This biennial prize of $10,000, offered in odd-numbered years, will go to the author of a distinguished book of nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues. The book should possess the qualities of intellectual rigor and importance, perspicuity of expression, and stylistic elegance conspicuous in the writings of author and economist John Kenneth Galbraith, whose four dozen books and countless other publications continue to provide an important and incisive commentary on the American social, intellectual, and political scene.
Eligible books will have been published in the last two calendar years. For the 2021 cycle, books will have been published in 2019 and 2020. The author need not be a U.S. citizen or resident to be eligible.
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@example.com. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions for the 2021 cycle will be open June 15–August 15, 2020. Submit here.
Featured Honoree: Bernice Yeung, 2019 Winner
JUDGES: Nana-Ama Danquah, McKenzie Funk, Syreeta McFadden, Christina Sharpe, Linda Villarosa
From the judges’ citation: “Harrowing and deeply reported, In a Day’s Work forces readers to see the vulnerable women who too often go unseen, low-paid immigrants who pick produce, clean offices, and care for children and the elderly—and face devastating sexual violence and intimidation in the workplace. With great humanity and care for detail, Bernice Yeung makes clear the frequency and regularity of the abuse and the necessity of the efforts to unionize and support such workers. The book attends to the ways that women of color (from Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean) organize themselves and each other in the face of violence, intimidation, isolation, uncertain immigration status, shame, vulnerability, unfamiliarity with laws, and sexism in labor organizing. ‘There’s no way to defend yourself. […] ‘That’s why you deal with everything, all of the harassment. […] You deal with it because you need the job,’ says Georgina Hernández, one of In a Day’s Work’s many quiet heroes. Yeung has given us a book that is utterly necessary: sobering in the details and scope but hopeful in all of the ways that immigrant women come together to organize and collectively enact refusal.”
(This award is offered every other year, in odd-numbered years.)
2019 Bernice Yeung, In a Day’s Work (The New Press)
Who is Eligible:
- A candidate’s book of nonfiction must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher in the two years prior to the Awards cycle year (for the 2021 cycle, this includes 2019 and 2020).
- Candidates need not be U.S. citizens or residents.
- Memoir is eligible, so long as it possesses qualities of intellectual rigor and importance and a critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues.
- 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.
- Biographies are not accepted.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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@example.com. 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.