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Jaquira Díaz during her visit to USF in 2019

USF Alumna Jaquira Díaz wins prestigious Whiting Award in Nonfiction

TAMPA, Fla. -- University of South Florida Department of English alumna Jaquira Díaz is the winner of a 2020 Whiting Award in Nonfiction for her memoir “Ordinary Girls.”

The Whiting Awards judges described Díaz’s “Ordinary Girls” as a “devastating memoir built on the helical structure of memory itself… packed with indelible images of violence and tenderness that evoke landscapes and neighborhoods, families and strangers, drink and drugs and junk food and beach sand and the bodies of lovers and friends.”

The Whiting Awards, established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts ($50,000) to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come. A total of $8 million has been awarded to more than 300 fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights to date.  

“Ordinary Girls” was also a Summer/Fall 2019 Indies Introduce Selection, a Fall 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, a November 2019 Indie Next Pick, and a Library Reads October pick. 

Díaz earned her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from USF. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Kenyon Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. A former Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Consulting Editor at the Kenyon Review, she splits her time between Montréal and Miami Beach.

Her second book, “I Am Deliberate,” a novel, is forthcoming from Algonquin Books.

Filed under:Arts and Sciences English