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The 2015 MacArthur ‘Genius Grants’ Honor — and Surprise — 24 Fellows

Journalist and memoirist Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Antoine Doyen/AP Images for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
Journalist and memoirist Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Antoine Doyen/AP Images for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

(The Washington Post) – It’s fair to say that both Ta-Nehisi Coates and Lin-Manuel Miranda were already having a pretty impressive 2015. Coates, a journalist lauded for his insights into race, politics and culture, launched his memoir, “Between the World and Me,” straight to the bestseller lists. Miranda, already a Tony-winning composer, wrote and stars in the season’s hottest ticket on Broadway, the genre-crossing musical “Hamilton.”

Their year just got better. Coates and Miranda are among the 24 people awarded MacArthur Foundation fellowships on Tuesday. The so-called genius grants are an annual vote of confidence given to some of America’s best and brightest scientists, writers, artists, academics and entrepreneurs. And the big check that comes with the fellowship doesn’t hurt, either.

The calls to recipients went out in early September from mysterious numbers, catching the new class of fellows off guard. For Miranda, the big reveal came on an ordinary day at home with his son.

“I had just broken up with a cable provider the day before, which is the best thing in the world,” he said. So when a call came in from a strange number, he sent it to voice mail.

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