MacArthur ‘genius grants’ go to novelists Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward

Among 2017’s recipients of the $625,000 honours are two novelists exploring the lives of minority communities in the US

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward, two novelists exploring how writers from minority communities must “claim the same rights” as the majority, have landed $625,000 (£470,000) MacArthur fellowships, popularly known as “genius grants”.

The no-strings-attached fellowships, which have previously gone to writers including Claudia Rankine and Ta-Nehisi Coates, are intended “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations”. Two novelists were among this year’s selection of 24 fellows, which included mathematicians, historians, computer scientists and anthropologists. Ward was picked for novels “exploring the enduring bonds of community and familial love among poor African Americans of the rural South, against a landscape of circumscribed possibilities and lost potential”. Nguyen was chosen for “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam war and exploring the myriad ways ...