'Genius' Grants Out; This Artist Can Finally Afford a Studio

Graphic novelist Gene Leun Yang among 23 winners
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2016 6:24 AM CDT
Gene Leun Yank, a graphic novelist.   (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

(Newser) – This year's "genius grants" from the MacArthur Foundation are out, with 23 people receiving a no-strings-attached award of $625,000 over five years, reports the AP. You can see full bios of each at Newsweek, while Jezebel highlights the women on the list. A sample of the new honorees:

  • Gene Luen Yang, an acclaimed graphic novelist whose books include American Born Chinese, which in 2006 became the first novel of its kind to receive a National Book Award nomination. "Practically speaking, I haven't had a studio for a while now," he says. "For the past few years, I've been working at local cafes and from a corner in my bedroom."
  • Claudia Rankine, one of poetry's brightest and most innovative stars. She is best known for her book-length tapestry of poems, prose, and images about racism, Citizen: An American Lyric, a 2014 release that won the National Book Critics Circle prize and several other honors.

  • Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, known for plays such as An Octoroon and Neighbors. At 31, he is the youngest of the recipients, notes the New York Times.
  • Anne Basting, a theater professor who, among other things, created a program that employs storytelling and creativity to help seniors with dementia.
  • Bill Thies, a computer scientist who works with low-income residents of India. “In technology, we tend to think of creativity as meaning futuristic, large, expensive things,” he tells the Times. “With my work, it’s the other way around.”
  • Maggie Nelson, a poet and critic best known for the autobiographical The Argonauts.
  • Joyce Scott, a jewelry maker and sculptor.
  • Ahilan Arulanantham, a human rights lawyer.
See all the winners here. (Read more MacArthur genius stories.)

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