReview.org, and all 10 writers will read at a free, public event introduced by former Whiting winner John Wray, Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at BookCourt in Brooklyn, NY. 

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Madeleine George

Madeleine George

Mitchell S. Jackson, photo by John Ricard

Mitchell S. Jackson, photo by John Ricard

Ocean Vuong, photo by Peter Nienkowski

Ocean Vuong, photo by Peter Nienkowski

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