/stories/2019/05/guggenheim-fellowship
Patricia Engel

The Best of the Best

Photo credit: Gesi Schilling
By Deserae E. del Campo

Photo credit: Gesi Schilling

The Best of the Best

By Deserae E. del Campo
Creative writing professor receives a Guggenheim Fellowship

From a group of almost 3,000 applicants, only 168 scholars, artists, and writers were awarded Guggenheim Fellowships by the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation this year—and chosen from this diverse group of scholars was University of Miami Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Patricia Engel.

“I was totally surprised to receive the fellowship. It was my second time applying, and I know that the fellowship is the type that writers spend years and years applying for and so few are selected. This is a great honor and I am privileged and grateful to receive it,” says Engel.

According to the website, the Guggenheim Fellowships are for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. The fellowships are awarded to citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.

Engel is the author of three fiction novels. Her most recent novel, The Veins of the Ocean, won the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year.

She is also the author of It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, which won the International Latino Book Award, and of Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award and the Young Lions Fiction Award; winner of a Florida Book Award, International Latino Book Award, and Independent Publisher Book Award, and named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Engel was the first woman to be awarded Colombia’s national prize in literature, the 2017 Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana.

In her application for the Guggenheim Fellowship, Engel proposed the premise of her newest project, a novel about a Colombian family that is fractured by immigration. Engel’s parents are from Colombia and she was born in the United States.

Now that she is a Guggenheim Fellow, Engel has decided to take a year off teaching to research her latest novel, which is possible through the grant dollars provided by the Foundation.

“I have decided to focus solely on my new book and take a year off from teaching because this is an opportunity that I cannot pass up,” she adds. Engel teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in the English Department’s Creative Writing Program.

Engel’s books have been translated into many languages, and she has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Hedgebrook, and the Key West Literary Seminar among others, and is the recipient of an O. Henry Award.