Jonathan Franzen

10 emerging writers receive $50,000 Whiting Awards

Ten emerging writers, a mix of poets, dramatists and fiction and nonfiction authors, were the winners of this year's $50,000 Whiting Awards on Wednesday night.

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison was scheduled to speak at the ceremony in Manhattan, but could not attend because of a snowstorm that pounded much of the Northeast.

In prepared remarks, read by prize-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander and shared with The Associated Press by Whiting officials, Morrison noted that as a descendent of slaves she knew well "the struggle to be allowed to learn to read."

"Reading became a hallowed practice in my family," Morrison explained. "With a background of...