2017 PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION
Rion Amilcar Scott for Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky)
The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction.
From the Judges’ Citation
Rion Amilcar Scott’s debut story collection, Insurrections, introduces a necessary voice in American literature. His collection has a fictional setting, but the black residents of Cross River— and their struggles — feel unrelentingly real. Scott’s prose — thickly textured with colloquialisms and dialect — delivers truth with straight-faced aplomb. These are hard, humane stories, free of grandstanding yet full of grace, that loom in the mind long after reading. We were better off for having read Insurrections, and we are delighted to award Rion Amilcar Scott the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.
Jami Attenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels, including The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie. She has contributed essays about sex, urban life, and food to publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Lenny Letter. Her sixth book, All Grown Up, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2017.
Tanwi Nandini Islam is the author of Bright Lines, a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. She is a writer, multimedia artist, and founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a handcrafted perfume and skincare line. Her writing has appeared on Elle.com, Fashionista.com, and Billboard.com, and in the Feminist Wire, Open City, and Hyphen magazine. A graduate of Vassar College and Brooklyn College’s MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn. You can visit her website at www.tanwinandini.com. (Photo credit Scott Dunn)
Randall Kenan is the author of a novel, A Visitation of Spirits, two works of nonfiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, and The Fire This Time, and a collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead. He edited and wrote the introduction for The Cross of Redemption: The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin and The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Whiting Writers’ Award, the North Carolina Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize. He is professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Hanna Pylväinen is the author of We Sinners, a novel, which received the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times, and the New York Times Magazine. She is the recipient of residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Princeton University, among others. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University, and is working on her second novel, Drum Time.
Akhil Sharma is the author of Family Life (winner of the 2016 Dublin International Literary Prize and the 2015 Folio Prize) and An Obedient Father (winner of the PEN Hemingway Prize). His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and been anthologized in Best American Short Stories. (Photo credit Jack Llewellyn-Karski)
Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Will Heinrich, Monique Truong, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin, Dalia Sofer, Donald Ray Pollock, Paul Harding, Danielle Evans, Susanna Daniel, Vanessa Veselka, Sergio De La Pava, Shawn Vestal, and Mia Alvar.
Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.