Utne Reader has selected VQR as the winner of the top prize in their 2009 Independent Press Awards, the General Excellence award. They were kind enough to write this glowing citation:
In 2008 every issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review found its way into our thoughts, our discussions, our issue-planning sessions, and, in the case of the salient, heartbreaking story of a soldier returning from Iraq, “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce,” onto our pages. VQR’s stories are deeply reported, exquisitely written, and elegantly edited—the sort of articles that make readers want to become writers. The magazine’s graceful design and sumptuous photographs bring the stories and voices to life.
The mere fact that VQR provides space for these tales, some of which stretch to 20 pages, sets it apart. Long-form narrative journalism is all but extinct these days, yet VQR has claimed the genre as its mantle. The Summer 2008 issue, “No Way Home: Outsiders and Outcasts,” hosts thoughtful essays on the people, places, and stories we miss in an ever shorter and faster news cycle, including J. Malcolm Garcia’s stunning profile of Jena, Louisiana, a place that fell off the radar once the mainstream media’s short-lived Jena 6 hysteria had subsided; David Enders’ piece on Iraq’s Palestinian refugees, an already-marginalized population before the war; and Natasha Trethewey’s meditative return to her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina.
Virginia Quarterly Review gets our general excellence award because we know that intelligent, curious people are starving for these stories, longing for this brand of storytelling. And no one is doing it with more heart or soul.
We were up against Bidoun, Bitch, High Country News, Meatpaper, The Nation, New Statesman, and Orion, all of which were plucked from among 1,500 publications. We were also nominated for the International Coverage and Best Writing awards, which were won by, respectively, England’s New Statesman and Canada’s The Walrus. We’re grateful to Utne, the dozens of writers whose work composed our 2008 issues, and, of course, our readers.