2016 PEN Literary Awards Shortlists

PEN is thrilled to announce today the shortlists for the 2016 PEN Literary Awards. Since our announcement of the longlists, our diligent and discerning judges for our eight book awards have narrowed their choices down to their top five books. Spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essays, translation, and more, this year's awards will confer over $200,000 to some of the best writers and translators working today.

The winners for all 2016 awards will be announced on March 1, with the exception of those for Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, and Literary Science Writing awards, as well as the PEN Open Book and the PEN/Fusion Prize, which will be named live at the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on April 11 at The New School in NYC.


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2015—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

JUDGES: Helon Habila, Elizabeth McCracken, Edie Meidav, and Jess Row


In the Country: Stories
Mia Alvar
Alfred A. Knopf
Read an excerpt »

The Turner House
Angela Flournoy
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Read an excerpt »

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Julie Iromuanya
Coffee House Press
Read an excerpt »

The Sympathizer: A Novel
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Press
Read an excerpt »

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
Jennifer Tseng
Europa Editions
Read an excerpt »


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2015 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

JUDGES: Verlyn Klinkenborg, Meghan O’Rourke, and Luc Sante


After the Tall Timber: Collected Non-Fiction 
Renata Adler
New York Review Books
Read an excerpt »

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Read an excerpt »

The Quarry
Susan Howe
New Directions
Read an excerpt »

The Givenness of Things: Essays
Marilynne Robinson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Read an excerpt »

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
David L. Ulin
University of California Press
Read an excerpt »


PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2015.

JUDGES: Joshua Foer, Virginia Hughes, and Sonia Shah


Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett
The Crown Publishing 
Read an excerpt »

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World
Joel K. Bourne Jr.
W. W. Norton & Company
Read an excerpt »

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star
Tom Clynes
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Read an excerpt »

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future
Lauren Redniss
Random House
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Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World
Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe
Pegasus Books
Read an excerpt »


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2015.

JUDGES: David Epstein, Ann Killion, and Dave Zirin


Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson
Kent Babb
Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba
Brin-Jonathan Butler
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball's Lost Triumph
Scott Ellsworth
Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group
Amazon | Indie Bound

Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty
Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan
Simon & Schuster 
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Grind: Inside Baseball's Endless Season
Barry Svrluga
Blue Rider Press
Amazon | Indie Bound 

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2015.

JUDGES: Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Celeste Ng, and Héctor Tobar


Rick Barot
Sarabande Books
Read an excerpt »

Bastards of the Reagan Era
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Four Way Books
Read an excerpt »

Forest Primeval: Poems
Vievee Francis
Triquarterly Books/Northwestern
Read an excerpt »

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey
Marie Mutsuki Mockett
W. W. Norton & Company
Read an excerpt »

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Savoy
Read an excerpt »


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2015.

JUDGES: Nell Irvin Painter, Deborah Solomon, and Simon Winchester


The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects
Deborah Lutz
W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon | Indie Bound

Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art
Nancy Princenthal
Thames & Hudson
Amazon | Indie Bound

John le Carré: The Biography
Adam Sisman
Harper Books
Amazon | Indie Bound

Michelle Obama: A Life
Peter Slevin
Alfred A. Knopf
Amazon | Indie Bound

Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Rosemary Sullivan
Harper Books
Amazon | Indie Bound


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2015.

JUDGES:  Elisabeth Jaquette, Aviya Kushner, Ronald Meyer, Sara Nović, and Jeffrey Zuckerman


The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector
Translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson
New Directions
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin
Translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Amazon | Indie Bound

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Translated from the Russian by Oliver Ready
Penguin Classics
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov
Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
Open Letter Books
Amazon | Indie Bound

Hollow Heart by Viola Di Grado
Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar
Europa Editions
Amazon | Indie Bound


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2015.

JUDGE: Urayoán Noel


The School of Solitude: Collected Poems by Luis Hernández
Translated from the Spanish by Anthony Geist
Swan Isle Press
Amazon | Indie Bound

The Late Poems of Wang An-shih
Translated from the Chinese by David Hinton
New Directions
Amazon | Indie Bound

Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas
Translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan
Phoneme Media
Amazon | Indie Bound

I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky
Translated from the Russian by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev
Cleveland State University Poetry Center

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa
Translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu
Canarium Books
Amazon | Indie Bound


PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000): To a distinguished living American author of fiction.

JUDGES: Louise Erdrich, Dinaw Mengestu, and Francine Prose


PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000): To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books.

JUDGES: Laila Lalami, Kathy Pories, and Brando Skyhorse


PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize ($10,000): For a promising young writer under the age of 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

JUDGES: Marie Arana, Manuel Gonzales, and Johnny Temple


PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright.

JUDGES: Annie Baker, Kirsten Greenidge, and Tracy Letts


PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.

JUDGES: Catherine Barnett, Jericho Brown, and Tina Chang


PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): For an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

JUDGES: Emily Arnold McCully, Katherine Paterson, and Jason Reynolds


PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

JUDGES: Senator William W. Bradley, Sally Jenkins, and Dave Kindred


PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English.

JUDGES: Ezra E. Fitz, Amalia Gladhart, and Mark Weiss


PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English.

JUDGES: Esther Allen, Peter Blackstock, Sara Khalili, Tynan Kogane, Allison Markin Powell, Antonio Romani, Chip Rossetti, and Alex Zucker

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