Stephanie Keuhn for The Pragmatist (Forthcoming from Dutton/ Penguin Books)

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, established in 2001, provides a writer with a measure of financial sustenance in order to make possible an extended period of time to complete a book-length work-in-progress. The fellowship is supported by an endowment fund established by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and confers a prize of $5,000 on the honoree.

From the Judges’ Citation

Surprising and provocative, The Pragmatist by Stephanie Kuehn raises questions we didn’t realize we’d been wondering. Its precision of language and thoughtfulness are hallmarks of great literature for any age. This is a tale of a lost adolescent, and just how far he’ll go to be “found.” Arman, seventeen and with severe ADHD, is desperate to feel he’s someone, not the “zero-impact” nobody he thinks he is. He’s willing to lie, steal, and run away from his Santa Cruz home to cure himself from his self-doubt. Joining a cult-like group at the invitation of Beau, a self-styled guru who professes to teach candidates how to evolve themselves into a state of enlightenment, Arman finds himself cast into a bizarre world, encountering a multitude of surprising threats, obstacles and tensions. The Pragmatist, with an engaging main character, precise, vivid writing, and a continuous rushing train of tensions, is a captivating thriller.”

2015 Judges

Viola Canales graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, served as a captain in the U.S. Army, was a community organizer for the United Farm Workers, practiced law, held a presidential-level appointment in the Clinton Administration, worked with chief executive officers, but never stopped writing stories to conjure up the magical world of her barrio. She published a short story collection, Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales and a novel, The Tequila Worm which won the 2006 Pura Belpré Award. She also published El Gusano de Tequila—her Spanish translation of the novel—and a bilingual book of poems The Little Devil & The Rose (El Diablito y La Rosa).

 Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author. Melt, her latest teen novel, has been hailed as “a fresh, emotionally complex bildungsroman of young American love” by Kirkus. Her nonfiction children’s books are known for their humanity. Revolutionary Friends, about George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, will soon be joined by Revolutionary Rogues, about Benedict Arnold. A contributing author to UncommonYA, Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons.

Elizabeth Levy is the award-winning author of over 100 books for children and young adults. She is known for the humor that she brings to the emotional life of her characters. Levy has presented writing workshops around the world from Dubai to New Delhi to New Jersey. For a full list of her books go to


Past winners

Graham McNamee, Lori Aurelia Williams, Franny Billingsley, Deborah Wiles, Amanda Jenkins, Barbara Shoup, Diane Les Becquets, Theresa Nelson, Carol Lynch Williams, Pat Schmatz, Lucy Frank, Sarah Dooley, Amy Goldman Koss, and Linda Oatman High.

Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.