Jean Guerrero for “Crux” (Available for Publication)

The PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize is an annual award that recognizes a promising young writer of an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

From the Judges’ Citation

In “Crux,” Jean Guerrero uses her exhaustive research into her paternal familial history to craft a passionate and riveting memoir that stretches the notion of “crossing borders.” Where many migration memoirs focus on national and cultural borders, Guerrero—born to a Mexican father and Puerto Rican mother—treats those elements as almost implicit, broadening the exploration to include borders between sanity and insanity; traditional gender roles and untraditional ones; formal education and life experience; reality/science and spirituality/magic/fiction/imagination; health and sickness; nurturing and abandonment; prosperity and poverty; and much more. Throughout “Crux,” Guerrero searches to better understand what made her troubled father who he is, ultimately being forced to come to terms with the fact that he “was a man I’d never known.” By honoring the profound complexities of the human spirit and psyche, Guerrero shows us how any discussion of crossing borders might be enriched by expanding beyond the concepts of nation and culture.”


Victoria Blanco for “Visions of Oasis”
Laurel Fantauzzo for “Archipelago Sleepovers”
Jaclyn Moyer for “The Girl Outside My Window”

2016 Judges

Marie Arana is the author of five books, among them her memoir American Chica, which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award and winner of Books for a Better Life; The Writing Life, a collection of essays; and two highly acclaimed novels Cellophane and Lima Nights. Her biography of Simón Bolívar was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2014. Since 2010, she has been a writer at large for the Washington Post and a senior advisor to the U.S. Librarian of Congress.


Manuel Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! He teaches creative writing for the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, and for the Institute of American Indian Arts, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Johnny Temple is the publisher and editor in chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company. He won the 2013 Ellery Queen Award and is the editor of the anthology USA Noir, which was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice. He has taught courses on the publishing business at Wilkes University, Wesleyan University, and Pratt Institute; and is the Chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which organizes the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. He also plays bass guitar in the band Girls Against Boys, which has toured extensively across the globe and released numerous albums. He has contributed articles and political essays to various publications, including The Nation, Publishers Weekly, AlterNet, and Poets & Writers.

Past Winners

Adriana E. Ramírez for Dead Boys

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