Books

Jia Tolentino among 10 emerging writers to receive $70K Whiting Award

The Whiting Awards, established in 1985, are awarded annually to emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.
Trick Mirror is an essay collection by Jia Tolentino. (Random House, Elena Mudd)

Canadian-American writer Jia Tolentino is among this year's 10 winners of the Whiting Awards.

The Whiting Awards, established in 1985, are awarded annually to emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The winners each receive a $50,000 US (approx. $70,486 Cdn) prize.

Tolentino, an essayist and New Yorker staff writer, is recognized for her essay collection Trick Mirror.

The essays tackle some phenomenon of popular culture — from social media and celebrity culture to female literary characters — and explore the way these interact with our own self-delusions.

The collection was also a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle prize for best first book in 2019.

Tolentino was born in Toronto, but grew up primarily in the U.S.

Chinese-American Ling Ma author is also among the winners for her debut Severance, a satirical science fiction novel that follows a millennial New Yorker living through a devastating flu pandemic and becomes one of the last survivors in Manhattan.

Severance won a 2018 Kirkus Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.

The other 2020 winners are nonfiction writer Jaquira Diaz, fiction writers Andrea Lawlor and Genevieve Sly Crane, poets Aria Aber, Diannely Antigua, Jake Skeets and Genya Turovskaya and playwright Will Arbery. 

Previous winners include Colson Whitehead, Mary Karr and Tony Kushner.

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