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Announcing the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists

Book covers of the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists

 

PEN America is thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards. Our awards are juried by panels of esteemed, award-winning writers, editors, booksellers, and critics. Learn about the PEN America Literary Awards judges here.

This year’s awards will confer more than $370,000 to writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2018. Spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essays, science writing, sports writing, translation, and more, these shortlisted books are bound to help fill your 2019 TBR.

Thanks to our partnership with Hudson Booksellers, we are pleased to offer a 25 percent discount on all PEN America Literary Award finalist and semi-finalist titles on HudsonBooksellers.com. Code: PEN19

Stay tuned for further announcements about winners of the following awards: PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature, PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry, PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, PEN/Pels Theater Award, PEN/Magid Award for Excellence in Editing, PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 

The winners will be celebrated at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26 at the NYU Skirball Center in NYC. 

 

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000)

For a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books)
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The Carrying: Poems, Ada Limón (Milkweed Editions)
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Citizen Illegal, José Olivarez (Haymarket Books)
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The Overstory: A Novel, Richard Powers (W. W. Norton & Company)
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Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover (Random House)
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JUDGES: Jennifer Clement, Matthew Desmond, Natalie G Diaz, Brenda Shaughnessy, Charles Yu

2019 Finalists for the PEN/Jean Stein award

 

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection ($25,000)

To an author whose debut collection of short stories published in 2018 represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

White Dancing Elephants, Chaya Bhuvaneswar (Dzanc Books)
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A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)
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Some Trick, Helen DeWitt (New Directions)
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Half Gods, Akil Kumarasamy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
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Bring Out the Dog, Will Mackin (Random House)
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JUDGES: Chris Abani, Frances Hwang, Gary Lutz

2019 Finalists for the PEN/Bingham award

PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel

For an exceptional debut novel published in 2018.

Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi (Grove Press)
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The Driest Season, Meghan Kenny (W. W. Norton & Company)
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Severance, Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
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There There, Tommy Orange (Alfred A. Knopf)
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Cherry, Nico Walker (Alfred A. Knopf)
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JUDGES: Dinaw Mengestu, Cristina García, Scott Simon

2019 PEN/Hemingway finalists

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000)

To an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States in 2018.

Cape Verdean Blues, Shauna Barbosa (University of Pittsburgh Press)
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How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays, Tyrese Coleman (Mason Jar Press)
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Teeth Never Sleep, Ángel García (University of Arkansas Press)
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Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Atria)
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Eye Level, Jenny Xie (Graywolf Press)
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JUDGES: Hanif Abdurraqib, Cristina Arreola, Richie Narvaez, Kevin Nguyen, Elissa Washuta, Sunil Yapa

2019 Finalists for the PEN/Open Book award

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2018.

Nevada Days, Bernardo Atxaga (Graywolf Press)
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
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Disoriental, Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions)
Translated from the French by Tina Kover
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The Stone Building and Other Places, Aslı Erdoğan (City Lights)
Translated from the Turkish by Sevinç Türkkan
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Love, Hanne Ørstavik (Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken
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Trick, Domenico Starnone (Europa Editions)
Translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri
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JUDGES: Ezra Fitz, Barbara Harshav, Vincent Kling, Marian Schwartz, Ron Slate

2019 Finalists for the PEN Translation Prize

PEN AWARD FOR POETRY IN TRANSLATION ($3,000)

For a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English published in 2018.

The Shutters, Ahmed Bouanani (New Directions)
Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
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Aperture, Jacek Dehnel (Zephyr Press)
Translated from the Polish by Karen Kovacik
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Today, Juan Gelman (co•im•press)
Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Rose Bradford
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Negative Space, Luljeta Lleshanaku (New Directions)
Translated from the Albanian by Ani Gjika
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A Certain Plume, Henri Michaux (NYRB)
Translated from the French by Richard Sieburth
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JUDGES: Sinan Antoon, Ewa Chrusciel, Peter Filkins, Katrine Øgaard Jensen

2019 Finalists for the PEN Poetry In Translation Prize

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000)

For a book of essays published in 2018 that exemplifies the essay form.

We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, Jabari Asim (Picador)
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How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
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Impossible Owls, Brian Phillips (FSG Originals)
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Feel Free, Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)
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Against Memoir, Michelle Tea (Feminist Press)
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JUDGES: Garrard Conley, Paul Reyes, Aisha Sabatini Sloan

2019 Finalists for the PEN/Diamonstein Award

PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography ($5,000)

For a distinguished biography published in 2018.

Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World, Andrea Barnet (Ecco)
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Neruda: The Poet’s Calling, Mark Eisner (Ecco)
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Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown, Lauren Hilgers (Crown Publishing)
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Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, Imani Perry (Beacon Press)
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Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly, Joshua Rivkin (Melville House)
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JUDGES: Nell Irvin Painter, Sam Stephenson, Rachel Syme

2019 Finalists for the PEN/Bograd Weld award

PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION ($10,000)

To honor a distinguished book of general nonfiction published in 2017 or 2018.

One Person, No Vote, Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury Publishing)
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American Prison, Shane Bauer (Penguin Press)
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Amity and Prosperity, Eliza Griswold (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)
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The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq, Dunya Mikhail (New Directions Publishing)
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In a Day’s Work, Bernice Yeung (The New Press)
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JUDGES: Nana-Ama Danquah, McKenzie Funk, Syreeta McFadden, Christina Sharpe, Linda Villarosa

PEN/E.O. WILSON PRIZE FOR LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING ($10,000)

For a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.

The World in a Grain, Vince Beiser (Riverhead)
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The Beginning of Everything, Andrea Buchanan (Pegasus Books)
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Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, Ben Goldfarb (Chelsea Green)
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Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds, Lauren Slater (Little, Brown and Company)
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She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Carl Zimmer (Dutton Books)
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JUDGES: Arianne Shahvisi, Jeff VanderMeer, Christie Wilcox

2019 Finalists for the PEN/E.O. Wilson award

PEN/ESPN AWARD FOR LITERARY SPORTS WRITING ($5,000)

To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2018.

The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, Howard Bryant (Beacon Press)
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The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created, Jane Leavy (Harper)
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The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey, Rowan Ricardo Phillips (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
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Limits of the Known, David Roberts (W. W. Norton)
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Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City, Albert Samaha (Public Affairs)
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JUDGES: Chris Bachelder, Rafi Kohan, Carvell Wallace

2019 Finalists for the PEN/ESPN award

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