Out Of Africa: Motswana Author Gothataone Moeng Wins 2024 Whiting Award For Emerging Authors

Motswana author Gothataone Moeng has been announced as one of ten emerging authors who have been declared winners at this year’s Whiting Awards. 

Each writer will receive $50,000 to help support their craft — one of the largest awards granted to new authors.

Moeng earned the award for Call and Response, a collection of nine stories set in contemporary Botswana. The other winners include: Aaliyah Bilal (Temple Folk, Fiction), Yook Choi (Skinship, Fiction), Shayok Misha Chowdhury (Public Obscenities, Drama), Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (The China Plays, Drama), Elisa Gonzalez (The Iliad, Poetry), Taylor Johnson (Inheritance, Poetry), Charif Shanahan (Trace Evidence, Poetry), Javier Zamora (Solito – Nonfiction, Unaccompanied – Poetry) & Ada Zhang (The Sorrows of Others, Fiction).

Courtney Hodell, Whiting’s director of literary programs, said in a statement: “This year’s winners have made liminal space their own — that place of potential that exists between states, whether those are genres, languages, countries, or definitions of self.”

Born in Serowe, Botswana, Gothataone Moeng is a Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing (UW-Madison), a former Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a former Fiction Fellow in the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She has also received fellowships and support from Tin House, where she was a Summer Workshop Scholar, and from A Public Space, where she was an Emerging Writer Fellow. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, One Story, A Public Space, and the Oxford American, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Mississippi.

Her book Call and Response has been described as capable of “enthralling leaps in time and point of view” and “written with a deft hand.”

Since 1985, the Whiting Awards, powered by The Whiting Foundation,  is given annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The awards, of $50,000 each, are based on early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come. Though the writers may not necessarily be young (talent may emerge at any age), the grant ideally offers recipients a first opportunity to devote themselves fully to writing, and the recognition has a significant impact.  Whiting winners have gone on to win numerous prestigious awards and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize.

Writers are shortlisted by a pool of nominators which changes annually, and usually includes writers, professors, editors, agents, critics, booksellers, artistic directors of theatres, dramaturgs, and directors of literary festivals or reading series. Winners are chosen by a selection committee, a small group of recognised writers, literary scholars, and editors appointed every year by the Foundation. 

The Whiting Foundation was created by the late Flora Ettlinger Whiting, a New York investor, collector, and philanthropist with a lifelong commitment to culture. She was a founding member of the Friends of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Foundation endeavours to honour Mrs. Whiting’s astute judgment and her love of the arts and humanities.

Find out more about the Whiting Awards and the works of this year’s winners here.


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