For the second time in two years, a Rutgers–Camden educator has been named a MacArthur Fellow. Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Karen Russell, a distinguished guest teacher in Rutgers–Camden’s master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing program, has earned the prestigious award, known popularly as the “genius grant.”Russell is one of 24 fellows who will receive the $625,000 gift from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to pursue creative activities without specific obligations or reporting requirements. She now joins Jacob Soll, a former professor of history, who, in September 2011, became the first Rutgers–Camden scholar to be awarded the prestigious honor.
“We send our heartiest congratulations to Karen Russell,” says Kriste Lindenmeyer, dean of the Rutgers–Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Rutgers–Camden is very lucky to have her as a distinguished guest teacher in the master of fine arts in creative writing program. High-quality teaching, coupled with exceptional creativity and scholarship, is a proud tradition at Rutgers–Camden. Clearly, Karen Russell is an outstanding example of that commitment by our faculty.”
Russell, who was named one of The New Yorker’s top 20 young writers under age 40, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, Swamplandia!
In 2011, she won the Bard Fiction Prize for St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, a collection of short stories. Her stories have been featured in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, Granta, Zoetrope, and other publications. A new collection of short stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, was published in February.
A resident of New York City, Russell is leading three MFA sessions at Rutgers–Camden this fall, during which she will be sharing some of her favorite works of fiction in a series of wide-ranging literary discussions. She has also read from her works and led workshops as a guest author in Rutgers–Camden’s celebrated Writers in Camden series.
Rutgers–Camden’s MFA in creative writing is a 42-credit terminal degree in the theory and practice of writing. The program offers a mix of workshops, craft courses, literature courses, and the Rutgers Summer Writers’ Conference, which features intensive summer study with well-known publishers and authors of poetry, fiction and memoirs. For more information about the program, visit mfa.camden.rutgers.edu.