Toni Morrison

The PEN/Saul Bellow Award goes to a living American author whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.

From the Judges’ Citation

“The works of Chloe Anthony Wofford, better known as Toni Morrison, have changed the landscape of American fiction. Revelatory, intelligent, bold, her fiction is invested in the black experience, in black lives, and in black consciousness, material from which she has forged a singular American aesthetic.

Toni Morrison not only opened doors to others when she began to publish, she has also stayed grounded in the issues of her time. At every turn, she has commented upon and enlarged the conversation about what it is to be black, female, human, universal. Her brilliant and bracing fiction continues to address what is crucial, timely and timeless.

For her enduring command of her art, the judges take great pleasure in awarding Toni Morrison the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize for American Fiction 2016.”

2016 Judges

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, received the National Book Critics Circle Award; more recently, The Plague Of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Round House won the National Book Award. Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore. Her new novel, LaRose, will be publishing in Spring 2016. Erdrich was the 2014 winner of the PEN/Saul Bellow Award.

Dinaw Mengestu came to the U.S. with his family from Ethiopia at the age of two. He has published three novels, all of them New York Times Notable Books, including his most recent, All Our Names. A 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Mengestu also earned a 2007 National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Award and was included on The New Yorker’s “20 under 40” list in 2010. Also a freelance journalist who has reported from sub-Saharan Africa about life in Darfur, northern Uganda, and eastern Congo, Mengestu has had his work published in Harper’s, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.

Past Winners

Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow, and Louise Erdrich.

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