Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ben Lerner Awarded MacArthur Genius Grants

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Authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ben Lerner were among the 24 recipients of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation this year. The grants, commonly known as “genius grants,” are awarded to Americans who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” The grant comes with a huge no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000.

The foundation’s managing director told the New York Times: “We take ‘no strings’ quite seriously. They don’t have to report to us. They can use the funds in any way they see fit.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a longtime journalist and blogger at The Atlantic, became a best seller this year with Between the World and Me, a non-fiction book about race in America framed as a letter to his son. Poet and fiction writer Ben Lerner has received widespread acclaim for his two recent autofiction novels Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04.

Other writers who received the award this year were Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the hit play Hamilton, and poet Ellen Bryant Voigt.

Past literary winners include David Foster Wallace (97), Thomas Pynchon (88), Octavia Butler (95), Cormac McCarthy (81), and Susan Sontag (90).

You can see the full list of 2015 winners here.

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