2016 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Winner

Lauren Redniss for Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future (Random House) Read an excerpt »

The PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award celebrates writing that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of physical and biological sciences. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards.

From the Judges' Citation

Using an eclectic combination of narrative, dialogue, scientific explication and reportage, Thunder & Lightning unearths the powerful and unexpected ways in which our lives are shaped by rain, wind, cold, fog and heat, and the range of methods by which we’ve attempted to predict and control their vagaries. Cemeteries are washed away by storms. Engineers attempt to manufacture winds in Mecca. The passing of North Korean dictators is said to extract snow from cloudless skies. “For millennia,” author Lauren Redniss writes, “people have found meaning, and divinity, in weather.” With whimsical illustrations accompanying its evocative, lyrical writing, Thunder & Lightning underlines the profound, multifaceted impact climate change will have on our species. This is a haunting, utterly original work on an urgent topic."

Shortlist

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett
The Crown Publishing 
Read an excerpt »
 

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World
Joel K. Bourne Jr.
W. W. Norton & Company
Read an excerpt »
 

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star
Tom Clynes
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Read an excerpt »
 

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future
Lauren Redniss
Random House
Read an excerpt »

Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World
Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe
Pegasus Books

Read an excerpt »

Longlist

The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations Into the Strange New Science of the Self
Anil Ananthaswamy
Dutton Books/Penguin Random House
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett
The Crown Publishing 
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled On by Hawking Became Loved
Marcia Bartusiak
Yale University Press
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World
Joel K. Bourne Jr.
W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star
Tom Clynes
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
Frances E. Jensen, M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt
Harper Books
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry
Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD with Ogi Ogas
Little Brown and Company
Amazon | Indie Bound
 

Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time—and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything
George Musser
Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Amazon | Indie Bound

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future
Lauren Redniss
Random House
Amazon | Indie Bound

Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World
Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe
Pegasus Books
Amazon | Indie Bound

 

2016 Judges

Joshua Foer is the author of the international bestseller Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which was a finalist for the 2012 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. A 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, Foer’s writing has been published in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Outside, and Esquire. He is also the co-founder of Atlas Obscura.


 

Virginia Hughes is the science editor of BuzzFeed News. Before joining BuzzFeed, Ginny was an independent journalist specializing in genetics, neuroscience, and biotechnology. She was a contributing editor at Popular Science, and her blog, Only Human, was published by National Geographic. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Slate, and twice in The Best American Science and Nature Writing anthologies. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and energetic herding dog.

 

Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and Scientific American and has been featured on RadioLab, Fresh Air, and TED, where her talk, “Three Reasons We Still Haven’t Gotten Rid of Malaria” has been viewed by over 1,000,000 people. Her 2010 book, The Fever, was long-listed for the Royal Society’s Winton Prize. Her new book, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, is forthcoming in February 2016.

Past Winners

Siddhartha Mukherjee, James Gleick, Leonard Mlodinow, Dr. Carl Hart, and Joshua Horwitz.

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

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