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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

arts community events

IU alum, playwright Nathan Alan Davis wins $50,000 writing award


IU alum and playwright Nathan Alan Davis is one of the 10 writers who will receive a 2018 Whiting Award — an award for emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama that includes a $50,000 prize for each recipient.

Davis, a writer from Rockford, Illinois, who received his master of fine arts from IU, is best known for his plays “Nat Turner in Jerusalem,” “Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea” and “The Wind and the Breeze.”

His play “Nat Turner in Jerusalem” was a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick, while “Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea” won five Helen Hayes Award nominations.

Davis also frequents New York Theatre Workshop, an off-Broadway theater company, and serves as a lecturer in theater at Princeton University.

The Whiting Award, established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, looks for writers with significant early-career achievements that suggest they’ll produce more great literary works in the future.

The Whiting Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million to 330 writers since its start, according to a press release from the foundation.

“Year on year, we’re astounded by the fresh ways Whiting winners challenge form and stretch the capabilities of language, while scrutinizing what’s most urgent in the culture,” said the foundation's director of writers' programs, Courtney Hodell, in the release. “The award is intended to give them the freedom to keep experimenting and growing.”

The other nine 2018 award winners include Anne Boyer for poetry and nonfiction, Patty Yumi Cottrell for fiction, Hansol Jung for drama, Rickey Laurentiis for poetry, Antoinette Nwandu for drama, Tommy Pico for poetry, Brontez Purnell for fiction, Esmé Weijun Wang for nonfiction and Weike Wang for fiction.

The foundation celebrated the winners Wednesday at a ceremony at the New-York Historical Society. Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison, who is an American novelist and essayist best known for her books “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon,” was set to be the keynote speaker but was unable to attend due to inclement weather.

Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, essayist and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, read Morrison's speech instead.

All 10 winning writers will also read some of their works at a free, public event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan, New York.

Christine Fernando

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