Donald Antrim & Karen Russell Receive MacArthur Genius Grants

By Jason Boog Comment


Authors Donald Antrim and Karen Russell were among the 24 creators and thinkers picked as MacArthur Fellows for 2013. These “genius grant” recipients will be the first class of fellows to receive a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend (compared to the previous $500,000 stipend).

The foundation published glowing biographies of the two writers. They cited  Donald Antrim‘s reputation as a “writer’s writer” who “has yet to achieve major commercial success.” Here’s more:

He is a professor at Columbia who is deeply committed to his students, and he is currently working on a new novel and collection of short stories. His style is highly contradictory — at once absurd but relatable, free but structured, romantic but realistic, funny but sad. His unusual style blends tightly controlled prose with comic absurdity and surreal events.

The foundation also described Russell, a 32-year-old writer who will be the year’s youngest fellow. Check it out:

Karen Russell is an acclaimed fiction writer who blends fantastical elements with emotional realness and has an enchanting imagination and lyrical prose. Her book Swamplandia! received much recognition and was inspired, like all her work, by her native Florida and the mysticism of the Everglades.

The list also included pianist and writer Jeremy Denk for “engaging listeners and readers in a deeper appreciation of classical music through unmatched musical ability paired with an unusual eloquence with words.”

Playwright Tarell McCraney also received a grant for his work, “evoking a sense of our shared humanity in works that explore the diversity of the African American experience and imbue the lives of ordinary people with epic significance.”