The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut book, a collection of short stories, represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for a second work of literary fiction. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize intended to allow significant time and resources with which to pursue subsequent work.
The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize was established in memory of Robert W. Bingham, who died in 1999 at the age of 33, to commemorate his support of young writers, his love of literature, and his contribution to 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]. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions for the 2021 cycle will be open June 15–August 15, 2020. Submit here.
Honoring books published in 2019.
JUDGES: Aimee Bender, Jamel Brinkley, Samantha Hunt, Randa Jarrar, Elissa Schappell
Featured Winner: Mimi Lok
From the judges’ citation: “The stories in Mimi Lok’s Last of Her Name are more than just deeply felt, richly imagined, and darkly comic; they feel necessary. In these pages, we find fractals. The microscopic contains the macro. The collection ranges all over our globe while distilling breathtaking, tiny moments of tremendous significance. Whether we are with estranged siblings over a meal to try to talk, or moving back and forth in time to unearth one family’s personal history, or in the closet with an elderly homeless woman listening in on a younger man’s affluent life, we are moving constantly between different strata—place, age, class, view of the world. But with this range and movement comes astonishing intimacy and emotional acuity, a determination in each instance to locate that which is most true and most human.”
(This award was formerly named the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers.)
2012 Vanessa Veselka, Zazen (Red Lemonade)
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press)
2011 Susanna Daniel, Stiltsville (Harper)
Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate your Own Fool Self (Riverhead Trade)
Runner-Up: Teddy Wayne, Kapitoil (Harper Perennial)
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)
2009 Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff (Doubleday)
Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (Free Press)
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)
2007 Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (Knopf)
Tony D’Souza, Whiteman (Harcourt)
Katherine Min, Secondhand World (Knopf)
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)
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)
2002 Manil Suri, The Death of Vishnu (W.W. Norton)
Carolyn Cooke, The Bostons (Mariner)
Matthew Klam, Sam the Cat and other stories (Vintage)
- PLEASE NOTE: This prize will honor a debut writer’s short story collection, which is also the writer’s first published book.
- 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, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
- Publishers may submit galleys or 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 their work as long as it is a collection of individual short stories.
- If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Award, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner Award is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.
- Self-published books are not eligible.
Submissions for the 2021 awards will be accepted from June 15, 2020 through August 15, 2020.
- PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
- On the submissions page, please select the award you are submitting to.
- Please submit verified email addresses on the submission form. Your order cannot be processed without an email address, and this information will be used to later contact you regarding your submission.
- Upload a PDF file of the galley or final manuscript on the book submissions page. Due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, 2021 book award submissions will only be read digitally as PDF files. Each book file will be kept confidentially between the PEN America Literary Awards team and the applicable Awards judges. Please note that if a book is longlisted, PEN America may request a physical copy be sent to the judging panel.
- Upload a high-resolution book jacket photo. This may be used later if the book is longlisted, a finalist, or a winner.
- Please download the declaration of eligibility. Complete all fields and have the editor or publisher sign to confirm the book’s eligibility. Please upload this document along with the rest of your application on the submissions page.
- Each submission is $85*. Please note that due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are asking that all submissions payments be made via credit card. Submission fees are not refundable.
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, it will be passed along to the judges. Please add [email protected] to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.
*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’s 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 checkout in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2021 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.