The MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants have risen from $500,000 to $625,000 this year, but for recipient Karen Russell, the real prize is time. The author wrote her Pulitzer-nominated debut novel, Swamplandia!, while working part time at a vet clinic, reports the AP, and has been traveling from city to city taking writing gigs at universities to support herself since, adds the New York Times. Now she can write full time, and stay in one place. "Just the idea of having a stretch of time where you can commit your time wholeheartedly to a project, nobody gets that," says Russell, per the AP.
The $625,000 stipend is paid out over five years, and can be used in any way the winners (there are 24 of them) see fit. Dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham, 36, who has in the past had to rely on food stamps to get by, says the money will help him pay his dancers and rent, the Times reports. Attorney Margaret Stock, 51, says the money will help continue her work advocating for US military personnel and their families who are facing immigration issues, reports the AP. Other 2013 recipients include a medieval historian, an astrophysicist, a paleobotanist, a jazz pianist, an experimental physicist, and a statistician. The AP has a full list of names. (Read more MacArthur Grant stories.)