So you think you’re a genius?
Perhaps you are. But only 24 people woke up this morning with the official stamp of the “genius award,” the annual fellowships awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
This year’s honorees include essayist and best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, 39, whose recent book, “Between the World and Me,” is one of the most talked-about works on race relations in some time; Lin-Manuel Miranda, 35, whose new musical “Hamilton” opened to raves on Broadway; and Beth Stevens, 45, a neuroscientist studying neuron communication in the brain.
“These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” MacArthur President Julia Stasch said in a statement. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”
The complete list of 2015 honorees can be found on the MacArthur website.
The MacArthur Fellowships come with $625,000 over five years, no strings attached, and are awarded to people “who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the Foundation’s website.
Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, told the Boston Globe that he received notice of his win a few weeks ago. He received a mysterious phone call from someone asking whether he was “able to have a confidential conversation,” to which Desmond responded, logically, “Who’s this?”
When he was told exactly who it was, he still wasn’t sure the caller was on the level.
“I immediately didn’t think it was real,” he told the Globe. “Then someone reads you what they wrote about you.”
Coates said he was still processing the honor.
“I wished I could be cool,” Coates told The New York Times. “But you just can’t be cool.”
Previous fellowship winners include writer Cormac McCarthy, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, drummer Max Roach, journalist Katherine Boo, choreographer Bill T. Jones and author David Foster Wallace.