The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) today announced the slate of finalists for the 41st annual National Magazine Awards (known as “The Ellies”) and the Virginia Quarterly Review garnered six nominations, an unprecedented number for a magazine its size. VQR received more nominations than such perennial powerhouses as The New Yorker, Harper’s, GQ, Esquire, Time, and Rolling Stone. The only magazine to receive more nominations than VQR was The Atlantic Monthly with eight.
“We’re honored and humbled by the wealth of nominations,” said VQR Editor Ted Genoways. “The awards are judged by magazine editors nationwide, many of whom may have been unfamiliar with VQR. Yet they read our work objectively and found that we compare favorably with much larger and more commercial magazines. It’s a testament to our writers and to the hard work of our entire staff.”
For a small magazine to receive six nominations is unheard of. The other six magazines with five or more nominations have circulations ranging from 250,000 to over 2 million, staffs of dozens, and multimillion-dollar annual budgets. By comparison, VQR’s circulation is 6,000; its staff is just four full-time employees; and it is supported by the University of Virginia. “We couldn’t be less like some of our competitors,” Genoways said, “but I hope we’ve shown that great writing is flourishing here.”
Last year, VQR received two nominations (for General Excellence for Magazines with circulations under 100,000 and for Fiction), which was considered a feat, as only twenty magazines nationally received multiple nominations. At that time, the nominating committee wrote, “VQR has been catapulted into the twenty-first century with a stunning new design, edgy graphic features, and in-depth reporting from around the world—all of it augmenting, not replacing, its literary core.” VQR has continued to build on that success. “We’re especially gratified to be recognized in every phase of our work–nonfiction, fiction, reviews, general excellence, which includes consideration of editing and design,” said Genoways. “We aim for excellence in every phase of what we do.”
VQR’s nominations included:
• The General Excellence category which recognizes overall excellence in magazines and honors the effectiveness with which writing, reporting, editing and design all come together to command readers’ attention and fulfill the magazine’s unique editorial mission. Also named as finalists in the Under 100,000 Circulation category are Aperture, The Believer, Legal Affairs, and ReadyMade.
• Two nominations in the Fiction category (given to groups of three short stories):
- “Peacekeeper” by Alan Heathcock, “Smother” by Joyce Carol Oates, “Ina Grove” by R.T. Smith (all published in the Fall issue).
- “So Help Me God” by Joyce Carol Oates (Winter issue), “The Guggenheim Lovers” by Isabel Allende (Summer issue) and “The Ghosts We Love” by Brock Clarke (Summer issue).
The other magazines nominated in Fiction are The Atlantic Monthly, McSweeney’s, and Zoetrope.
• Two nominations in the Essay category:
- “Dead Enough?: The Paradox of Brain Death” by Pauline W. Chen (Fall issue).
- “The Wagon” by Martin Preib (Summer issue).
Harper’s also received two nominations in this category and Vanity Fair received one.
• In Reviews & Criticism, two essays by Sven Birkerts, “Humboldt’s Gift” (Summer issue) and “A Weekend at Montauk” (Winter issue). The other magazines nominated in the category are The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Harper’s, and New York magazine.
The winners will be announced on May 9 in a ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. More information can be found at the ASME’s website.