English professor Justin Torres receives 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship

Published: April 17, 2024
Justin Torres portraitJustin Torres (Portrait: JJ Geiger; Composite: Trever Ducote/UCLA)

Sean Brenner | April 17, 2024

Justin Torres, a UCLA associate professor of English, has been named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2024.

The prestigious fellowships, presented by the John Solomon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, carry cash awards of varying amounts and are intended to recognize artists, scholars, writers and creative professionals both for their achievements to date and for their exceptional promise. Torres was one of 188 fellows chosen from among almost 3,000 applicants.

Torres, a member of the UCLA faculty since 2015, is a novelist, short story writer and occasional essayist. His second novel, “Blackouts,” won the National Book Award in November 2023, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and is currently a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the California Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award.

His debut novel, “We the Animals,” published in 2011 when he was just 31, caused a literary sensation. Narrated by a young boy of mixed heritage who is finding his way amid family struggles and a budding queer identity, the book received the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, became a bestseller and was adapted into an award-winning film.

Torres plans to use funds from his grant to support the writing of his next novel, which considers the role of triadic relations in structuring life. He said the work will draw from fairy tales, sociology, psychology and philosophy.

“I’m really grateful for the award and honored to be added to the list of fellows, which includes so many writers I admire,” he said. Noting that 12 years elapsed between the publication dates of his first two novels, he added that the fellowship support could “significantly shorten that gap” before his third is completed.

The 2024 Guggenheim Fellows represent 52 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields from 38 states and the District of Columbia, as well as four Canadian provinces. The fellowship program was established in 1925 by Senator Simon Guggenheim.