Two Washington writers, Washington Post military reporter David Finkel and novelist Dinaw Mengestu, have been awarded MacArthur “genius” grants, the prestigious fellowship annually awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation. Finkel and Mengestu, along with 21 other fellows, will receive half a million dollars over the next five years to continue work in their field.
Mengestu, a former fellow in Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, has already racked up numerous awards for his 2007 debut novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, which captured the experiences of Ethiopian immigrants living in 1970s D.C. His 2010 book, How to Read the Air, was also widely acclaimed and excerpted in the New Yorker.
Finkel’s dispatches from overseas have long been some of the most touching and grisly reports from America’s foreign wars. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006, and in 2010 took home the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for his book The Good Soldiers, in which he followed a battalion of U.S. soldiers sent to Baghdad as part of President George W. Bush‘s “surge” strategy in 2007.
MacArthur grant recipients also include novelist Junot Díaz, photographer Uta Barth, historian Dylan C. Penningroth, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and other leaders in science, history, social work, and more. See the complete list here.