2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
Sergio De La Pava, A Naked Singularity (University of Chicago Press)
The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The winner is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs.
Tom Drury, Danielle Evans, and Donald Ray Pollock
From The Judges’ Citation
In exact and energetic prose, A Naked Singularity can swerve from a blistering and precise portrait of the U.S criminal justice system to a lingering description of the proper preparation and consumption of empanadas. Sergio De La Pava’s gift with language is tremendous, and much of the triumph of this book is in its command of a range of human voices: from the book’s breathless first chapter on, the reader knows to trust De La Pava not just for how well he captures speech, but for what he’s willing to hear. The willingness of this book to directly confront the question of justice and to explore the implicit absurdities and hypocrisies of our contemporary understanding of what it means to do justice, make it both ambitious and critically important. Its ability to confront that question while being hilarious, smart, and fully invested in the humanity of all of its characters also make it a tremendous pleasure. It is with great joy that the judges award this year’s PEN/Bingham prize to Sergio De La Pava.
A Land More Kind Than Home (William Morrow), Wiley Cash
A Naked Singularity (University of Chicago Press), Sergio de la Pava
My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), Jac Jemc
Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain (W.W. Norton & Co.), Lucia Perillo
Battleborn (Riverhead Books), Claire Vaye Watkins
Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Monique Truong, Will Heinrich, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin, Dalia Sofer, Donald Ray Pollock, Paul Harding, Danielle Evans, and Susanna Daniel, and Vanessa Veselka