Michener Alumn Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig Wins Whiting Award

We’re proud to announce that Michener Center Alumnus and playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (MCW 2009) is the recipient of a 2024 Whiting Award. The Whiting Awards give $50,000 each to ten exceptional emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

The 2024 Whiting Awards Judges praised how Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s “meticulous and politically acute fables bring the histories of nations, of capital, and of censorship to life.”

According to the Whiting Foundation, “The prizes are designed to recognize excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent, giving most winners the chance to devote themselves full time to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work.”

“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,” said Courtney Hodell, Whiting’s Director of Literary Programs. “The rigor and fluid beauty of their writing make us excited for the work to come.”


Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig‘s trilogy The China Plays was recently published by Methuen Drama. They were produced in the U.K. at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Hampstead Theatre, and the National Theatre, and in the U.S. at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Theater Club, Classic Stage, and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Cowhig was born in Philadelphia and raised in Northern Virginia, Okinawa, Taipei, and Beijing; her father worked for the US State Department. Her work has been honored with the Wasserstein Prize, the Yale Drama Series Award (selected by David Hare), an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the Keene Prize for Literature, and a United States Artist Fellowship.