Three prominent Black female authors — N.K. Jemisin, Jacqueline Woodson and Tressie McMillan Cottom — are among 21 winners of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius grants,” reports CNN, which explained that the winners will receive a $625,000 “no-strings-attached” award paid out over five years.
Since 1981, more than 1,000 people have earned the honor, with acclaimed author Ta-Nehisi Coates and “Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda among them. Like other genius grant recipients, Jemisin, Woodson and Cottom are making names for themselves by “asking critical questions, developing innovative technologies and public policies, enriching our understanding of the human condition, and producing works of art that provoke and inspire us,” said Cecilia Conrad, the MacArthur Fellows managing director.
A speculative fiction writer, Jemisin, 48, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel from 2016 to 2018 for each book in her “Broken Earth” trilogy. Children’s and young adult author, Woodson, 57, has published nearly 30 works featuring the experiences of Black people, thus broadening representation within the genre. Essay writer Cottom, 43, is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science; her book of essays, “Thick,” as well as her popular Twitter account and podcast with Roxanne Gay, explores issues facing Black womanhood in the U.S. and was National Book Award finalist.
The full list of the 2020 winners can be found here.