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Loyola Graduate Receives Prestigious $50,000 Whiting Award

Loyola press release - March 24, 2016

Novelist Catherine Lacey brings home one of literature’s top honors for emerging writers

Loyola University New Orleans extends sincere congratulations to alumna Catherine Lacey ’07, who this week received the Whiting Award, given annually to 10 emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. The award, which brings a $50,000 monetary gift to recipients, honors superior early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come.

Recipients of the 2016 Whiting Award were honored Thursday, March 23, at a ceremony held at the New York Historical Society, where poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander, author of the New York Times bestseller The Light of the World, delivered the keynote address.

An excerpt from the latest work of each winner is available on TheParisReview.org, and all ten writers will read at a free, public event introduced by former Whiting winner John Wray at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at BookCourt in Brooklyn, NY.

Mississippi native Catherine Lacey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Loyola University New Orleans, as well as an MFA from Columbia University. Her first novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, published in 2014 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, received great acclaim. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, The Atlantic, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere.

"I am so grateful for the Whiting Foundation and the judges," said Lacey. "And of course I'm thankful to teacher/mentors I had like Martin Pousson, Mark Grote and others in the Visual Arts and Creative Writing departments. I believe a fine arts education, especially in a social justice context, can be a very powerful thing."

Lacey was the recipient of a 2012 NYFA Artists’ Fellowship in Fiction Writing and was named a Granta New Voice in 2014. Her upcoming novel, The End of Uncertainty, and a currently untitled short story collection will be published by FSG. She is based in Brooklyn.

In receiving this award, Lacey joins contemporary literary giants such as David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides, Tobias Wolff, Suzan-Lori Parks, Alice McDermott, and Jonathan Franzen. Past Whiting winners have gone on to win numerous prestigious awards and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Obie Award, and MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Lannan fellowships, according to The Whiting Foundation. Their work has shaped and advanced literature in this country over the past three decades.

News of Lacey’s latest honor is celebrated at Loyola New Orleans, where this semester alone, English majors have been accepted for graduate study at Columbia University, University of Edinburgh, Loyola Chicago, the Strode Center at the University of Alabama, Cornell, University of Maryland, Rutgers, Emerson, Northern Arizona University, University of North Carolina, University of Massachusetts, and in other distinguished programs.

“Loyola’s English department is a community of widely published faculty working with students to help them develop into published writers themselves,” said Loyola English Department chair and Robert Hunter Distinguished Professor John Biguenet, an award-winning writer and playwright.

“Today we learned that Catherine Lacey, a recent graduate of our English program, has won a prestigious Whiting Award for emerging writers, carrying with it a $50,000 prize. Catherine’s first novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, was published in 2014 to great acclaim, and a new novel and a collection of short stories are forthcoming. For English faculty, success is not measured just by what we do; success is measured by what our students do. And as Catherine Lacey demonstrates, our students do very well indeed.”