Weinberg alumna wins MacArthur ‘genius grant’

Joseph Diebold, Campus Editor

Fiction writer Karen Russell (Weinberg ’03) is the youngest of 24 winners of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships, the foundation announced today.

Russell, who graduated a decade ago with a degree from Weinberg’s creative writing program, will receive $625,000 over five years for winning the renowned “genius grant.” 

“When I got the call from the MacArthur Foundation, all of these physiological things you hear about shock turn out to be true,” Russell said in a video released by the foundation. “I was, like, quakey. I was just giddy, really giddy, sort of an incredible effervescent feeling.”

Russell’s 2011 novel “Swamplandia!”earned a place on The New York Times’ list of the top 10 books of the year. She has also published two short story collections and been featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 Fiction Issue.

“It’s a really strange endeavor to want to write fiction, so I think the luxury to really feel that wise guy sense that you get to pursue what is deeply interesting to you, your natural obsessions as a writer, and to get that kind of validation, is really enormous,” she said.

Joseph Diebold