Founded in 2016, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is an annual award which recognizes a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence. A distinguished panel of judges will nominate candidates internally and without submissions from the public. The author of the winning book receives a prize of $75,000 and is honored at the annual PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.


Winner of the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award 

From the judges’ citation: “Layli Long Soldier’s ambitious Whereas is a grand reckoning with both language and history. As citizen, as mother, as poet, she asks with profound tenderness What man [or woman] is expendable? then leads the journey towards a consciousness of song as tough-minded inquiry and reclaimed territory. An elegant and fierce introspection defines this volume of poetry, as does a rectifying spirit of restless invention. The deep wound in the American psyche is genocide; and here, Long Soldier skillfully disrupts easy abridgments that render that inheritance a simple matter of an official Apology. Whereas is also about motherhood, being an artist, and the political valence of writing and loving. Its intriguing architecture propels us into the naturalness of interrogating the structures of language and power and creating a covenant with the self. We admire her artfulness as much as her depth, grace, sense of purpose, and essential imagination.”

LAYLI LONG SOLDIER holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She has served as a contributing editor of Drunken Boat. Her poems have appeared in The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, and other publications. She is the recipient of the 2015 NACF National Artist Fellowship, a 2015 Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a 2016 Whiting Award. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.