Justin Torres, who's so gifted a writer that it's really unfair, is a 2009 recipient of the United States Artists award. This is a newish award -- I believe it's only the second year it's been given out -- that is funded, according to the website, by several foundations endowed by rich people. Well good. They stole every penny they have, and while handing it out as they choose to individuals they deem worthy isn't exactly the redistribution of wealth the world needs, I know it's a welcome boost to the artists chosen, and it does look like the panels that decide how to hand out this particular prize have a fairly decent approach. Here's this year's list of recipients.
As for Justin, who I've mentioned before on this blog, he's a terrifically talented fiction writer who's just about to burst onto the scene. Well, he's kind of in the process already of bursting onto the scene, as this award indicates. He's been publishing stories for a few years now, and his first book is coming soon, I hope. In a publishing world where such a thing is rare, the occasion when a writer like Justin gets his due recognition is heartening. A gay Latino, a son of the working class, someone who has struggled in life, someone whose writing expresses all this and more. I met Justin two years ago at the Lambda Literary Foundation's first LGBT writers' retreat. I'm very fond of him and although I've only seen him briefly once or twice since I feel as proud as if he were my own younger brother. Oy, such naches!