2016 PEN Open Book Award

Winner

Rick Barot for Chord (Sarabande Books) Read an excerpt » 

The PEN Open Book Award, formerly the Beyond Margins Awards, invites submissions of book-length writings by authors of color, published in the United States during the current calendar year. The Open Book Award was created by PEN American Center’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color. U.S. residency or citizenship is not required. Works of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, poetry, and other works of literary character are strongly preferred.

From the Judges' Citation

As its title suggests, Rick Barot’s Chord is at its heart about finding resonances: Barot layers the quotidian and the extraordinary to explore meaning in their unexpected overlaps. A canvas, painted black, prompts a discussion of art, an ars poetica, and a personal story about an uncle facing death; a refrigerator handle and a static spark become a meditation on the persistence of memory. In Chord, everything is in concert with something else: elegant, generous, and intelligent, these poems reverberate with one another across the pages to ask a larger question. “You don’t have to understand it / but you will carry it anyway,” one poem begins, and the collection probes that space between emotion and comprehension, interrogating the limits of language to express complications and connections. The result is a collection of startling beauty and impact that deepens with each re-reading."

Shortlist

Chord
Rick Barot
Sarabande Books
Read an excerpt »
 

Bastards of the Reagan Era
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Four Way Books
Read an excerpt »
 

Forest Primeval: Poems
Vievee Francis
Triquarterly Books/Northwestern
Read an excerpt »
 

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey
Marie Mutsuki Mockett
W. W. Norton & Company
Read an excerpt »


Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Savoy
Counterpoint
Read an excerpt »

 

Longlist

Chord
Rick Barot
Sarabande Books
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Bastards of the Reagan Era
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Four Way Books
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Forest Primeval: Poems
Vievee Francis
Triquarterly Books/Northwestern
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time: Poems
Angela Jackson
Triquarterly Books/Northwestern
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

God Loves Haiti: A Novel
Dimitry Elias Léger
Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey
Marie Mutsuki Mockett
W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Pink Box: Poems
Yesenia Montilla
Aquarius Press/Willow Books
Amazon
 

The Blind Writer: Stories and a Novella
Sameer Pandya
University Of Hawai'i Press
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Heaven: Poems
Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Savoy
Counterpoint
Amazon | Indie Bound

 

2016 Judges

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. She is the author of four books, including her most recent collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow, published by Four Way Books in 2015. The recipient of fellowships including Yaddo, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Vermont Studio Center, and Cave Canem Foundation, Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is working on her first novel and lives in Brooklyn.

 

Celeste Ng is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Everything I Never Told You. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, One Story, Gulf Coast, The Millions, and elsewhere, and has been awarded the Pushcart Prize. She earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To learn more about her, visit celesteng.com or follow her on Twitter (@pronounced_ing).


 

Héctor Tobar is a Los Angeles born author of four books, including Deep Down Dark and the novel The Barbarian Nurseries, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and translated into several languages. Tobar has an MFA in creative writing from the University of California Irvine. At the Los Angeles Times he worked as a city reporter, columnist, and foreign correspondent; he won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots. He is currently a professor at the University of Oregon.

 

Past Winners

Meena Alexander, Luis Francia, Joy Harjo, Victor LaValle, Nelly Rosario, Laila Halaby, Suki Kim, Nasdijj, Willie Perdomo, April Reynolds, Faith Adiele, Raquel Cepeda, Lan Samantha Chang, Lolita Hernandez, Ishle Yi Park, Richard Blanco, Andrew Lam, Ed-Bok Lee, Caryl Phillips, Jennifer Tseng, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ernest Hardy, Harryette Mullen, Alberto Ríos, Chris Abani, Amiri Baraka, Frances Hwang, Naeem Murr, Joseph M. Marshall III, Uwem Akpan, Juan Felipe Herrera, Lily Hoang, Sherwin Bitsui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Canyon Sam, Manu Joseph, Siddhartha Deb, Gina Apostol, Kevin Young, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Nina McConigley, and Claudia Rankine.

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

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