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This year’s MacArthur fellows include six literary writers.

Corinne Segal

October 6, 2020, 12:01pm

Proving that good news is somehow still possible in 2020, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded fellowships (or as they are commonly known, “genius grants”) to a group of writers whose work interrogates structural racism through their approaches to narrative and language.

This year, the fellows include Tressie McMillan Cottom, whose work as a sociologist addresses race, gender, and institutional power; Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming and other children’s and young adult books that reflect the Black experience; N. K. Jemisin, whose speculative fiction includes The Broken Earth Trilogy; Cristina Rivera Garza, who writes from a transnational perspective, taking a fluid approach to language and identity; Larissa FastHorse, a playwright and member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation; and and Fred Moten, a cultural theorist, poet, and professor at New York University.

They will all receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support their work.

Jemisin in a statement said that she was writing the stories that she wished had existed for her when she was growing up.

“Marginalized people writing about marginalized lives is sometimes perceived as groundbreaking, or challenging, or threatening because we live in a world in which women and Black people are inherently politicized,” she said. “And so the only way that we can get to the point where our lives are less politicized is to normalize them by just simply doing our best to tell our stories.”

See the full list of the 2020 fellows here.

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