Jesmyn Ward receives Genius Grant from MacArthur Foundation


Jesmyn Ward, Tulane associate professor and National Book Award winner, was selected as a 2017 MacArthur Fellow yesterday for her contributions to southern literature.

The fellowship, known as a genius grant, awards 20-30 individuals in a variety of fields $625,000 for showing originality and dedication in their work.

The fellowship has three criteria: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. The foundation calls the genius grant a no-strings attached award.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation champions her body of work for “exploring the enduring bonds of community and familial love among poor African Americans of the rural South against a landscape of circumscribed possibilities and lost potential.”

Ward will receive quarterly stipends over the course of five years, intended to give the author the freedom and flexibility to further explore her artistry.

Ward’s latest book, “Sing, Unburied, Sing: a novel,” was published in September and is a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. Her previous works are “The Fire This Time,” “Men We Reaped,” which was the 2015 Tulane Reading Project selection, “Salvage the Bones,” which won the National Book Award for fiction and “Where the Line Bleeds.”

Ward joined the Tulane English department in 2014.

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