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Announcing Our 2020 Emerging Writer Fellows

The Center for Fiction is thrilled to announce the nine exceptional recipients of its 2020 NYC Emerging Writer Fellowship. Raluca Albu, Rakin Azfar, Ian Denning, Grace Shuyi Liew, Ruth Mukwana, Claire Oleson, Camila Santos, Sasha von Oldershausen, and Rachel Wolff. Fellows receive a $5,000 grant, mentorship with a distinguished editor, and publication in the annual fellows anthology.

The fellows were selected from an impressive pool of 870 applicants in a blind judging process by writers Dana Czapnik (The Falconer), Erik Hoel (The Revelations, forthcoming), and Melissa Rivero (The Affairs of the Falcóns).

“We are extremely grateful to all our individual donors who have allowed us to continue a program that provides such critical assistance at a key point in an emerging writer’s career,” says Michael Roberts, The Center for Fiction’s Interim Executive Director.

The NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship, now in its tenth year, is open to all early-career writers residing within the five boroughs of New York City. The fellowship period begins in October 2020 and lasts for 12 months. Along with a $5,000 grant and studio space at The Center for Fiction’s physical location in downtown Brooklyn, the fellowship recipients work closely with an experienced editor to shape first books for submission, attend virtual group dinners with notable agents, editors, and published writers, and take part in two public readings. In addition, their fiction is included in an anthology that is distributed to agents and editors.

Meet Our 2020 Fellows

  • Raluca Albu 1

    Raluca Albu

    Raluca Albu

    Raluca Albu was born in Romania and raised in the Bronx. She currently serves as the deputy editor of Doctors Without Borders. After teaching social studies for nearly a decade, she pursued her MFA in creative writing at Columbia University and has held editorial positions at Guernica, BOMB, and NYU, where she teaches writing. Her work has been published in the Guardian, the Village Voice, Words without Borders and elsewhere. She is at work on a novel about an illegal abortion doctor who saved lives in communist Romania, told through a fictionalized secret police file and a queer American daughter’s childhood memories.

  • Rakin Azfar

    Rakin Azfar

    Rakin Azfar

    Rakin Azfar is a writer based in Brooklyn. He has contributed to the Village Voice and Paste magazine. He holds BAs in Philosophy and English from Ohio State University, and is currently at work on his first collection of short fiction.

  • Ian Denning

    Ian Denning

    Ian Denning

    Ian Denning’s short stories have appeared in Tin House’s Open Bar, the Guardian, Passages North, and elsewhere. He graduated from the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire, attended the 2018 Tin House Summer Workshop, and for many years tended bar at Hugo House, a literary non-profit in Seattle. He lives in Washington Heights with his wife, Lucy, and his dog, Special Agent Dale Cooper.

  • Grace Liew

    Grace Shuyi Liew

    Grace Shuyi Liew

    Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of Careen (Noemi Press, 2019), which has been named Electric Literature’s “14 Unmissable Poetry Books of 2019” and Entropy Magazine’s “Best Poetry Books of 2019.” Her poetry has appeared in West Branch, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her honors include 2020 Best of the Net, the Lucille Clifton Fellowship from Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts with US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, resident writer at Can Serrat in Barcelona, and more. Born and raised in Malaysia, she currently lives in Brooklyn, where she has taught at Brooklyn Poets, and sometimes runs a book club. She is writing a transcontinental novel.

  • Ruth Mukwana

    Ruth Mukwana

    Ruth Mukwana

    Ruth Mukwana is a fiction writer from Uganda. She is also an aid worker currently working for the United Nations in New York. She’s a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars (MFA) and an Associate Fiction Editor for Kweli Journal. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Solstice magazine, Black Warriors Review, Consequence magazine and The Compassion Anthology, Speak the Magazine, the Wrath Bearing Tree, and Water~Stone Review. She lives with her daughter in New York and co-produces a podcast and blog, Stories and Humanitarian Action that investigates how storytelling can raise awareness and galvanize action to address the causes and consequences of humanitarian crises.

  • Claire Oleson

    Claire Oleson

    Claire Oleson

    Claire Oleson is a queer writer and 2019 graduate of Kenyon College, where she studied English and Creative Writing. Her work has been published by the Kenyon Review online, the University of Kentucky’s graduate literary journal Limestone, the LA Review of Books, and Newfound Press, among others. She is the 2019 winner of the Newfound Prose Prize. Her chapbook, Things from the Creek Bed We Could Have Been, debuted May, 2020. Her undergraduate thesis was recently named a finalist for Cream City Review’s 2020 Summer Fiction Contest. She currently lives and works in NYC.

  • Camila Santos2

    Camila Santos

    Camila Santos

    Camila Santos’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Columbia Journal, Words Without Borders and Minola Review. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translations from Queens College and has been awarded residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts and Soaring Gardens. She grew up in Recife, Brazil and has lived in Queens since 2004. She is currently working on her first novel and a collection of short stories.

  • Sasha von Oldershausen

    Sasha von Oldershausen

    Sasha von Oldershausen

    Sasha von Oldershausen is an Iranian-American freelance reporter and writer, who is newly attempting fiction. In the past, her work has taken her to the Texas-Mexico border, where she worked for three years as a correspondent. She also frequently writes about the Iranian diaspora and Persian culture. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and a journalism degree from NYU. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, the Atlantic, the Paris Review, and the Oxford American.

  • Rachel Wolff

    Rachel Wolff

    Rachel Wolff

    Rachel Wolff is a writer, editor, podcast producer, and videomaker living and working in Brooklyn. She spent nearly a decade covering the contemporary art world as a journalist and critic with regular bylines in ARTnews, New York, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. As co-founder and creative director of SandenWolff, an arts-focused production company, she has written and produced video content and podcasts for major arts institutions including the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, Public Art Fund, Swiss Institute, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Rachel recently earned her MFA in fiction from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and is currently at work on her first novel.