Rona Jaffe Award to Workshop Alumna Aamina Ahmad
Fiction writer and Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna (M.F.A., 2013) Aamina Ahmad will receive a 2017 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, which is given annually to six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers. Celebrating its 23rd year, the Rona Jaffe Awards have helped many women build successful writing careers by offering encouragement and financial support at a critical time. The Awards are $30,000 each and will be presented to the six recipients on September 14th in New York City.
Aamina Ahmad’s novel in progress, The Walled City, is set primarily in 1960s Pakistan within the ancient walled city of Lahore, where a police detective is investigating the suspicious death of a prostitute. Part crime novel and part family saga, at its heart it is “a story of relationships, about the roles of men and women in Pakistani society and the binds that family, industry, marriage, and political institutions impose on ordinary people.” Her nominator writes, “Depth of characterization, the great attraction of her stories, turns revelatory at novel-length: its source is a spectacularly undeluded empathy. A brave, disciplined, and unconventional mind is at work.”
Ms. Ahmad is also working on a collection of stories. Her work has appeared in Ecotone, The Missouri Review, and The Normal School, among other publications. She has received notable mentions in the Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading anthologies. Raised in England, she received her B.A. and M.A. from London University. She also studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received her M.F.A. in 2013. She completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University in 2017.
Celebrated novelist Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $2 million to emergent women writers, including several who have gone on to critical acclaim, such as Elif Batuman, Eula Biss, Lan Samantha Chang, Vievee Francis, Rivka Galchen, ZZ Packer, Helen Phillips, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Solmaz Sharif, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Szybist, and Tiphanie Yanique.