Only 38 writers received the award, with Kitterman being Tennessee’s sole NEA fellow for 2014. His work was selected from among more than a thousand writers as deserving of the honor, which brings with it an award of $25,000.
“This is a formidable group of both emerging and well-established writers,” Amy Stolls, NEA acting director of literature, said. “They demonstrate an impressive range of styles and subject matter. We are proud to recommend each of them for an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship.”
The NEA’s fellowships are meant to encourage the production of new works of literature by providing writers with the time and financial support to write. Since 1990, 66 of the 109 recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA Literature Fellows.
Kitterman is the author of the 2008 novel, “The Baker’s Boy,” which won the Maria Thomas Peace Corps Writers Award for Fiction, and the 2011 story collection, “From the San Joaquin.” He is currently at work on his second novel.
“It’s a wonderful boost,” he said. “You look on that list of people who’ve received those grants over the years, and it’s all the people we read.”
Previous NEA fellowship recipients include such notable authors as Jeffrey Eugenides, Oscar Hijuelos, Alice Walker, William Kennedy and Bobbie Ann Mason.
Kitterman learned he’d won the award last month, when an NEA official contacted him with the good news. He was told not to discuss his selection until the NEA publicly announced all the winners in December.
“I needed to tell someone to make it real,” he said. “The first thing I wanted to do was tell my wife (Dr. Jill Eichhorn, APSU associate professor of languages and literature). Then I couldn’t wait until I got something in email from the NEA. I was worried I might be hallucinating.”
The NEA officially announced the winners on December 11th, proving that Kitterman had heard correctly. He plans to continue working on his novel while continuing to teach creative writing at APSU.
For more information, contact the Austin Peay State University Department of Languages and Literature at 931.221.7219.