We are pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of the 2012 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. This year marks PEN’s 90th anniversary. For more than 50 of those years PEN’s Literary Awards program has honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature.

This year, PEN will present 18 awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes—including two awards offered for the first time ever: the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and first established in 2000, and the PEN/Steven Kroll Award for text in an illustrated picture book. With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer nearly $175,000 in 2012 to some of the most gifted writers and translators working today.

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000):

To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. Presented for the first time by PEN in 2012. Judges: Rosellen Brown, Margot Livesey, and Kathy Pories.

WINNER: Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000):

To a fiction writer whose debut work, published in 2011, represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. Judges: Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun.

WINNER: Vanessa Veselka, Zazen (Red Lemonade)

RUNNER-UP: Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press)


PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000):

To a writer whose body of work places him or her in the highest rank of American literature. Judges: Don DeLillo, Jennifer Egan, and George Saunders.

WINNER: E. L. Doctorow

Read excerpts from The Book of Daniel and Ragtime 


PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000):

For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2011. Judges: Elizabeth Kolbert, Charles Mann, and Dava Sobel.

WINNER: James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (Pantheon Books)

RUNNER-UP: Donovan Hohn, Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them (Viking Books)


PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Awards for an American Playwright in Mid-Career and a Master American Dramatist ($7,500):

A pair of awards, which honor a Master American Dramatist and an American Playwright in Mid-Career. Judges: Robert Brustein, John Lahr, and Stephen Wadsworth.

Master American Dramatist: Christopher Durang

Read excerpts from Why Torture is Wrong, And the People Who Love Them and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You

American Playwright in Mid-Career: Will Eno and Adam Rapp

Read excerpts from Middletown (Will Eno) and Through the Yellow Hour (Adam Rapp)


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($5,000):

For a book of essays published in 2011 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem of the essay form. Judges: Robert Boyers, Janet Malcolm, and Ruth Reichl.

WINNER: Christopher Hitchens, Arguably (Twelve)


André Aciman, Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Robert Gottlieb, Lives and Letters (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000):

For a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2011. Judges: Marshall Jon Fisher, Rob Fleder, and Mark Mulvoy.

WINNER: Dan Barry, Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game (Harper)


John Casey, Room for Improvement: Notes on a Dozen Lifelong Sports (Alfred A. Knopf)

Kostya Kennedy, 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Sports Illustrated Books)

Rob Ruck, Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game (Beacon Press)


PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000):

To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field. Judges: Shelby Coffey, Daniel Okrent, and Lesley Visser.

WINNER: Dan Jenkins

Read an excerpt from At the Majors


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000):

For a distinguished biography published in 2011. Judges: Blake Bailey, Daphne Merkin, and Honor Moore.

WINNER: Robert K. Massie, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Random House)

RUNNER-UP: Janny Scott, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother (Riverhead Books)


PEN Open Book Award ($5,000):

For an exceptional work of literature by an author of color published in 2011. Judges: Alexander Chee, Mat Johnson, and Natasha Trethewey.

WINNER: Siddhartha Deb, The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India (Faber & Faber)


Quan Barry, Water Puppets (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Helon Habila, Oil on Water (W.W. Norton & Company)


PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000):

To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress. Judges: Daniel Handler, Lyn Miller-Lachman, and Neal Shusterman.

WINNER: Sarah Dooley, Free Verse (forthcoming from G.P. Putnam’s Sons)


PEN/Steven Kroll Award Honoring the Author of an Illustrated Children’s Book ($5,000):

To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2011. Presented for the first time in 2012. Judges for the inaugural award: Carmen Agra Deedy, Susan Kuklin, and Vera B. Williams.

WINNER: Patricia C. McKissack, Never Forgotten (Schwartz & Wade Books)


PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000):

To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature. Judges: Dan Chiasson, Aracelis Girmay, and A. Van Jordan.

WINNER: Toi Derricotte

Read an excerpt fromThe Undertaker’s Daughter


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000):

For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2011. Judge: Christian Hawkey.

WINNER: Jen Hofer, Negro Marfil/Ivory Black by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press)


Mark Ford, New Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel (Princeton University Press)

Susanna Nied, Light, Grass, and Letter in April by Inger Christensen (New Directions)


PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000):

To the author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English. Judges: Nancy Festinger, Laura Healy, and Gregary Racz.

WINNER: Delfina Acosta, Versos de amor y de locura (Editorial Servilibro)


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000):

For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2011. Judges: Aron Aji, Donald Breckenridge, and Minna Proctor.

WINNER: Bill Johnston, Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski (Archipelago Books)


Sinan Antoon, In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books)

Margaret Jull Costa, The Land at the End of the World by António Lobo Antunes (W.W. Norton)


PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation:

To a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work. Selected by the PEN Translation Committee.

WINNER: Margaret Sayers Peden

Read an excerpt from Island Beneath the Sea


PEN Translation Fund Grants ($1,000-3,000):

To support the translation of book-length works into English. Judges: Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Edwin Frank, Michael F. Moore,* Michael Reynolds, Richard Sieburth, Eliot Weinberger, and Natasha Wimmer. (*Non-voting chair of the PEN Translation Fund Advisory Council.)

Bernard AdamsA hóhér háza (The Hangman’s House), a novel by Hungarian writer Andrea Tompa (from Hungarian)

Alexander Booth, im felderlatein (in field latin), a collection of poems by German poet Lutz Seiler (from German)

Brent Edwards, L’Afrique fantôme (Phantom Africa), an ethnographic study with autobiographic elements by the French writer Michel Leiris (from French)

Joshua Daniel Edwin, kummerang (gloomerang), the first book by young German poet Dagmara Kraus (from German)

Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Hoshruba: The Prisoner of Batin, an epic fantasy based on oral tradition by Indian writers Muhammad Husain Jah and Ahmed Husain Qamar (from Urdu)

Deborah GarfinkleWorm-Eaten Time: Poems from a Life Under Normalization, a collection of banned poems originally circulated in samizdat copies by Czech poet Pavel Šrut (from Czech)

Hillary Gulley, El fin de lo mismo (The End of the Same), a novel by Argentine writer Marcelo Cohen (from Spanish)

Bonnie Huie, Notes of a Crocodile, the groundbreaking queer novel by Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin (from Chinese)

Jacquelyn Pope, Hungerpots, a collection of poems by Dutch poet Hester Knibbe (from Dutch)

Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad, Mirages of the Mind, a novel by Pakistani writer Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi (from Urdu)

Carrie Reed, Youyang zazu (Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang), a compendium from the Tang Dynasty by Duan Chengshi (from Chinese)

Nathanaël, The Mausoleum of Lovers, French novelist and AIDS activists Hervé Guibert’s posthumously published collection of private journals (from French)

The Advisory Council is also pleased to announce that its nominee for a 2012 New York State Council on the Arts translation grant, Ana Božičević, was awarded a grant in January for her translation of It Was Easy to Set the Snow on Fire by Serbian poet Zvonko Karanović.

PEN will begin accepting submissions for 2013 Awards on October 1, 2012. For a list of all 2013 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit our literary awards homepage. For questions about any of the awards, write to awards@pen.org. For questions about winners or runners-up for the 2012 Awards, please contact Paul W. Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Awards, Membership, & Marketing, at: paul@pen.org.