Assistant English Professor Manuel Munoz hopes that the current economic climate will lead people to novels. “Reading a good book is a calm solitude that few other activities offer."
Munoz is the author of two books – Zigzagger, a collection of short stories published in 2003 and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, published in 2007. And now, he is the winner of the prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award for creative writing given to writers who show “extraordinary talent and promise” early in their careers. One of 10 in the country to receive the $50,000 award, Munoz says the award “was essentially a stretched arm to me."
When he received the phone call from the New York-based organization, he knew immediately what it meant. “The foundation has such a prestige and reputation. It meant that there were people out there who were paying attention to my work – people I hadn’t anticipated reading my work.”
“It’s for those who, just at that point in their career, may not have received a whole lot of attention, but this is the foundation’s way of telling the rest of the literary world to recognize them,” Munoz said.
This is not his first writing award. Munoz was named a 2008 Fellow in Fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
His work has appeared in numerous publication including the New York Times, Rush Hour, Swink, Epoch, Glimmer Train, Edinburgh Review and Boston Review and has aired on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. A native of Dinuba, California, Munoz graduated from Harvard University and received his MFA in creative writing at Cornell University.
This is his first year at the UA and his first academic position. “I absolutely love teaching. The intellectual engagement is something the real world doesn’t always offer. To be here and to produce work that the university views as valuable, I feel very privileged. I want to help students solidify their unwavering love of books and teach them to take risks.”