The National Endowment for the Arts has just announced the recipients of the 2012 NEA Prose Fellowships. I had the honor of serving on this year’s selection panel, so I’m particularly excited to see the winners’ list posted. The 40 finalists were chosen from a field of over 1200 applicants—which is to say, they’re all really, really good writers. I do have my favorites, and may talk about them in a later post, but having been on the jury I have to say the blind submission process has a lot to recommend it. So if you’re looking for someone new to read, do yourself a favor and take a chance: Pick a few names off the winners’ list at random, and head for your nearest library, independent bookstore, or e-reader. They won’t all be to your taste, but I guarantee at least one of them will be an author you’ll be glad to get to know, who you would never have even heard of otherwise. And that’s your tax dollars at work, right there.
Many thanks to my fellow panelists, who were as civil as they were passionate about their likes and dislikes, and to the NEA staff, who took great care of us, kept things running smoothly, and, oh yeah, have the coolest headquarters of any federal agency:
And to the new Fellows themselves: Congratulations! Discovering your work and getting to share it with other people is both a pleasure and a privilege.