2015 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize


Jack Livings for The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The winner is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs.

Read the PEN Ten Interview with Jack Livings here

From the Judges' Citation

The stories in Jack Livings' collection The Dog take place in contemporary China, but they are the opposite of exotic. Livings’ precise, measured sentences draw on an intensity of knowledge which makes a glass factory in Beijing as familiar as any American office, a feat which speaks of long experience and careful research, but also, and more importantly, of a deep curiosity about the vagaries and vanities of human nature, the brutish demands of collective endeavor and the austerity of freedom, and the strange occasions for compassion in societies where corruption and betrayal are the norm. The Dog reminds the reader that fiction need not be autobiographical in order to be honest; it is an investigation, an act of empathy and imagination which brings the world to life."


The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol
Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond
Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay
The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings
Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce


The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol
Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond
Black Moon (Hogarth), Kenneth Calhoun
Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay
Ride Around Shining (Harper), Chris Leslie-Hynan
The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings
The Wives of Los Alamos (Bloomsbury), TaraShea Nesbit
The Heaven of Animals (Simon & Schuster), David James Poissant
Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce
Time of the Locust (Atria Books), Morowa Yejidé

2015 Judges

 Caroline Fraser was born in Seattle and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in English and American literature. Formerly on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, she is the author of two nonfiction books, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside Magazine, and The London Review of Books, among other publications. She received a PEN Award for Best Young Writer and was a recipient of the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, awarded by PEN Northwest.

Katie Kitamura is a critic and novelist based in New York City. She is the author of The Longshot (2009) and Gone to the Forest (2012), both of which were finalists for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Kitamura has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Wired and is a regular contributor to Frieze.



Paul La Farge is the author of the novels The Artist of the Missing (1999), Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), and Luminous Airplanes (2011), as well as The Facts of Winter (2005), a book of imaginary dreams. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's, Conjunctions, Fence, and elsewhere. He was a 2013-14 fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, at the New York Public Library, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Victor LaValle is the author of Slapboxing with Jesus, a book of stories, and three novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and The Devil in Silver. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Shirley Jackson Award and the key to Southeast Queens. His writing has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and Bookforum, among others. He was raised in Queens, New York. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife and children. He teaches at Columbia University.

Past winners 

Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Will Heinrich, Monique Truong, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin, Dalia Sofer, Donald Ray Pollock, Paul Harding, Danielle Evans, Susanna Daniel, Vanessa Veselka, Sergio De La Pava, and Shawn Vestal.

Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.

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