The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is given to a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. The winner receives a $50,000 prize.

From the Judges’ Citation

“Through the force of his language, boldness of his innovation, and depth of his feeling, Ali Ahmad Said Esber, known as ‘Adonis,’ has helped make Arabic, one of the world’s oldest poetic languages, vibrant and urgent. A visionary who has profound respect for the past, Adonis has articulated his cherished themes of identity, memory and exile in achingly beautiful verse, while his work as critic and translator makes him a living bridge between cultures. His great body of work is a reminder that any meaningful definition of literature in the 21st century must include contemporary Arabic poetry. For his pioneering work in balancing tradition and modernity through his powerful poetry, the judges take great pleasure in awarding the 2016 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature to Ali Ahmad Said Esber.”


Ayad Akhtar is a playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. His plays have won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2013 and 2015 OBIE Awards, the Outer Critic’s Circle John Gassner Award, and been nominated for the TONY and Evening Standard Awards. Akhtar serves as a Board Trustee at PEN America, Yaddo, and NYTW and is currently the Resident Playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and attended Columbia and Oxford universities. He is the author of Selection Day, the Booker Prize-winning novel The White Tiger, and the story collection Between the Assassinations. He lives in Mumbai, India. (Photo credit Fernando Morales)


Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (2015), the winner of National Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition, and VIDA. She was a finalist for the International War Poetry Prize, the National Rita Dove Prize, and semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize and the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Prize.

Jessica Hagedorn is the author of four novels: Toxicology, Dream Jungle, The Gangster Of Love, and Dogeaters, which won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Other books include Danger And Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, and Burning Heart: A Portrait Of The Philippines. She was the editor of both volumes of Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction, and Manila Noir, a crime fiction anthology. Her many plays include the stage adaptations of Dogeaters and The Gangster Of Love.

Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found and The Story Hour. She is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. A former journalist, she is a recipient of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard and is currently the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. (Photo credit Robert Muller)


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