VQR makes the majors
The National Magazine Awards, called the “Ellies,” are the Oscars of the magazine world — the industry’s highest honor. Year after year, power-houses like The New Yorker, Time, Harper’s, Rolling Stone and National Geographic take home most of the trophies. Occasionally a literary journal may receive a single nomination for fiction or poetry, but this year, The Virginia Quarterly Review received six, second only to The Atlantic and ahead of all the other usual big names.
For a small magazine to receive six nominations is unprecedented. 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. “It was as if a scrappy farm team had demolished the Yankees in an exhibition game,” commented Meghan O’Rourke for Slate.com.
Think of this as a call-up to the big leagues after having burned up the minors for a couple of seasons. In the past 18 months VQR has racked up one honor after another, in the wake of a total revamp by editor Ted Genoways (MFA, Creative Writing ’99) when he became editor in 2003.
Genoways has landed an impressive cadre of big-name writers for VQR, the type of marquee names that attract new readers. He has described his appeals to literary stars such as Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon and Cormac McCarthy as “a combination of begging and arm twisting.” Stephen B. Cushman, professor of English and one of VQR’s board of advisory editors, puts it this way: “He is fearless in going after the big name. He is respectful and conscientious, and he lands the big contributors.”