PEN America is thrilled to announce the winners for the 2016 PEN Literary Awards, spanning fiction, drama, sports writing, biography, translation, poetry, and more. This year’s full roster of awards will confer over $200,000 to writers and translators.

All winners were honored at the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on April 11 at The New School in New York City.


PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000): To a distinguished living American author of fiction.

JUDGES: Louise Erdrich, Dinaw Mengestu, and Francine Prose

WINNER: Toni Morrison




PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2015—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise of a second work of literary fiction.

JUDGES: Helon Habila, Elizabeth McCracken, Edie Meidav, and Jess Row


In the Country: Stories
Mia Alvar
Alfred A. Knopf
Read an excerpt »


PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000): To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice.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.

JUDGES: Laila Lalami, Kathy Pories, and Brando Skyhorse

WINNER: Lisa Ko for “The Leavers” (Forthcoming from Algonquin Books)



PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2015 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

JUDGES: Verlyn Klinkenborg, Meghan O’Rourke, and Luc Sante


Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Read an excerpt »


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 2015.

JUDGES: Joshua Foer, Virginia Hughes, and Sonia Shah


Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future
Lauren Redniss
Random House
Read an excerpt »


PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize ($10,000): For a promising young writer under the age of 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

JUDGES: Marie Arana, Manuel Gonzales, and Johnny Temple

Jean Guerrero for “Crux”



PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright.

JUDGES: Annie Baker, Kirsten Greenidge, and Tracy Letts

Master American Dramatist (to receive a specially commissioned art object):
WINNER: Lynn Nottage


American Playwright in Mid-Career ($7,500):
WINNER: Young Jean Lee



Emerging American Playwright ($2,500):
WINNER: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins


PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2015.

JUDGES: Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Celeste Ng, and Héctor Tobar


Rick Barot
Sarabande Books
Read an excerpt »


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2015.

JUDGES: David Epstein, Ann Killion, and Dave Zirin


The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph
Scott Ellsworth
Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group
Read an excerpt »


PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

JUDGES: Senator William W. Bradley, Sally Jenkins, and Dave Kindred

WINNER: John Schulian



PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2015.

JUDGES: Nell Irvin Painter, Deborah Solomon, and Simon Winchester


Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art
Nancy Princenthal
Thames & Hudson
Read an excerpt »


PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): For an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

JUDGES: Emily Arnold McCully, Katherine Paterson, and Jason Reynolds

WINNER: Ash Parsons for “A Chemical Distance” (Available for publication)



PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.

JUDGES: Catherine Barnett, Jericho Brown, and Tina Chang

WINNER: Ed Roberson



PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2015.

JUDGES:  Elisabeth Jaquette, Aviya Kushner, Ronald Meyer, Sara Nović, and Jeffrey Zuckerman


The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector
Translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson
New Directions
Read an excerpt »


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2015.

JUDGE: Urayoán Noel


The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa
Translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu
Canarium Books
Read an excerpt »


PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English.

JUDGES: Ezra E. Fitz, Amalia Gladhart, and Mark Weiss

WINNER: Nathalia María Echauri Castagnino
Doce Lunas Llenas: Poesias sobre la Divina Energia Femenina



PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English.

JUDGES: Esther Allen, Peter Blackstock, Sara Khalili, Tynan Kogane, Allison Markin Powell, Antonio Romani, Chip Rossetti, and Alex Zucker

Recipients will be announced later this spring