The Moral of the Story: If You Haven’t Changed Your First Name to “Jonathan” by Now, You Should Consider It

A hearty congratulations to Jonathan Lethem, who won a MacArthur Genius Grant this year. Lethem, beyond being a standout correspondent, is also an adventurous stylist and one of the few novelists working today who has written successfully across multiple genres. If you haven’t yet read the gritty The Fortress of Solitude or his futuristic take on Chandler, Gun, with Occasional Music, get thee to a bookstore and sup.

[UPDATE: Matt Cheney argues that while Lethem is deserving, “this choice continues the unfortunate trend of the MacArthur award often going to writers who have already found a lot of success.”]


  1. Doesn’t the achievement of success at least partially imply the quality of genius? (“Genius” not strictly meaning capable of creating great art, that is–James Patterson and Stephen King are also geniuses, but of the marketing/promotion/give-the-people-what-they-want variety.) If so, giving a genius grant to a successful writer like Lethem seems appropriate.

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