Writer Grace Talusan named one of 16 Brother Thomas fellows

Talusan’s memoir ‘The Body Papers’ won numerous recognitions including the Massachusetts Book Awards in nonfiction. Photo: Alonso Nichols

The Boston Foundation and Pucker Gallery has announced that 16 Boston-area artists have been named the 2021 class of Brother Thomas Fellows, bringing the total number of recipients to 72 and the total funds distributed to $1,080,000 since the program’s inception in 2009.

Artists in this class, the largest in the history of the Fellowship program, will each receive a $15,000 unrestricted grant from the Brother Thomas Fund at the Boston Foundation. Fellowships— given without stipulation as to how the funds are spent—match the needs of artists as well as the wishes of the donor who wanted to help other artists as his friends had helped him.

One of the fellows is Grace Talusan, a Philippine-born writer, teacher and author of the memoir The Body Papers. The book won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, the Massachusetts Book Awards in nonfiction, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection. Her short story, “The Book of Life and Death,” was translated into several languages, including Filipino, for the Boston Book Festival’s One City One Story program. Currently, she is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University, where she teaches creative writing and is working on her first novel.

Talusan was raised in New England. She graduated from Tufts University and the MFA Program in Writing at UC Irvine. She is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines and an Artist Fellowship Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  

The Brother Thomas Fund was established at the Boston Foundation to honor the legacy of Brother Thomas Bezanson, a Benedictine monk and world-renowned ceramic artist, who wanted the sale of his work to support artists at critical junctures in their careers. The 16 artists, each of whom has established their place in the artistic spectrum, were nominated by a committee of artistic leaders, including past Fellows.

“Every two years, the Boston Foundation has the opportunity to recognize the creative works of a diverse range of artists with the Brother Thomas Fellowships. This group is no exception – a talented cohort of artists whose interests range from the written, spoken, and musical to mixed media and ceramics,” said Lee Pelton, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “But while their chosen media varies widely, they share a passion for their work and a track record of creative success worthy of the Brother Thomas Fellowship.”

The 2021 Fellows are notable for their talent and diversity – 15 of the 16 fellows identify as people of color. They comprise a mix of literary, performance, and craft artistic media, and range widely in age and career arc.

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