Literature Fellowships represent the National Endowment for the Arts' most direct investment in American creativity. The goal of the fellowships program is to encourage the production of new work and allow writers the time and means to write. Since 1967, the Arts Endowment has awarded 3,400 creative writing fellowships worth $45 million, resulting in many of the most acclaimed novels of contemporary literature: Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, Oscar Hijuelos's The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, William Kennedy's Ironweed, and Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country.
In addition, since 1981 the NEA has awarded Translation Fellowships for bringing world literature to American audiences. More than 380 translators have received awards to translate books from 67 languages and 81 countries, such as Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, translated by Natasha Wimmer with support from an NEA Translation Fellowship.
Since 1990, 96 of the 166 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA Literature Fellows. Most received NEA Literature Fellowships before any major national award, usually at least a decade earlier. In addition, at least a dozen more NEA Literature Fellows received these awards in literary criticism, general nonfiction, young adult literature, translation, and lifetime achievement. We invite you to peruse a sampling of our recent fellows here at the Writers' Corner.