“You have probably received a certain letter from the Guggenheim Society to which I have applied for a grant (my financial position is becoming disastrous),” Vladimir Nabokov wrote to Edmund Wilson in November 1942. “I made a (rather silly, I’m afraid) synopsis or description of the novel I am working at (“The Person From Porlock”). I gave you as reference.” Despite moments of doubt (“I have no news from Guggenheim—and little hope”), VN would receive the first of two Guggenheim fellowships the following March. In its eight-decade history, the Guggenheim Foundation has given over $230 million in grants to over 15,000 individuals; 85 fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. An impressive cohort from among the writing awardees will be on hand for this anniversary reading: Joyce Carol Oates, Karen Finley, Jhumpa Lahiri, Grace Paley, Billy Collins, Chang-rae Lee, Eric Bogosian, Galway Kinnell, Shirley Hazzard, Jamaica Kincaid, Jonathan Ames, Oscar Hijuelos, Edmund White, and 19 others.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2005