PEN America Literary Awards

Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored outstanding voices in translation, fiction, poetry, science writing, essay, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, and drama. With the help of our partners, PEN America confers over 20 distinct awards, fellowships, grants and prizes each year, awarding nearly $350,000 to writers and translators.

Nominations for the PEN/Osterweil Prize for Poetry, PEN/Magid Award for Editing, PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, and PEN/ESPN Award  for Lifetime Achievement in Literary Sports Writing are open to PEN America Members. Become a member today.

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For information on our supportive grants for works-in-progress and fellowships, including the PEN/Heim Translation Grants, click here.

2019 PEN America Literary Awards

Please see individual awards below for submission and nomination guidelines or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.


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PEN/Jean Stein Award for Book of the Year ($75,000)

For a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact. Previous winners include Layli Long Soldier’s WHEREAS (2018) and Hisham Matar’s The Return (2017). SUBMISSIONS NOT ACCEPTED FOR THIS AWARD. Learn more >>

PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature ($50,000)

For achievement in international literature, multi-genre. Previous winners include Edna O’Brien (2018) and Adonis (2017). NOMINATIONS NOT ACCEPTED FOR THIS AWARD. Learn more >>

PEN Open Book ($5,000)

For an exceptional book-length work of any genre by a writer of color. Previous winners include Alexis Okeowo’s A Moonless, Starless Sky (2018) and Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN/Magid Award for Magazine Editing ($2,500)

Honoring a magazine editor whose high literary standards and taste have, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits. Candidates for this biennial award include current editors-in-chief, literary editors, and “back-of-the-book” editors of serious general interest magazines, book reviews, or literary reviews and quarterlies, whose intellectual discernment and wide range of interests recall the late PEN member Nora Magid. Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Nominations

PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel ($25,000)

For an exceptional debut novel. Previous winners include Weike Wang’s Chemistry (2018) and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

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

For an exceptional debut short story collection. Previous winners include Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart (2018) and Rion Amilcar Scott’s Insurrections (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction ($25,000 plus publication and advance)

For an exceptional unpublished manuscript of socially engaged fiction. Previous winners include Lisa Ko’s The Leavers (2016) and Ron Childress’s And West Is West (2014). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers ($2,000)

For an exceptional short story published in 2018. Winners are published in an annual anthology by Catapult. Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000)

Recognizing the high literary character of the published work to date of a new and emerging American poet of any age and the promise of further literary achievement. Poets nominated for the award may not have published more than one book of poetry. Previous winners include Natalie Scenters-Zapico and Saeed Jones. Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Nominations


NONFICTION (back to top ↑)

PEN/Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000)

For a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues and that has been published in the United States in 2017-2018. Previous winners include Mathew Desmond’s Evicted (2017) and Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial (2015)  Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

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

For an exemplary book of individual essays, exploring one specific theme or a range of subjects, published in 2018. Previous winners include Ursula K LeGuin ‘s No Time to Spare (2018) and Angela Morales’s The Girls in My Town (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

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

For a work that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience. Previous winners include Lindsey Fitzharris’s The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine (2018) and Luke Dittrich’s Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

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

For a biography of exceptional literary, narrative and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research. Previous winners include John A. Farrell’s Richard Nixon: The Life (2018) and Joe Jackson’s Black Elk: The Life of An American Visionary (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Awards ($5,000)

For a nonfiction book of the strongest literary character about sports with a biographical, investigative, historical, or analytical nature. Previous winners include Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life (2018) and Joe Nocera’s & Ben Strauss’s Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

For a lifetime of writing about sports and its dimensions of character and action with keen knowledge and insight, and especially with a literary voice evidenced in a style of agility and flair. The winner’s work may be in short- or long-form prose. Previous winners include Dave Kindred (2018) and Bill Nack (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Nominations


TRANSLATION (back to top ↑)

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2018. Previous winners include Len Rix’s translation of Katalin Street by Magda Szabo (2018) and Tess Lewis’s translation of Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap (2017). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form

PEN Poetry in Translation Prize ($3,000)

For a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English published in 2018. Previous winners include Simon Armitage’s Pearl: A New Verse Translation (2017) and Sawako Nakayasu’s The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (2016). Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Submission Form



PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award

For a mid-career playwright of great promise. Previous winners include Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Luis Alfaro, Young Jean Lee, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Sibyl Kempson. Learn more >>

>> Eligibility and Nomination Form


OFF-YEAR AWARDS (back to top ↑)

PEN/Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($20,000)

Recognizing a living American author whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature. Previous winners include Edmund White and Toni Morrison. Learn more >>

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

Recognizing a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. The poet honored by the award is one for whom the exceptional promise seen in earlier work has been fulfilled, and who continues to mature with each successive volume of poetry. Previous winners include Kamau Brathwaite and Ed Roberson. Learn more >>

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

For the translation of Paraguayan literature from Spanish or Guarani into English. It is open to both established and emerging Paraguayan writers. The award carries a cash stipend of $3,000 for the living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature. Another $3,000 is given to the winning translator in order to bring the work to the English-speaking world. Previous winners include Javier Viveros and Nathalia María Echauri Castagnino. Learn more >>