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Announcing the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists

PEN America is thrilled to announce the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists! 

Our Awards are juried by panels of esteemed writers, editors, translators, and critics. You can learn more about this year’s judges here.

This year’s Literary Awards will confer over $330,000 to writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2019. Spanning fiction, poetry, essay, science writing, translation, and more, these Finalist titles are dynamic, diverse, and thought-provoking examples of literary excellence. 

The winners will be announced live at the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 2 at the Town Hall in New York City and hosted by Seth Meyers. You can purchase your tickets here.  

PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD ($75,000)

For a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.

Judges: Marilyn Chin, Garth Greenwell, Rebecca Makkai, Michael Schaub, and William T. Vollmann

The Undying, Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
IndieBound | Hudson

Deaf Republic, Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Where Reasons End, Yiyun Li (Random House)
IndieBound | Hudson

The World Doesn’t Require You, Rion Amilcar Scott (Liveright)
IndieBound | Hudson

Rusty Brown, Chris Ware (Pantheon Graphic Library)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE FOR DEBUT SHORT STORY COLLECTION ($25,000)

To an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work.

Judges: Aimee Bender, Jamel Brinkley, Samantha Hunt, Randa Jarrar, Elissa Schappell

The Trojan War Museum, Ayşe Papatya Bucak (W.W. Norton & Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

Sabrina & Corina, Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World)
IndieBound | Hudson

Last of Her Name, Mimi Lok (Kaya Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Home Remedies, Xuan Juliana Wang (Hogarth)
IndieBound | Hudson

Lot, Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FOR DEBUT NOVEL ($25,000)

To a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.

Judges: R.O. Kwon, Terese Marie Mailhot, David L. Ulin

Stay and Fight, Madeline ffitch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
IndieBound | Hudson

99 Nights in Logar, Jamil Jan Kochai (Viking)
IndieBound | Hudson

Big Familia, Tomas Moniz (Acre Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

The Travelers, Regina Porter (Hogarth)
IndieBound | Hudson

A Prayer for Travelers, Ruchika Tomar (Riverhead Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN OPEN BOOK AWARD ($5,000)

To an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color.

Judges: Ali Eteraz, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Dawn Lundy Martin, Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Camille Rankine, Héctor Tobar

Build Yourself a Boat, Camonghne Felix (Haymarket Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

Be Recorder, Carmen Giménez Smith (Graywolf Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Erou, Maya Phillips (Four Way Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

We Cast a Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World)
IndieBound | Hudson

The Grave on the Wall, Brandon Shimoda (City Lights Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

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

Judges: Sean Gasper Bye, Jim Hicks, Geoffrey C. Howes, Sara Khalili, Elizabeth Lowe, Jenny McPhee

If You Cross the River: A Novel, Geneviève Damas (Milkweed Editions)
Translated from the French by Jody Gladding
IndieBound | Hudson

The Ten Loves of Nishino, Hiromi Kawakami (Europa Editions)
Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell
IndieBound | Hudson

Beyond Babylon, Igiaba Scego (Two Lines Press)
Translated from the Italian by Aaron Robertson
IndieBound | Hudson

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel, Olga Tokarczuk (Riverhead Books)
Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
IndieBound | Hudson

The Scent of Buenos Aires: Stories, Hebe Uhart (Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Maureen Shaughnessy
IndieBound | Hudson

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

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

Judges: Michael Eskin, Forrest Gander, Pierre Joris

Final Matters: Selected Poems, 2004-2010, Szilárd Borbély (Princeton University Press)
Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
IndieBound | Hudson

Room in Rome, Jorge Eduardo Eielson (Cardboard House Press)
Translated from the Spanish by David Shook
IndieBound | Hudson

Daybook 1918: Early Fragments, J.V. Foix (Northwestern University Press)
Translated from the Catalan by Lawrence Venuti
IndieBound | Hudson

Killing Plato, Chantal Maillard (New Directions Publishing)
Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert
IndieBound | Hudson

The Winter Garden Photograph, Reina María Rodríguez (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Translated from the Spanish by Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Gates Madsen
IndieBound | Hudson

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

For a collection of essays which exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Judges: Jelani Cobb, Daniel Menaker, Judith Thurman

I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz, Eve Babitz (New York Review Books Classics)
IndieBound | Hudson

Resurrection of the Wild: Meditations on Ohio’s Natural Landscape, Deborah Fleming (Kent State University Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays, Leslie Jamison (Little, Brown and Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution, Emily Nussbaum (Random House)
IndieBound | Hudson

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino (Random House)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WELD AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHY ($5,000)

For a distinguished biography of exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.

Judges: David W. Blight, Yunte Huang, Miriam Pawel, Rebecca Walker, Shawn Wen

Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas, Stephen Budiansky (W. W. Norton & Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (W. W. Norton & Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures, Adina Hoffman (Yale University Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Sontag: Her Life and Work, Benjamin Moser (Ecco)
IndieBoundHudson

Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution, Helen Zia (Ballantine Books)
IndieBound | Hudson

PEN/E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD ($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.

Judges: Diane Ackerman, Rivka Galchen, Priyamvada Natarajan

Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition, Patricia S. Churchland (W. W. Norton & Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves, Frans de Waal (W. W. Norton & Company)
IndieBound | Hudson

On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galapagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden, Elizabeth Hennessy (Yale University Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, Dahr Jamail (New Press)
IndieBound | Hudson

Losing Earth: A Recent History, Nathaniel Rich (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
IndieBound | Hudson

 


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