Elena PassarelloAssistant professor of English Elena Passarello has just been named 2015 Whiting Award Winner for creative writing/nonfiction. The Whiting Award is the largest prize in the country to be given to an emerging nonfiction writer.

Since 1985, the Whiting Foundation has supported creative writing through the Whiting Awards, which remain one of the most prestigious and largest monetary gifts to writers (each winner receives $50,000), and are based on early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come. The program has awarded more than $6 million to 300 poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, and playwrights. ‘The two greatest gifts to a writer are time and recognition,” said Courtney Hodell, Director of Writers’ Programs. “We hope this award will free our winners to focus intensely on their work and to take risks.”

The list of Whiting Award recipients since 1985 includes then-emerging talent such as Jonathan Franzen, Mona Simpson, Alice McDermott, David Foster Wallace, Terrance Hayes, Ian Frazier, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Susan-­‐Lori Parks, Jeffrey Eugenides, Tony Kushner, Deborah Eisenberg, Denis Johnson, Tracy K. Smith, August Wilson, and more recent luminaries including Adam Johnson (who won the Pulitzer for The Orphan Master’s Son in 2012), Elif Batuman, and Anthony Marra (author of the critically-acclaimed debut Constellation of Vital Phenomena). For a complete list of winners, please go to www.whiting.org/awards/winners.

Of Passarello, the Whiting Foundation judges say: “Without bringing herself into the telling directly, Elena Passarello hovers above the little moment in history with wise wonder. The subject of her first book of essays, the physical experience of making sound, is fundamental to human experience, yet she is writing in ways that are unique – and fearless. There’s nobody else that sounds like her, or is doing what she’s doing. When she looks at something she finds interesting, she says, ‘Let me see what’s down that road!’ And she runs down that road as fast as she can.”Quoting from the announcement "The awards are based on early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come." 

The award was announced March 5, 2015 at a ceremony in New York, to be followed by public reading on March 6. 

Read more about the award, its previous recipients, and Elena's recognition here: