May 18, 2009 — The Virginia Quarterly Review, founded at the University of Virginia more than 80 years ago, received the 2009 Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence in a ceremony Sunday in Denver.
In presenting the award, the editors of Utne said, "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, La., 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, Miss., 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."
VQR also earned nominations in the International Coverage and Best Writing categories. Other winners included The Walrus, Lapham's Quarterly, Mother Jones, The New Republic and the New Statesman. A complete list of winners can be found here.
Recognizing excellence in independent publishing worldwide, Utne Reader honors the efforts of small, sometimes unnoticed publications that provide innovative, thought-provoking perspectives often ignored or overlooked by mass media, and are chosen from over 1,500 publications by the editors of Utne Reader through extensive reading and careful examination.
VQR was founded at the University of Virginia in 1925. Over the years it has published the work of such luminaries as H.L. Mencken, Bertrand Russell, Katherine Anne Porter, D.H. Lawrence, Robert Penn Warren and Marianne Moore. Recent issues have featured essays, stories, poems and art by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rita Dove, Cormac McCarthy, Adrienne Rich and Art Spiegelman, among others.