PEN America Literary Awards PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut 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.

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN’s award seal, please write to [email protected].

Current Cycle: 2019

Honoring books published in 2018.

Submissions: June-August 2018
Judges Announced: December 2018
Longlists Announced: December 2018
Shortlists Announced: January 2019
Awards Ceremony: February 2019


2019 Finalists

2019 finalists for the PEN/Bingham award

Featured Honoree: Jenny Zhang, 2018 Winner

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny)
Lenny Ι Indiebound Ι Amazon

Judges: Claire Vaye Watkins, Justin Torres, Mia Alvar, Rion Amilcar Scott

From the judges’ citation:“With humor and stunning honesty, Sour Heart tests and topples such categories as “immigrant fiction” or “coming-of-age story”—making its own vital, original, and wholly irresistible footprint on American letters. The book is rangy in tone and texture, a high stylist moving from the scatological to the sublime and back again. Zhang is uncommonly, beautifully frank about that which embitters and that which enlivens. Sour Heart enlarges the reader’s understanding of the world with a voice so run through with lively contradiction it is as tender as it is rough, as mature as it is youthful, both urgent and cool.” 



Previous Winners

(This award was formerly names the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers.)

2002  Manil Suri, The Death of Vishnu (W.W. Norton)
         Carolyn Cooke, The Bostons (Mariner)
         Matthew Klam, Sam the Cat and other stories (Vintage)

2004  Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
         Will Heinrich, The King’s Evil (Scribner)
         Monique Truong, The Book of Salt (Mariner Books)

2006  Christopher Coake, We’re In Trouble (Harcourt)

Tom Bissell, God Lives in St. Petersburg: And Other Stories (Pantheon)
Richard McCann, Mother of Sorrows (Vintage)

2007  Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (Knopf)

Runners up:
Tony D’Souza, Whiteman (Harcourt)
Katherine Min, Secondhand World (Knopf)

2008  Dalia Sofer, The Septembers of Shiraz (Ecco)

Joshua Ferris, Then We Come to an End (Little, Brown & Co.)
Alex Mindt, The Male of the Species (Delphinium)

2009  Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff (Doubleday)

Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (Free Press)

2010  Paul Harding, Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press)

Terrence Holt, In the Valley of the Kings (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, Daughters of the Stone (Thomas Dunne Books)

2011  Susanna Daniel, Stiltsville (Harper)
         Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate your Own Fool Self (Riverhead Trade)

Runner-Up: Teddy Wayne, Kapitoil (Harper Perennial)

2012  Vanessa Veselka, Zazen (Red Lemonade)

Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press)

2013  Sergio De La Pava, A Naked Singularity (University of Chicago Press)

2014  Shawn Vestal, Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest)

2015  Jack Livings, The Dog (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

2016  Mia Alvar, In The Country: Stories (Alfred A. Knopf)

2017  Rion Amilcar Scott, Insurrections, (University of Kentucky Press)

2018  Jenny Zhang, Sour Heart, (Lenny)




Submissions for the next awards cycle will be accepted from June 1, 2019 – August 1, 2019.

Who is Eligible


  • PLEASE NOTE: This prize will honor short story collections in 2018-19 and going forward.
  • The candidate’s first (and only the first) collection of short fiction must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Publishers may submit galleys or bound manuscripts for consideration if the book is not yet published.
  • Candidates must be U.S. residents; American citizenship is not required.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work as long as it is fiction.

NOT Eligible:

  • Self-published books are not eligible.
How to Submit
  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. One need not be a Member of PEN to submit. Authors may not submit their own book for this award. 
  • Please download the Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please upload this document along with the rest of your application. 
  • Each submission is $85*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.  
  • Once you have completed the online submission form, mail one copy of the candidate’s book to the address below between June 1 and August 15, 2018. Please note that we also accept galleys and bound manuscripts.

    PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
    PEN America
    588 Broadway, Suite 303
    New York, NY 10012

  • Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] before the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’ annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2019 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.