The MacArthur Foundation announced the recipients of its annual $625,000 fellowships—popularly known as “genius grants”—including authors N.K. Jemisin, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Jemisin, whose most recent novel is The City We Became, was cited by the foundation for “pushing against the conventions of epic science fiction and fantasy genres while exploring deeply human questions about structural racism, environmental crises, and familial relationships.”
Sociologist MacMillan Cottom (Thick and Other Essays) was awarded a grant for “shaping discourse on highly topical issues at the confluence of race, gender, education, and digital technology for broad audiences.”
Texas-based author Rivera Garza (Grieving) won a fellowship for “exploring culturally constructed notions of language, memory, and gender from a transnational perspective.”
Woodson, the National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, was praised by the foundation for “redefining children’s and young adult literature to encompass more complex issues and reflect the lives of Black children, teenagers, and families.”
Other authors to be honored by the foundation this year include playwright Larissa FastHorse, anthropologist Mary L. Gray, sociologist Forrest Stuart, historian Natalia Molina, critic and poet Fred Moten, and environmental health advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers (Waste).
The MacArthur grants have been given out each year since 1981. Past authors to win the fellowships have included Cormac McCarthy, Charles Simic, Jorie Graham, Anne Carson, and Valeria Luiselli.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.