PEN/Bare Life Review Grants

The PEN/Bare Life Review Grants support literary works in progress by immigrant and refugee writers, recognizing that the literature of migration is of inherent and manifest value. Beginning with the 2024 grant conferral, PEN America will confer two PEN/Bare Life Review Grants of $5,000 each.

The grants are made possible by a substantial contribution from The Bare Life Review, which celebrates world literature and has been a champion for migrant and diasporic arts.

Applications for the 2025 cycle are now open through August 1. Submit here. 

2024 Winners

Chibuike Ogbonnaya, The Miraculous Wonders of Love 

A collection of variety and breadth, The Miraculous Wonders of Love explores the experiences of transgender characters in religious spaces, focusing on Christianity and Igbo Traditional religion. In these stories, Ogbonnaya resists reductive narratives about Nigerian LGBTQ experiences, and centers trans and gender non-conforming people making space for themselves in unlikely places. Innovative, tender, and heartbreaking, this collection expands what it means to be an LGBTQ immigrant, and pushes us away from the binaries of gender, tradition, and faith. Ogbonnaya’s stories and prose are a necessary addition to the rich tradition of Nigerian letters—a testament that LGBTQ stories and spirituality can go hand in hand. 

Doua Thao, An Americans

The lyrical and rugged collide in Doua Thao’s An Americans, a novel that explores the voices of a Hmong refugee community in the Midwest. As characters navigate their place in the new American world to forge themselves anew post the Laotian Secret War, the novel explores the fractures and the limits of community living. The old ways haunt the new in growing tensions between the old and young, between those that take on the new religion and those who cling to the customs of the past while struggling to eke a living amongst existing communities with their own tribal values. Following the perspectives of different community members, the novel forces us to ask: when we move to a new place, across short and long distances, what parts of us do we keep, and what parts of us do we forfeit? Thao’s prose is an instant classic.


  • The submitted project must be the work of a single individual, written in or translated into English. In the case of translated works, the grant will be conferred to the original author.
  • The project must be an unpublished work-in-progress that will not be published prior to April 1, 2026, as the grants are intended to support the completion of a manuscript.
  • The project must be a work of a literary nature: fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry.
  • This grant is available to foreign-born writers based in the U.S., and to writers living abroad who hold refugee/asylum seeker status.
  • Writers may only submit one project per year.

NOT eligible: Scholarly or academic writing.

How to Submit

Please note that the application will require the following, submitted as one PDF file, in the below order.

All documents should be in 12pt, Times New Roman, with 1 inch margins. Each document should be single spaced with the exception of the writing sample which should be double spaced.

  • A 1-2 page description of the work, answering: Why is this project important, and why did this author choose to undertake this project?
  • A 1-2 page statement answering: How will this grant aid in the completion of the project? (This space can additionally be used to discuss any permissions, rights, contracts, publication timelines, or other aspects of your project.)
  • A CV for the author of the project, which should include information on previous or forthcoming publications.
  • An outline that includes the work completed thus far and the work remaining.
  • A writing sample of up to 40 pages for poetry, and 75 pages for other genres. This, exceptionally, should be double spaced for legibility.

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