PEN America Literary Award PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers

The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers recognizes 12 emerging writers each year for their debut short story published in a literary magazine, journal, or cultural website, and aims to support the launch of their careers as fiction writers.

Each of the 12 winning writers receives a cash prize of $2,000, and the independent book publisher Catapult will publish the 12 winning stories in an annual anthology entitled Best Debut Short Stories: The PEN America Dau Prize, which will acknowledge the literary magazines and websites where the stories were originally published.

2020 Winners

Judges: Tracy O’Neill, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Deb Olin Unferth

“Bat Outta Hell” (Foglifter Journal), Damitri Martinez
“Cats vs. Cancer” (New England Review), Valerie Hegarty
“Dog Dreams” (Quarterly West), Sena Moon
“Don’t Go to Strangers” (Zyzzyva), Matthew Jeffrey Vegari
“Evangelina Concepcion” (Epiphany), Ani Sison Cooney
“Failure to Thrive” (The Paris Review), Willa Richards
“Gauri Kalyanam” (The Rumpus), Kristen Sahaana Surya
“Madam’s Sister” (Granta), Mbozi Haimbe
“Summertime” (Michigan Quarterly Review), Mohit Manohar
“The Good, Good Men” (Puerto del Sol, Black Voices Series), Shannon Sanders
“The Other Child” (The Threepenny Review), David Kelly Lawrence
“The Water Tower and the Turtle” (Granta), Kikuko Tsumura, translated by Polly Barton

Pre-Order from Catapult

Previous Anthologies

History

Previous Winners

2019
“The Rickies” (Nimrod Journal), Sarah Curry
“Mother and Child” (The Sun), Laura Freudig
“The Manga Artist” (The Iowa Review), Doug Henderson
“Good Hope” (Auburn Avenue), Enyeribe Ibegwan
“Cicadas and the Dead Chairman” (Epiphany), Pingmei Lan
“Without a Big One” (Kweli Journal), John Paul Infante
“Last Days, Part 1” (Black Warrior Review), Tamiko Beyer
“Tornado Season” (Alaska Quarterly Review), Marilyn Manolakas
“Bad Northern Women” (Conjunctions), Erin Singer
“The Unsent Letters of Blaise and Jacqueline Pascal” (Conjunctions), Kelsey Peterson
“Today, You’re a Black Revolutionary” (The Rumpus), Jade Jones
“Vain Beasts” (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet), A. B. Young

2018
“1983” (The Baltimore Review), Elinam Agbo
“Appetite” (SLICE), Lin King
“Bellevonia Beautee” (The Rumpus), Lauren Friedlander
“Black Dog” (Black Warrior Review), Alex Terrell
“Brent, Bandit King” (The Brooklyn Review), Grayson Morley
“Candidates” (Washington Square Review)Megan Tucker
“New Years in La Calera” (EPOCH), Cristina Fries
“Six Months New” (New England Review), Celeste Mohammed
“Stay Brave, My Hercules” (McSweeney’s), Ernie Wang
“The Crazies” (One Story), Maud Streep
“Videoteca Fin del Mundo” (Black Warrior Review), Ava Tomasula y Garcia
“Zombie Horror” (The Baltimore Review), Drew McCutchen

2017
“Galina” (Fifth Wednesday Journal),  Angela Ajayi 
“The Handler” (Southwest Review),  Amber Caron 
“Tell Me, Please” (The Common), Emily Chammah 
“The Asphodel Meadow” (The Summerset Review), Jim Cole 
“Solee” (The Southern Review), Crystal Hana Kim 
“The Manual Alphabet” (Fence), Samuel Clare Knights 
“Goldhawk” (The Malahat Review), Katherine Magyarody 
“A Modern Marriage” (Boston Review), Grace Oluseyi 
“1,000-Year-Old Ghosts” (Hyphen Magazine), Laura Chow Reeve 
“State Facts for the New Age” (The Rumpus), Amy Sauber 
“A Message” (Epiphany: A Literary Journal), Ruth Serven 
“Edwin Chase of Nantucket” (Harvard Review), Ben Shattuck  

Eligibility and Submission Guidelines

Submissions for the 2021 awards will be accepted from June 15, 2020 through November 15, 2020.

