Junot Diaz Named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow

Junot Diaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican novelist, Ethiopian-born writer Dinaw Mengestu are among 23 MacArthur fellows

Last Updated: October 2, 2012 @ 2:23 PM

Authors Junot Diaz and Dinaw Mengestu have been named recipients of the prestigious  MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" fellowships, according to their publisher Riverhead Books.

The award, given to a group of 23, grants a $500,000 stipend, paid out in equal installments over five years, the Associated Press reported. Recipients are given no restrictions on how they use the funds.

Riverhead confirmed that Diaz and Mengestu won the prize in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Diaz, a Dominican-American writer, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," a novel that, in part, analyzes life under his homeland's former dictator, Rafael Trujillo.

Ethiopian-born writer Mengestu and Washington Post reporter David Finkel — who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series on U.S.-backed democracy efforts in Yemen — were on the list of winners, which includes mathematicians, neurobiologists, and a documentary filmmaker.

The scribes join a list of fiction writers who have been previously honored as MacArthur fellows, including David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon and Patricia Hempl.

Limited to U.S. residents or citizens only, potential fellows are nominated with a letter paired with copies of original works, according to the foundation's website.

The MacArthur Foundation is expected to announce the full list of fellows Tuesday. A spokesperson for the nonprofit did not immediately respond to emails from TheWrap for comment.