PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.

The PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction honors a debut novel or book of short stories of exceptional merit published in 2017 by an American author who has not previously published a full-length book of fiction. One winner will be selected by a panel of three esteemed writers. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize intended to allow significant time and resources with which to pursue a subsequent work of fiction.  

In addition to a $25,000 prize, the winner receives a one-week residency and honorarium from the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at the University of Idaho’s MFA Creative Writing Program. All competition honorees receive Residency Fellowships at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.

Previous winners include Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (2017); Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (2016); Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Elegy on Kinderklavier (2015 ); NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (2014).

The award is funded by the Hemingway Family, Hemingway Foundation and Society, and PEN America. 

Learn more about the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction»

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN America’s award seal, please write to [email protected].



Submissions for the 2018 awards will be accepted from October 4, 2017 through December 8, 2017. 


  • The candidate’s first (and only the first) novel or first collection of short fiction must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. Publishers may submit galleys or bound manuscripts for consideration if the book is not yet published.
  • Candidates must be U.S. residents; American citizenship is not required.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work as long as it is fiction.

NOT Eligible:

  • Self-published books are not eligible.


Submission guidelines

  • PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. One need not be a Member of PEN America to submit. Authors may not submit their own book for this award. 
  • Please download the Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please upload this document along with the rest of your application. 
  • Each submission is $75*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.  
  • Once you have completed the online submission form, mail one copy of the candidate’s book to the address below between October 4 and December 8, 2017. Please note that we also accept galleys and bound manuscripts.

    PEN/Hemingway Award
    PEN America
    588 Broadway, Suite 303
    New York, NY 10012

  • Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, you will be contacted by [email protected] before the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $3 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’ annual net sales are less than $3 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2018 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.