SUBMIT HERE

  • Stories must be submitted by editors of literary magazines, journals, or cultural websites and published in the English language. Publications may be based and/or distributed anywhere in the world, so long as the story submitted was originally written in and published in English. Authors may not submit their own work.
  • Participating publications include literary magazines, journals, or cultural websites published on a recurring schedule.
  • Stories must have been published or forthcoming in the applicable calendar year.
  • Editors from eligible publications may only submit a writer’s debut short story. “Debut” is defined as the writer’s absolute first fiction publication in any language, which has undergone an editorial review process and been accepted and published in a literary outlet that the author is not academically or professionally associated with. Translations are ineligible. Writers who have published one or more books which have undergone editorial review are ineligible.
  • Editors from eligible publications may submit up to four eligible stories from debut authors in a given award year. Stories may not exceed 12,000 words in length.
  • Both the editor and debut author must agree to and sign the award’s declaration of eligibility and consent, which outlines serial rights for Catapult’s forthcoming anthology, and upload all application materials and submit online via Submittable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are writers still eligible if they have published poetry and/or nonfiction before?

Yes, so long as the story submitted is the writer’s first fiction publication. Writers who have published one or more books of poetry, nonfiction, or other writing which has undergone editorial review are ineligible for the prize.

The story I plan to submit does not fit the exact formatting specifications (Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, double-spaced). Do I need to reformat?

We understand that many literary journals publish stories according to their formatting conventions and that therefore, the style of the PDFs does not conform to the formatting specifications. If the copy is legible online and in hard copy, you do not need to reformat.

An author has previously published work on a blog or as a part of a school project. Are they still eligible?

An author becomes ineligible if the previous work underwent an editorial review process with a publication the author was not affiliated with academically or professionally. Blog posts that have not been reviewed by an editor do not render the writer ineligible.

The author I wish to nominate has a piece that was accepted to our magazine this year, but the story will be published next year. Can I still submit their work for the current awards cycle?

Submitted stories must be published in the calendar year prior to the corresponding Awards Ceremony. For example, for the 2020 awards cycle, stories must have been published in 2019 to be considered eligible. If the story is published in 2020, you may submit it for the 2021 awards cycle.

Can I submit PDFs from our forthcoming fall or winter issue?

Yes. You may submit PDFs for forthcoming stories as long as they are published by the end of the required calendar year.

If an author has only published one short story during their career but has self-published writing online or as a book, does that in any way interfere with the author’s eligibility for this prize?

This prize is for a writer’s first fiction publication that has gone through an editorial review process. If the self-published writing has generated significant sales or readership, please email awards@pen.org with the number of copies sold, years self-published, and other relevant information to confirm eligibility.

We’re publishing a debut short story as an e-book or anthology. Do you accept galleys?

An author would be ineligible if they are being published in a book with a press. Stories published in anthologies are ineligible.

Are the writers signing a contract with Catapult for First North American Serial Rights? Does this contract include digital rights?

Writers would sign with Catapult for nonexclusive, second serial rights for print and digital. All other rights will be retained by the author. It’ll be as author-friendly as it can get.

I’ve received an award/grant/scholarship for my writing, but have never been published. Am I still eligible?

Yes, so long as this is your first piece of fiction writing published that has also undergone editorial review.

What if my short story was first published in an anthology—does that count?

No, stories whose first publication is in an anthology are ineligible. Participating publications include literary magazines, journals, or cultural websites published on a recurring schedule.

The story I want to submit is written by a writer who has published a few stories in a language other than English, but this is their first publication in English. Is this story eligible?

No, the debut story has to be the writer’s first short story or piece of fiction ever published in any language that has undergone an editorial review process.

Previously, only U.S.-based publications were eligible. My journal is based in Australia. Are we eligible to submit our debut stories?

Yes, so long as the stories were originally published in English and meet all the eligibility requirements.