Tucson writer Francisco Cantú snagged this week a prestigious 2017 Whiting Award, which includes, beyond the international attention, $50,000. He'll be honored along with nine other recipients in New York City, a ceremony keynoted by Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee. Note that past Whiting winners impressively include David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides, Denis Johnson, Ocean Vuong, and Deborah Eisenberg. The Whiting Awards was "established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts ($50,000) to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come."
Cantú, who worked for the United States Border Patrol as an agent form 2008-2012 is a former Fulbright fellow who earned an MFA in nonfiction from the UA. Locally, his work has often appeared in Edible Baja Arizona. His bio says he's a frequent contributor to Guernica and a contributing editor at PublicBooks.org, where he curates the “El Mirador” series, which collects original nonfiction, translation, and visual art focused on the American west, the borderlands, and Indian country. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in South Loop Review, J Journal:New Writing on Justice, Ploughshares, and Orion.
Cantú's much-deserved award is for his forthcoming memoir, The Line Becomes a River (Riverhead Books), out 2018. We down here at TW HQ believe this award is a harbinger of things to come for Cantú. We've read excerpts from The Line Becomes and they are lovely and potent. You can read an excerpt here in the Paris Review.