Two Idaho writers receive Whiting Foundation awards

The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation named the 10 recipients of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Awards Tuesday, and for the second consecutive year, the list includes two Idahoans — award winning short story writer Alan Heathcock, who lives in Boise, and Obie Award-winning playwright Sam Hunter, who grew up in Moscow and now lives in New York.

Heathcock grew up on the Chicago area and moved to Idaho 10 years ago at the suggestion of his friend, writer Tony Doerr. He started working on his collection of stories that would become “Volt: Stories” (Graywolf Press, $15) as he earned a second degree in writing at Boise State and then taught creative writing there.
Since the book came out in 2011, Heathcock has been gaining national attention and awards.

In 2011, Hunter won his Obie, an award for Off-Broadway theater given by the Village Voice that is the equivalent of Broadway’s Tony, for his play “A Bright New Boise,” which takes place between a father and son in a Boise Hobby Lobby break room.


In 2011, University of Idaho professor Daniel Orsoco won a Whiting for his story collection “Orientation and Other Stories” (Faber & Faber, $23), and Boise poet Kerri Webster won for her collection “We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone,” (University of Georgia Press, $16,95).

Each recipient receives a $50,000 award, totaling $500,000. The Whiting grants have been given annually since 1985 to writers of exceptional talent and promise in their early career.
The group received their awards at a banquet in New York City on Oct. 23.


Ciaran Berry, poetry. His first full-length collection, "The Sphere of Birds," won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition in 2007 and was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2008. Born in Dublin, he lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Danai Gurira, plays. She is author of "Eclipsed" and "The Convert." Born in Iowa and raised in Zimbabwe, she is also an Obie Award-winning actor and divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles.

Mona Mansour, plays. She is the author of "Urge for Going" (Public Theater), "The Hour of Feeling," which just received its world premiere in the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and her new play, "The Way West." She lives in Brooklyn.

Anthony Marra, fiction. He will publish his debut novel, "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena," in 2013 and his story collection, "The Tsar of Love and Techno," in 2014, both with Hogarth Press. Currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford, he lives in Oakland, California.

Meg Miroshnik, plays. Her work includes "The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls," "The Droll {Or, a Stage-Play about the END of Theatre}," "The Tall Girls," and "Cheryomushki," an adaptation of Shostakovich's "Moscow," She lives in Los Angeles.

Hanna Pylvainen, fiction. Her debut novel, "We Sinners," was published this summer by Henry Holt. In 2011 she was a fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and since then has been completing her next novel, The End of Drum Time. She lives in Brooklyn.

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, non-fiction. Her first book, "Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America," published by Little, Brown in 2011, was named among 100 Notable Books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review and nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Originally from Houston, she lives in New York City.

Atsuro Riley, poetry. His first book, "Romey’s Order," was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010, and won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. Born and raised in the South Carolina lowcountry, he lives in San Francisco.