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PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000)

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose work—a first novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise of a second work of literary fiction. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 cash prize intended to permit the winner significant time and resources with which to pursue a subsequent work of fiction.

One PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize winner will be selected by a panel of three to four writers or editors who are PEN Members. The recipient is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs advancing literature, free expression, and the worldwide PEN community of writers. 

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize was established in memory of Robert W. Bingham, who died in 1999 at the age of 33, to commemorate his support of young writers, his love of literature, and his contribution to literary fiction.

Past winners: Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Will Heinrich, Monique Truong, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin, Dalia Sofer, Donald Ray Pollock, Paul Harding, Danielle Evans, Susanna Daniel, Vanessa Veselka, Sergio De La Pava, Shawn Vestal and Jack Livings. 

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2016 Awards

Submissions closed on August 15, 2015. This award will be offered again during the 2017 PEN Awrds cycle, for which submissions will open in mid-2016.

Who is eligible

  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
  • One need not be a Member of PEN to submit
  • To be eligible, a candidate’s first (and only the first) novel or first collection of short fiction must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
  • Candidates must be U.S. residents; American citizenship is not required.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work. 
  • Self-published books are not eligible. 

If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN American Center awards. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner and PEN/Hemingway Awards are not considered PEN American Center awards. 

How to apply

1. Please download the award's Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book's eligibility. If eligible, please mail this form along with one copy of the book to PEN's office (see step 3).

2. Complete awards online submission form. As submisssions are now closed, the form has been deactivated. Each submission is $50*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Be sure to print your receipt. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.  

3. Mail one copy of the candidate's book to the address below during the open submission period. Please note that we also accept galleys.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

4. Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] before the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our four awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press' annual net sales are less than $4 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2016 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.