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Graphic novelist from Hawaii first to win Whiting Award

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NEW YORK >> A graphic novelist based in Hawaii, a reporter for an offshoot of The Economist and a contributor to The New Yorker are among this year’s winners of the Whiting Award, a $50,000 honor given annually to 10 emerging fiction and nonfiction writers.

R. Kikuo Johnson is the first graphic novelist to receive a Whiting since the prize was established in 1985, according to the Whiting Foundation, which announced the awards Wednesday night. Other winners include Linda Kinstler, who writes for The Economist’s 1843 magazine; New Yorker writer Stephania Taladrid; fiction writers Marcia Douglas, Sidik Fofana and Carribean Fragoza; poets Tommye Blount and Ama Codjoe; dramatist Mia Chung and poet-dramatist Emma Wippermann.

“Every year we look to the new Whiting Award winners, writing fearlessly at the edge of imagination, to reveal the pathways of our thought and our acts before we know them ourselves,” Courtney Hodell, Whiting’s director of literary programs, said in a statement. “The prize is meant to create a space of ease in which such transforming work can be made.”

Previous winners include David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides and Suzan-Lori Parks.

The Whiting Foundation bestows the awards annually on 10 new writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama who show early accomplishment and the promise of making a lasting mark on literary culture.

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