Merritt Tierce, a Texas native who earned an MFA the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2011, is one of 10 recipients of a $50,000 Whiting Award.
The awards, established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come. To date, $8 million has been awarded to 340 fiction and non-fiction writers, poets and playwrights.
Tierce won in the fiction category. Joining her in the winners circle are: Kayleb Rae Candrilli, poetry; Nadia Owusu, non-fiction; Tyree Daye, poetry; Nafissa Thompson-Spires, fiction; Hernan Diaz, fiction; Michael R. Jackson, drama; Vanessa Angelica Villarreal, poetry; Terese Marie Mailhot, non-fiction; and Lauren Yee, drama. All were honored at March 20 ceremony at the New-York Historical Society, with a keynote address by Adam Johnson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Whiting Award.
In addition to the Whiting Award, Tierce also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award in 2011 and was a 2013 National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Author. Her first book, the novel “Love Me Back” (Doubleday, 2014), was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize for debut fiction and won the Texas Institute of Letters’ Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction.
Tierce’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Oxford American, Southwest Review, and other publications. Now living in Los Angeles, she is a staff writer on the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” and is at work on a book of autofiction about men, sex, writing, the internet, depression, being a woman, physicality and television.