Two Haverford Alumni Named Guggenheim Fellows
Nicholson Baker ’79 and Anya Krugovoy Silver ’90 were honored with a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support their independent writing projects.
When the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the names of the 173 scholars, artists, and scientists chosen as 2018 Guggenheim Fellows in April, two Haverford alumni were on the prestigious list.
Given Haverford’s relatively small alumni body, the fact that two Fords made the cut, selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants, definitely goes against the odds. Also against the odds: Both are writers.
Named as Guggenheim Fellows, who are chosen on the basis of “prior achievement and exceptional promise,” were Nicholson Baker ’79 and Anya Krugovoy Silver ’90, who will each receive a cash grant aimed at allowing recipients “blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible.”
Nicholson Baker is the author of 10 novels including Vox, a bestseller about phone sex; the sci-fantasy The Fermata; and House of Holes, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He also has published several works of nonfiction, including Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper; Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization; and, most recently, Substitute, a look at public education whose research involved Baker signing on as a substitute teacher in his local school district.
Reached at his home in Maine, where he lives with his wife, Margaret Brentano BMC ’82, Baker said of the Guggenheim honor: “I’m thrilled, I’m befuddled, I’m beaming. It’s made me want to really get down to work. Very kind people on the committee have said they believe in me—I can’t let them down.”
As for what the Guggenheim grant will allow him to do, he said, “For nine years on and off I’ve been working on a book about old government secrets—this fellowship gives me time to finish. Whew.”
Silver, a professor of English at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., is a poet who has published four collections of her work, including From Nothing, I Watched You Disappear, The Ninety-Third Name of God, and, most recently, Second Bloom. “The Guggenheim is a tremendous honor because the judges are writers whom I have always admired and looked up to, who have been models and artistic mentors to me,” said Silver, who lives in Macon with her husband and son.
"The fellowship gives me the greatest possible gift: time,” she said. “I will use it to take off a semester of teaching and work on my fifth collection of poetry. It’s extremely difficult to write while teaching full-time and also undergoing very intensive medical treatment for metastatic cancer. The time to write, and especially the time to experiment with my writing, is a luxury and a blessing.”