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2019 PEN America Literary Awards Winners: Nomination Awards

headshots of the 2019 Career Lifetime Achievement Honorees

In addition to PEN America’s book awards, which celebrate the best books published in a given year, PEN America also honors the outstanding careers and lifetime contributions to the world of literature and drama of our era, as well as the promise of emerging talents. In 2019 we honor achievement in international literature, editing, literary sports writing, and drama, and literary promise in poetry. Note: The following awards are by nomination only, and there are no finalists.

Honorees will be celebrated at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26, 2019, in NYC. Purchase tickets >>


Sandra Cisneros

PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature
The award will be conferred annually to a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.
JUDGES: Alexander Chee, Edwidge Danticat, Valeria Luiselli

From the judges: “Sandra Cisneros has said that she writes because ‘the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.’ In a formidable and awe-inspiring body of work, which includes fiction, memoir, and poetry, Cisneros brings us astounding and lyrical voices from burning, maligned, devastated, as well as reassembled houses, and nations. It’s hard to imagine navigating our world today without her stories and her voice guiding us towards needed much reclamation and endurance.”

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Larissa FastHorse

PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award 
To a playwright working at the highest level of achievement in mid-career. 
JUDGES: Craig Lucas, Jacob G. Padron, Condola Rashad

From the judges: “One of the remarkable things about Larissa FastHorse’s work includes her prolific output—17 plays in a little over a decade—as well as the range of her tales in contrasting tones and affect. Her abiding theme appears to be the making of modern families, bridging divergent communities, histories, languages, cultures. . . . FastHorse educates, tweaks, embraces, outrages and dances, sometimes all in a single scene. . . . She deserves to be much more widely known.”

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Alexandra Watson, Apogee Journal

PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing
To a magazine editor whose high literary standards and taste have, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits.
JUDGES: Mark Doten, Kima Jones, Daniel A. Olivas

For Watson’s high literary stewardship as the editor of Apogee, a journal of literature and art, foregrounding writers of color and engaging with issues of race, gender, and class, including Apogee‘s “Alternate Canon” series.

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Jackie MacMullan

Jackie "Mac" MacMullan

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing 
To a living sports writer for their literary merit and dedication to sports writing with keen knowledge, insight, and a literary voice. 
JUDGES: Chris Bachelder, Rafi Kohan, Carvell Wallace

For the high literary quality of her sportswriting, her exemplary use of the oral history form, and her body of work including Basketball: A Love Story (2018), When the Game Was Ours (2013; with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson), Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection (2006), and her many years as a newspaper sportswriter and NBA columnist. She is the first female sportswriter to win the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing.

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Jonah Mixon-Webster

PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry
To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.
JUDGES: Daniel Borzutzky, Ilya Kaminsky, Airea D. Matthews 

For the high literary character of his debut collection, Stereo(TYPE), which explores the intersection of space and body, race and region, and sexuality and class; and wrestles with the ongoing crisis in Flint, MI.

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Attend the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26, 2019