Upon the announcement of the winners of Yale's new Windham Campell Prizes today, nine writers learned that they would be the recipients of big bucks. The grants awarded in conjunction with the honor are worth $150,000, and according to the New York Times are "among the largest literary prizes in the world."
The nine winners include fiction writers James Salter, Zoë Wicomb and Tom McCarthy, nonfiction writers Jonny Steinberg, Adina Hoffman and Jeremy Scahill, and playwrights Naomi Wallace, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Tarell Alvin McCraney. Their accomplishments are varied and many, not unlike the winners of the MacArthur Fellowship Program, whose "genius grants" have climbed to $500,000 over the last 22 years. Guirgis (pictured above at left) is perhaps best known for writing the play The Motherfucker with The Hat, which starred Chris Rock on Broadway. Scahill (above at middle) is a correspondent for The Nation. Wicomb (above at right) is a South African author who has written novels and short story collections.
Yale established the prizes after the death of novelist Donald Windham, who left a large portion of his estate to set up the honor in his and his partner, Sandy Campbell's name. Per the prizes' website:
The pair discussed the idea of creating an award to support writers for many years, inspired by Windham’s early monetary struggles and the important role financial independence played in his career as a writer.
By comparison, Pulitzer Prize winners get $10,000.