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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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.
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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
DRAMA & PERFORMANCE WRITING
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>