P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Sanjena Sathian, 2017

Pronunciation: SUN-jun-ah

MFA, University of Iowa

Sanjena Sathian is the child of immigrants from India

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Creative Writing at University of Iowa

Sanjena Sathian was raised in Georgia by South Indian immigrant parents. The granddaughter and great-granddaughter of respected Malayalee translators, she always hoped to become a writer. When she wasn't scribbling stories, she spent many hours competing as a policy debater, eventually winning the national championship as a senior.

Sanjena earned a BA in English from Yale University, where she studied literary journalism and fiction. She received multiple grants to report from three continents. She was awarded the English Department’s highest honors for each of her two senior theses: one on the novels of Zadie Smith, the other a series of linked short stories.

After school, Sanjena worked as a reporter covering technology and Silicon Valley culture in San Francisco before moving to Mumbai to become a foreign correspondent.

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships supported her as she earned an MFA in fiction writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 

Her award winning short fiction appears in Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review. She’s written nonfiction for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Food and Wine, The Boston Globe, The Juggernaut, The Millions, OZY, and more. Her first novel, GOLD DIGGERS, will be published by Penguin Press in April 2021.

  • Sanjena Sathian GIF
  • MFA Creative Writing | University of Iowa 2019
  • BA English Literature, Creative Writing (Literary Fiction) | Yale University 2013
  • Finalist, South Asian Journalists' Association, Outstanding Work By a Journalist in North America, 2017
  • Finalist, South Asian Journalists' Association, Best Arts & Culture Reporting, 2017
  • Clarion Writers' Workshop for the top 18 emerging Science Fiction/Fantasy writers
  • Yale College's Elmore A. Willets Prize for Excellence in Fiction Writing
  • Yale College's John Hubbard Curtis Prize for Excellence in English
  • Kingsley Trust Fellowship
  • Winner of the Tournament of Champions and the Baker Award
Select Publications
  • "Dream City and the Imagined 'We': Modern Publics in Zadie Smith's London," Columbia Journal of Literary Studies
Work History
  • OZY Media, Asia Editor/Correspondent | January 2015 - December 2017
  • OZY Media, Deputy Editor | January 2013 - December 2015
  • The Boston Globe, Health Reporter | January 2013 - December 2013
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