Alumna Passarello receives Whiting Award

March 11, 2015 - 10:45am

Nonfiction Writing Program grad among emerging writers recognized March 5

By: Office of Strategic Communication  |  2015.03.06  |  03:09 pm

Essayist Elena Passarello, a 2008 alumna of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program,

Essayist Elena Passarello, a 2008 alumna of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, is a winner of the 2015 Whiting Award, presented in a March 5 ceremony in New York City. This prestigious, $50,000 award recognizes 10 young writers for their extraordinary talent and promise, and is one of the most coveted prizes for up-and-coming writers.

Now an assistant professor of creative writing at Oregon State University, Passarello is the author of the acclaimed collection Let Me Clear My Throat.

“This book hums with emotion,” notes the Whiting judges. “Elena Passarello's essays are a riotous deconstruction of the ways the sounds that we make both express and shape who we are—the annotated soundtrack of us giving voice to ourselves.”

The only essayist to be honored this year with a Whiting Award, Passarello credits the Nonfiction Writing Program with helping her “develop a blended toolbox” that she’s used in each of her subsequent writing projects. “Thanks to the Nonfiction Writing Program,” she says, “I don’t see contemporary nonfiction as a world that’s made up of discrete factions, but as a borderless, millennium-old map of opportunities for inspiration, collaboration, and global thought.”                                                                                                                                      

A 2008 alumna of the University of Iowa, Passarello’s essays have appeared in Oxford AmericanParis ReviewGulf CoastSlate, and Harper’s. Her new book, Animals Strike Curious Poses, is forthcoming from Sarabande in 2016.

The Whiting Awards have been given annually since 1985 and have been awarded to a number of Nonfiction Writing Program alumni, including Amy Leach, Yiyun Li, and JoAnn Beard.

The Nonfiction Writing Program is offered through the Department of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.