Alison Bechdel, author of the 2006 graphic memoir "Fun Home," was named one of 21 MacArthur Foundation fellows. Each recipient of what's commonly called a "genius grant" gets a $625,000 stipend, paid over five years, with no strings attached.

Bechdel's "Fun Home" was adapted for the stage by playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori. The musical, a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist, enjoyed a critically-acclaimed off-Broadway run and now heads to Broadway.

The memoir recounts Bechdel's childhood and young adult family experiences, focusing on her relationship with her father, a closeted gay man. It generated controversy, especially in South Carolina.

Selected by the College of Charleston as its 2013-14 recommended reading for students, faculty and staff, the decision caused a political backlash. Some officials objected to what they called pornography and the S.C. House budget-writing committee sought to penalize the college by withdrawing $52,000, the amount of state funding associated with The College Reads! program.

Another genius grant recipient this year is poet Terrance Hayes, a Columbia native.

Hayes, 42, is a graduate of Coker College. He has published several books of poetry whose themes include race, gender and family. Currently, he is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

TO learn about all the 2014 grant recipients, go to

MacArthur Fellows are selected because they "how exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future," according to the foundation. "The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements."