2016 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

Winner

Ta-Nehisi Coates for Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Random House) Read an excerpt » 

The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay aims to preserve the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards.

From the Judges' Citation 

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is a difficult book because it seems so straightforward. It carries its radicalism—a claim against the world as it is—with amazing grace, and in doing so it presents the reader with a moral, intellectual and racial provocation. You cannot construe what Ta-Nehisi Coates is saying without having to re-construe yourself. We think of the essay as a kind of elliptical loop, the mind wandering out into the world in order to witness itself. But in Coates’s book, the essay becomes something else again. It becomes an inducement, an incitement, a persuasion to a view of the world that feels as gratifying in its prose as it is profoundly unsettling.”

Shortlist

After the Tall Timber: Collected Non-Fiction 
Renata Adler
New York Review Books
Read an excerpt »
 

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Read an excerpt »
 

The Quarry
Susan Howe
New Directions
Read an excerpt »
 

The Givenness of Things: Essays
Marilynne Robinson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Read an excerpt »
 

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
David L. Ulin
University of California Press
Read an excerpt »

 

Longlist

After the Tall Timber: Collected Non-Fiction 
Renata Adler
New York Review Books
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

This Old Man: All in Pieces
Roger Angell
Doubleday
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Our Only World: Ten Essays
Wendell Berry
Counterpoint
Amazon | Indie Bound

 

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Quarry
Susan Howe
New Directions
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader
Linda Nochlin
Thames & Hudson
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Givenness of Things: Essays
Marilynne Robinson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Reporting Always: Writings from The New Yorker
Lillian Ross
Scribner/Simon & Schuster
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Life of Images: Selected Prose
Charles Simic
Ecco/HarperCollins
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
David L. Ulin
University of California Press
Amazon | Indie Bound

 

2016 Judges

Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of six books: Making Hay (1986), The Last Fine Time (1991), The Rural Life (2003), Timothy: Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile (2006), Several Short Sentences About Writing (2011), and More Scenes From the Rural Life (2013). He is currently a member of the English Department and the School of Forestry at Yale University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 and was a member of the editorial board of the New York Times from 1997 to 2013. He lives in Manhattan and Columbia County, NY, with his wife, Alexandra Enders.

Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the memoir The Long Goodbye (Riverhead, 2011), as well as the poetry collections Once (2011) and Halflife (2007). She was awarded a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship and the Radcliffe Fellowship, among other prizes. She teaches at Princeton and New York University.

 

 

Luc Sante's books include Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, Kill All Your Darlings, Folk Photography, and The Other Paris (to be published in October). He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy (for album notes), an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, and Guggenheim and Cullman Fellowships. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College.

Past Winners

Bernard Knox, Martha Nussbaum, David B. Morris, Frederick Crews, Stanley Fish, John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Thomas Nagel, Cynthia Ozick, Adam Hochschild, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard, David Quammen, David Bromwich, William H. Gass, Stewart Justman, Mark Slouka, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Hass, James Wolcott, and Ian Buruma.

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

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