Martha Heasley Cox Recieving Tower Award

Martha Heasley Cox receiving San José State University's "Tower Award" from President Robert Caret in 2006 for her generosity in supporting many causes, including the Steinbeck Fellows Program.

The Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University was endowed through the generosity of Martha Heasley Cox. It offers new writers of any age and background a $10,000 fellowship to finish a significant writing project. Named in honor of author John Steinbeck, the program is guided by his lifetime of work in literature, the media, and environmental activism.

Fellowships are currently offered in Creative Writing (excluding poetry) and Steinbeck Studies. Fellows may be appointed in many fields, including literary scholarship, fiction, drama, education, science and the media.

While in residence in the San José area, Fellows are afforded office space and, when needed, housing assistance through the Center for Steinbeck Studies and the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Application Information.

This Year's Steinbeck Fellows:

Cara BaylesCara Bayles holds a BA in English and Film Studies from Wesleyan University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Her fiction has appeared in Meridian (University of Virginia), Trop, and the anthology Watching the Cash Roll in Since 2012. She traveled to India on a Leslie Epstein Global Fellowship in Fiction, and she was a finalist for the 2013 New Orleans Tennessee Williams Festival Prize in Fiction. She is an award-winning reporter who has covered the streets of Boston and the bayous of southern Louisiana. Her journalism has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Houma Courier, the Thibodaux Daily Comet, and Beer Advocate magazine. She will spend her year as a Steinbeck Fellow completing her novel.

Yalitza Ferreras

Yalitza Ferreras received a BA in English and a BA in Political, Legal, and Economic Analysis from Mills College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a winner of the University of Michigan’s Nicholas Delbanco Thesis Prize and a fellowship from the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She has an essay in Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education and a short story in Daring to Write: Contemporary Narratives by Dominican Women. She was raised in New York and the Dominican Republic, and currently resides in San Francisco where she is at work on a novel and a collection of short stories.


Reese Okyong Kwon

Reese Okyong Kwon has published in Ploughshares, the Believer, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and elsewhere. A recipient of scholarships from Yaddo, Ledig House, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, she has been named one of Narrative’s “30 Below 30” writers. She is working on a novel.

Other Steinbeck Fellow News:  

  • November 2014: 2013-2014 Fellow Vanessa Hua won the San Francisco Foundation's 2014 James D. Phelan Award for the manuscript Loaves and Fishes. Read an interview with Vanessa about the award.
  • December 2013: 2005-2006 Fellow Sarah Houghteling received a 2014 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • 2001-2002 Fellow Katie Rodger published Renaissance Man of Cannery Row: The Life and Letters of Edward F. Ricketts (2002) and Breaking Through: Essays, Journals, and Travelogues of Edward F. Ricketts (2006).
  • 2002-2003 Fellow Robert F. James is finishing the Outdoor Life Magazine Survival Manual (sched. 2012). He is Project Editor for this and for another book for Field & Stream magazine coming out in 2013.
  • 2002-2003 Fellow Greta Manville's work on updating, researching, and compiling an online searchable bibliography of secondary literature on John Steinbeck was completed in 2007, resulting in a unique resource for an American author:
  • 2004-2005 Fellow Diana Spechler, published Who By Fire (Harper Perennial 2008) and Skinny, (Harper Perennial 2011).
  • 2007-2008 Fellow Dan White, published The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind--And Almost Found Myself--On the Pacific Trail (Harper Perennial 2008).
  • 2005-2006 Fellow Sara Houghteling, published Pictures at an Exhibition (Knopf, 2009), reviewed in the New York Times. On April 15, 2010, the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford presented Houghteling with the 2009 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her novel. Other Wallant Award winners include Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Chaim Potok and Myla Goldberg.
  • 2006-2007 Fellow Charles McLeod was selected to receive a 2009 Pushcart Prize and his story "National Treasures" has been selected to appear in the anthology Fraudulent Artifacts (Norton 2012). Random House UK published his novel, American Weather (2011).
  • 2007-2008 Fellow Lysley Tenorio received a 2008 Whiting Award, a $50,000 cash prize announced November 2008 at a ceremony at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.  Tenorio was also selected to appear in the 2010 edition of Best New American Voices.
  • 2007-2008 Fellow Peter Nathaniel Malae published in 2007 a notable book story collection Teach the Free Man, and a novel What We Are (Grove 2010), as well as Nine True Love Stories (scheduled 2011 with Grove). What We Are was reviewed in the New York Times.  Malae gave a public reading at SJSU on April 21, 2010.
  • 2008-2009 Fellow Jasmin Darznik has published with Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) The Good Daughter, her memoir of Iran, (2010), reviewed in the New York Times.
  • 2009-2010 Fellow Katie Chase was selected to receive a 2009 Pushcart Prize.
  • 2009-2010 Fellow Skip Horack’s short story collection, The Southern Cross, won the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2008 Bakeless Fiction Prize and was published by Mariner Books in August 2009. His second novel is The Eden Hunter (2010).
  • 2009-2010 Fellow Andrew Milward was selected to appear in the 2010 edition of Best New American Voices.